The Convention on
Biological Diversity 1992 (UNCED 1992) was a significant outcome of the UNEP
Earth Summit held in Rio Janeiro in 1992. At least 175 countries are signatories
to the Convention. Article 14 of the Convention requires an EIA for policies and
projects that are likely to have significant adverse effects on biological
Convention on Wetlands (1971) came into force in 1975 and is concerned with
wetlands, particularly those of importance for waterfowl. Contracting Parties
are required to designate sites - ‘Ramsar Sites’. In Europe, these cover
over 5 million ha.
includes a stringent condition with respect to development:
alternative sites of the original habitat type should the development of any of
the presently designated sites become necessary in the urgent national
The Convention on the conservation of
European wildlife and natural habitats, known as the Bern Convention (1979),
aims to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats, especially
those species and habitats whose conservation requires the co-operation of
several States, and to promote such co-operation. Particular emphasis is given
to endangered and vulnerable species, including endangered and vulnerable
migratory species. Signatories to the Convention must implement measures to
maintain populations of wild flora and fauna. (Council of Europe 1996) Such
listed habitats and species should be considered in the planning, design and
implementation of transport schemes.
Areas of Special Conservation Interest
are established through the Bern Convention 1979. The network of these areas is
known as the Emerald Network (Council of Europe 1989). The network makes special
reference to transport routes and the need to safeguard crossing routes for
designations protecting habitats or areas of landscape include sites nominated
under the World Heritage Convention, adopted by United Nations Education,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1972. The Convention includes
Natural and Cultural Sites as well as more recently combined works of ‘nature
and man’-Cultural Landscapes. Within Europe there are some 15 natural sites.
Mainly on account of the prestigious nature (rather than legal) of such a
designation the Convention has assisted in the prevention of damage of
designated sites (IUCN 1994 Parks for Life) and as such may have political
implications in the planning of transport infrastructure.
Reserves and other designations
A world network of
biosphere reserves has been designated under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere
Programme 1971. The reserves represent the world’s major biological diversity
regions. They are selected on a number of defined criteria and under Article 9
of the Statutory Framework each reserve is subject to a review on a ten-year
cycle. Following the Review, if the reserve does not satisfy the criteria it can
be excluded from the network, for example as a result of significant detrimental
changes from a transport route.
The European Diploma of Protected Areas
is an award given to protected areas on account of their outstanding landscape
or biological diversity and the efficiency of their protection system. This
prestigious award is reviewed every five years and can assist in the protection
of sites (Council of Europe 1965).
The Baltic Sea and
the Mediterranean Sea are associated with two separate conventions (Helsinki
Conventions Helsinki Convention (1974) and Barcelona Convention (1976/1995) and
Geneva/Barcelona Protocol (1982 & 1995)). These establish a system of
coastal and marine protected areas to conserve biological diversity.
At a national level
there is a range of legislation providing varying degrees of protection for
landscapes, habitats and individual species (ICUN 1992), and Council of Europe
2000). Such legislation may encompass a series of national parks and nature
reserves including those on a very local level of importance, and other
protected landscapes with an estimated 10,000-20,000 across Europe.
The IUCN World
Conservation Union has provided an international classification system for
protected areas defined as:
of land and /or sea especially dedicated to the protection of biological
diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through
legal or other effective means." (IUCN 1994)
These areas have
been classified into six management categories. Category II National Parks,
Category IV Habitat/Species Management Area, and Category V Protected Landscape
are those most used in Europe. In spite of such status, many legally protected
areas are under strong pressure from development proposals including transport
schemes but also from inadequate management (IUCN 1994 Parks for Life). Their
ultimate protection from adverse development is dependent on the robustness of
the legal system, including the application as appropriate of the Habitats, or
Birds Directives, the EIA process, for example the European Union can enforce
and habitats are not restricted to protected areas and there is a need to
consider the wider countryside. In this respect, the Pan-European Network was
established to form a network of linked areas to ensure the favourable
conservation status of traditional landscapes, habitats and species. It was set
up as part of the Pan-European Landscape and Biological Diversity Strategy and
aims to encourage the coherence and complementarity of the different networks in
an ambitious initiative which covers the entire pan-European geographical area
and which brings together diverse partners at the different decision levels. The
Network is made up of three tiers: core areas, corridors and buffer zones.
provide an opportunity to form sections of the corridor and/or buffer areas, in
particular by adapting the associated green estate to form specified habitats.
Such opportunities can apply to proposed and existing schemes and in both cases
landscape management is likely to be a critical issue. To some extent the
realising of such opportunities may partly offset other negative effects
directly, or indirectly arising from transport schemes.