The European Green Belt, our shared natural heritage along the line of the former Iron Curtain, is to be conserved and restored as an ecological network connecting high-value natural and cultural landscapes while respecting the economic, social and cultural needs of local communities.



"Pearls" along the Green Belt

The outstanding importance of the pan-European ecological network is clear. The Green Belt’s 12,500 kilometres feature an accumulation of large nature reserves:

Among these are national parks, nature reserves, Sites of Community Importance (Habitat Directive), Special Protected Areas (Bird Directive) and biosphere reserves. Thanks to the unique integration of a wide range of plant communities and habitat types, the Green Belt sustains an extraordinary wealth of diversity.

Nevertheless, the outstanding ecological value of the European Green Belt cannot be defined simply by totalling up its conservation sites. The habitat network is embedded in a matrix of regular landscapes, i.e. landscapes that are subject to various uses and use pretensions and burdens. Due to the remoteness of most areas along the borders, the whole strip has remained nearly unbroken in terms of preserving Europe's natural heritage. Green Belt Europe thus represents an important contribution towards the realisation of international conservation area networks and multilateral environmental agreements. These include:

  • the Emerald network
  • the EU’s Natura –2000 network and the Habitats Directive
  • the Council of Europe’s PEEN/PEBLDS.
  • the Bern convention
  • CBD (convention concerning biological diversity)

In addition, the Green Belt initiative aims to harmonise protection efforts in transboundary protected areas, which are currently characterised by significant asymmetries in terms of protection status, and also to integrate human activities with the natural environment in protected as well as non-protected areas.