Belgium and the Convention on Biological Diversity

Legislation and policy


This page gives an overview of the agreements and legislation that apply to nature and biodiversity issues in Belgium. The number of pieces of legislation is such that is its not possible to list them all in detail, but you will find links to web sites with more detailed information.

There are four levels of legislation that are applicable to Belgium.

International legislation

Belgium has ratified a number of international agreements and is responsible for their implementation. 

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention)
  • The World Heritage Convention (WHC)
  • The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention or CMS)
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

European legislation

Belgium, as one of the Member States of the European Union has to follow and to adapt its laws and policies in order to comply with those established by the EU. It has also signed a number of agreements at pan-European level.

EU legislative framework:

  • The Birds Directive
  • The Habitats Directive
  • The Water Framework Directive
  • Forest Policy - Forest Focus
  • The Common Agricultural Policy
  • The Biodiversity Strategy and its action plans
  • The Sixth Environmental Action Programme
  • The Sustainable Development Strategy
  • The Forestry Strategy
  • The Marine Strategy

For an introduction to Community law, see the fact sheets from the European Parliament.

Pan-european framework:

  • The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention)
  • The African Eurasian Migratory Water Bird Agreement (under CMS)
  • The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (under CMS)
  • The Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (under CMS)
  • The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)

Federal legislation

Several pieces of federal legislation established before the institutional reforms that lead to regionalisation of territorial matters are still applicable in Belgium (with the possibility of later amendments by the regions). The federal level is currently responsible for everything that falls within the sphere of foreign affairs, defense, justice, finances, social security, important sectors of public health and domestic affairs.

  • Forest Act (1884)
  • Law on nature conservation (1973)
  • ...

Regional legislation

Each of the three regions has developed its own legislation  competences that are related to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.


See also the site of the Belgian Monitor


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Last updated  07-12-2004

Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism, 2001.
On the Internet since 7 October 1996.
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Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences