Directives and Conventions
The nature conservation directives and the Water Framework Directive of the European Union as well as important international conventions concerning the preservation of wetlands are outlined below.
Nature Conservation Directives of the European Union
Since Austria’s accession on 1 January 1995 the Birds Directive (Council Directive 79/409/EEC) and the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC) of the European Union have to be implemented in Austria also.
The objective of the Birds Directive is to preserve, maintain or re-establish a sufficient diversity and area of habitats for wild birds.
The Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive extends this objective to cover wild animal and plant species as well as natural habitats in general.
The species and habitats listed in the two EU Nature Conservation Directives are safeguarded for the long term through the designation of protected areas in the EU-wide network of protected areas, Natura 2000. Almost all of Austria’s Ramsar Sites are also designated Natura 2000 areas.
Water Framework Directive of the EU
The European Water Policy has been fundamentally reformed by the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC; WFD). The Directive entered into force in 2000 and aims at the systematic improvement and no further deterioration of the quality, and thus at achieving the “good status” in 2015 for all European waters.
Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention)
The objectives of this Convention are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation. In nature conservation, therefore, not only species but the entire documented nature in all its diversity has to be protected.
States that signed the Convention are obligated to prepare a national strategy for all areas to safeguard biodiversity. They have to preserve biological diversity both “in situ” (on the spot) and “ex situ” (zoos, gene banks and sperm banks). Research and training, supervision (monitoring) and awareness raising are to be intensified.
A clearing-house mechanism was worked out to promote international technological and scientific cooperation. This should enable access to and exchange of information about biodiversity worldwide.
With its accession in 1995 Austria committed itself to implement the contents of the Biodiversity Convention (Federal Law Gazette No 213/1995). The “Biodiversity Strategy Austria 2020+” is available (BMNT 2014).
World Cultural and Natural Heritage
The Convention was prepared in 1972 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Its objective is to record and preserve the cultural and natural heritage for future generations. Many countries are interested in having monuments, ruins of historical value or special landscapes declared as world heritage.
Austria acceded to the Convention in 1993 (Federal Law Gazette No 60/1993). Parts of the World Heritage Site are, among others, the cultivated landscape of Lake Neusiedl in Austria/Hungary and the pile dwellings in Lake Keutschach. Both sites are also designated Ramsar sites.
International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora signed in Washington
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention, signed in Washington) aims to preserve the stock of wild species endangered by commercial interests.
For this purpose, CITES provides for a comprehensive control system for the international trade in endangered species of fauna and flora and in the products manufactured from them.
The “Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats” (Bern Convention) was created in 1979.
The Convention aims to provide minimum protection for most wild species of fauna and flora and their natural habitats, and to provide full protection for a certain number of particularly seriously endangered and vulnerable plant and animal species, above all vulnerable migratory species.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also referred to as Bonn Convention, is based on a recommendation of the Conference of the United Nations in 1972.
At that time the extent of threat for animal species that travel over far distances and overcome political borders was discussed. Participants recognised the necessity of cooperation especially in the protection of migratory species.
The Convention serves to establish coordinated measures to preserve migratory species, for example regulation of hunting along migratory routes. Meanwhile about 50 countries, and also the European Union, have signed the Bonn Convention.