It is estimated that 200 species go extinct every 24 hours somewhere in the world because of anthropogenic activities. Apart from ethical grounds, species contribution to global biodiversity and ecosystem stability is lost. This is continuing at an increasing rate as the world's population soars whilst seeking modern development. Since species are principally lost by loss of habitat, the prime objective in conserving species is to conserve their habitats ([in situ]). Captive breeding and propagation of endangered species and subsequent reintroduction into the wild is another strategy used ([ex situ]). Both may be combined for maximum success. Non-threatened stocks should not be allowed to decline to an endangered status. Taking development into account, individuals, governments and the world community should do all they can to prevent the extinction of species.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends the drawing up of breed preservation plans for endangered populations, including semen/embryo collection and storage, farm-based conservation of indigenous stock or [in situ] preservation.
In order to assure coherence between ASCIs to be designated under the [Bern Convention] and the [Special Areas of Conservation] (SACs) designated under the [Habitats Directive], the Standing Committee adopted in January 1996 Resolution 3 concerning the setting up of a [Pan-European Ecological Network], coined [Emerald Network]. It resolved to: (1) set up the [Emerald Network], which would include the ASCIs designated under the Convention; (2) set up a group of experts to carry out the necessary activities related to the building up of the network; (3) invite European states which have observer status in the Standing Committee to participate in the network; (4) encourage the Parties and observer states to designate ASCIs and notify them to the Secretariat.
The member states of the EU satisfy the habitat requirements of the [Bern Convention] through the implementation of the [Habitats Directive]. The SPAs and SACs classified under the [Birds Directive] and the [Habitats Directive] will automatically become part of the [Emerald Network].
A Standing Committee has been set up with responsibility for the application of the Convention. Any Party may be represented on the Standing Committee by one or more delegates, as well as observer states and NGOs. Designation of ASCIs started in 1999. The states are required to notify the secretariat of the ASCIs for validation by the secretariat and incorporation into the [Emerald Network].