International nature protection

Nature does not respect national borders. A species or habitat type can be extremely common in one country, but under threat globally. Therefore, there are a number of international conventions and directives to protect nature in a wider context than just the national. Denmark also takes part in international collaboration on nature protection.

The Convention on Biological Diversity

This Convention protects biodiversity. A supplementary agreement has been established under the Cartagena Protocol, and this contains provisions on genetically modified organisms.

Denmark, like 196 other countries (as of 2023), and the European Union, has signed the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

The purpose of the convention is to conserve biological diversity, promote the sustainable use of natural resources, and ensure a fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources.

Together with two other environmental conventions, the Climate Convention and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Biodiversity Convention, for the first time, elevated nature and its diversity of species to the top of the global agenda. The precursor to this was the UN's report on sustainable development, the so-called Brundtland Report from 1987.

The convention is an overarching framework convention that provides binding guidelines for member countries.

Under the Biodiversity Convention, there are two protocols: the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

There are seven thematic work programs that cover major biological units such as forest biodiversity or agricultural biodiversity. In addition, there are 19 cross-cutting work programs that address topics such as protected areas or the sustainable use of biodiversity.

The Bern Convention

The Convention on the Protection of Europe's Wild Animals and Plants and Natural Habitats of September 19, 1979. In Denmark, the convention entered into force on January 1, 1983.

The purpose of the convention is to preserve wild plants and animals as well as their habitats, with a particular focus on endangered and sensitive species, as well as migratory species. The contracting states have committed to working towards these goals.

There are 45 European and African states that are parties to the convention, which has also been ratified by the European Union. In addition, there are a number of states with observer status.

The Standing Committee meets once a year with representatives from the contracting parties and parties with observer status. The Committee monitors the correct implementation of the provisions of the convention and its appendices, and recommendations can be adopted on how to improve the implementation of the convention. Furthermore, a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participate in the work of the convention based on a special partnership agreement. These organizations are often the first to respond in connection with protection or monitoring.

The Bonn Convention

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The Convention covers species which migrate across national borders.

The Bonn Convention was signed in 1979, entered into force in 1983, and is currently ratified by over 85 countries. Denmark ratified the convention in 1982.

The Bonn Convention establishes a framework for cooperation among member states to protect specific species in their respective ranges. The convention encourages the implementation of strict conservation measures for endangered species and the negotiation of cooperation agreements between states for a wider range of animal species to ensure their favorable conservation status.

Denmark is among the small handful of countries that have entered into the most regional and species-specific cooperation agreements, specifically four agreements. Denmark has entered into the following agreements:

  1. Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) - This agreement focuses on the protection of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds.

  2. Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) - This agreement is aimed at the protection of small cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas.

  3. Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS) - This agreement is focused on the protection of bat populations in Europe.

  4. Agreement on the Conservation of Seals in the Waddensea - This agreement is dedicated to the conservation of seals in the Wadden Sea.

These agreements reflect Denmark's commitment to the conservation of various species and their habitats, both regionally and internationally.

The Ramsar Convention

Also known as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, this has international significance for water fowl.

Ramsar sites are protected wetlands of special significance for birds. Denmark has designated 28 Ramsar sites with a total area of approximately 7,300 square kilometers. The total area is divided into approximately 6,000 square kilometers of marine areas and about 1,300 square kilometers of land, as Danish Ramsar sites often include salt meadows ("Strandeng") or other areas adjacent to wetlands.

Ramsar sites are wetlands with such a high number of waterfowl that they have international importance and need protection. Many waterfowl here means that at least 20,000 individuals regularly inhabit the area or at least 1% of a population of a species or subspecies is present. The wetlands of international importance not only include areas for birds but also areas that are important for other organisms. These are, for example, areas crucial for foraging, spawning, growth, or resting of important fish stocks. The Ramsar sites are designated by each individual country.

All of Denmark's Ramsar sites are part of the EU bird protection areas and are therefore also part of the NATURA 2000 network.

The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation

Since 1978, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark have been collaborating to protect the Wadden Sea. These countries cooperate on various aspects, including nature and environmental monitoring. The three countries have signed a Wadden Sea Plan and a Joint Declaration that outline guidelines for the management of the Wadden Sea. The collaboration primarily focuses on nature and environmental monitoring, administration, and planning, but it also takes into account cultural and demographic factors and addresses coastal security.

The trilateral cooperation on the Wadden Sea aims to protect the Wadden Sea area from pollution and degradation while allowing for activities such as agriculture, fishing, tourism, and other industries.

The three countries involved in this cooperation have adopted a common management framework for the Wadden Sea in the form of a Wadden Sea Plan and a Joint Declaration. This common management plan obliges the countries to work towards reducing pollution in the Wadden Sea from external sources, such as the major European rivers.

The Wadden Sea Plan has been integrated into the Danish management of the Wadden Sea