You are here: / Biodiversity / Legal aspects

Biodiversity is a matter of international concern. The character of biodiversity demands that it is managed in an international context including commitment and policy development. Local legislation should thus emerge from internationally co-ordinated conventions.

The Convention on Biological Diversity

In 1992, the largest-ever meeting of world leaders took place at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. An historic set of agreements was signed at the "Earth Summit", including two binding agreements, the Convention on Climate Change, which targets industrial and other emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, the first global agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The biodiversity treaty gained rapid and widespread acceptance. Over 150 governments signed the document at the Rio conference, and since then more than 175 countries have ratified the agreement.

The Convention has three main goals:

  • The conservation of biodiversity,
  • Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity, and
  • Sharing the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way

The Convention is comprehensive in its goals, and deals with an issue so vital to humanity's future, that it stands as a landmark in international law. It recognizes-for the first time-that the conservation of biological diversity is "a common concern of humankind" and is an integral part of the development process. The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources. It links traditional conservation efforts to the economic goal of using biological resources sustainably. It sets principles for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, notably those destined for commercial use. It also covers the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology, addressing technology development and transfer, benefit-sharing and biosafety. Importantly, the Convention is legally binding; countries that join it are obliged to implement its provisions.

More information on the Convention on Biological Diversity can be found here.

Local legislation

Local legislation is often present from the past. However, globalisation and the related problems due to climate change request for internationally co-ordinated action. Ideally, this will result in intenational agreements with commitment and enforcement by governments on local level.

It is a complex and time consuming task to develop local legislation in that framework. The following list provides an overview of legislation and measures that can be developed. It goes without saying that (international and national) co-ordination of these methods are essential for having an efficient and effective national legislative framework.

Customary and traditional legal measures

National legislation

Regulatory measures

Species-orientated legal measures

Regulating use of protected areas

Land-use planning legislation

Legal protection of representative habitat types

Regulating processes and activities detrimental to biodiversity

Regulating access to genetic resources

Procedures for conserving biodiversity

International law

Regional and sectoral treaties

Example: Legal protection of Bulgarian biodiversity

Bulgaria has one of the greatest biodiversity in Europe. Of particular interest is the high level of endemism - species occurring only in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the world. In addition, Bulgaria has a very rare species, many of which are included in the list of globally threatened species.
Under tight security throughout the country have placed 567 plants and 421 wild animal species, most of which are subject to protection under EU directives and international conventions. Using more than 80 species of plants and animals is under special regulation in order to prevent deterioration of their populations in the country.

Biodiversity in Bulgaria is very rich, because the climate, geology, topography and hydrological conditions are very diverse. In fact in Bulgaria can be found almost all European habitat types. To these are added a significant number of unique and representative ecosystems and communities that have significant value in terms of biodiversity.

The State builds and provides the performance and preservation of a system of protected areas as part of regional and global network of such areas in accordance with international treaties on environmental protection, to which Bulgaria is a party.

The Law on Protected Areas regulates the categories of protected areas, their purpose and mode of preservation and use, disclosure and governance. The law aims at protection and conservation of protected areas, national and human wealth and property as a special form of protection of native nature, contributing to the development of culture and science and the welfare of society.
As a main criterion for membership of a protected area to one or another category using objective of management. So are formulated 6 basic categories of protected areas:

1. reserve
2. national park
3. landmark
4. maintained reserve
5. park
6. protected area

Ministry of Environment and Water and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestryensureimplementation of national and regional campaigns to explain the purpose and objectives of protected areas.
In the protected areas is prohibited activities contrary to the requirements for protection of specific objects subject to protection. National parks, reserves and maintained reserves are exclusive state property. Other categories of protected areas can be public, state, municipal public and / or private property.
The territory of the Black Sea region (districts of Varna, Dobrich and Bourgas) inclides 179 protected areas, as follows: 9 reserves, 9 maintained reserves, 2 natural parks, 95 protected areas and 159 natural landmarks.





Specific background information on ICZM, biodiversity and the legislative framework of Russia can be found here.

Loss of habitat due to amber mining on the Baltic Sea coast