Bern Convention

The Bern Convention is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, which covers most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extends to some states of Africa. Its aims are to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to promote European co-operation in that field. Under the Convention, a European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species (external link) has been published and provides a framework for action, including encouraging the development of national strategies. Implementation of the Strategy is overseen by the Convention’s Group of Experts on Invasive Alien Species (external link).

The Strategy promotes the development and implementation of coordinated measures and cooperative efforts throughout Europe to prevent or minimise adverse impacts of invasive alien species (IAS) on Europe’s biodiversity, as well as their consequences for the economy and human health and well-being. It does not apply to genetically modified organisms.

The Strategy provides guidance to help Bern Convention Parties in their efforts to:

• rapidly increase awareness and information on IAS issues and ways to tackle them;
• strengthen national and regional capacity and cooperation to deal with IAS issues;
• prevent the introduction of new invasive alien species into and within Europe and support rapid response to detected incursions;
• reduce the adverse impact of existing invasive alien species;
• recover species and restore natural habitats and ecosystems that have been adversely affected by biological invasions, where feasible and desirable; and
• identify and prioritise key actions to be implemented at the national and regional level.

The Strategy covers:

• terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of Bern Convention Parties. It also provides guidance for activities carried out in areas beyond national jurisdiction (e.g. shipping);
• alien species (as defined by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity: see Box 1) in all taxonomic groups, including viruses, prions, bacteria, mycorrhiza and feral animals of domestic species (cats, dogs, goats, etc.).

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