There is extensive international cooperation on nature conservation and protected areas. A number of Norway’s protected areas are considered to be so important that they have international status.
The world’s first international conservation organisation, the International Council for Bird Preservation (the forerunner of BirdLife International) was founded in 1922 . But international cooperation first gained real momentum with the founding of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1948.
Since then many other important organisations have been established. One of the best known is WWF, originally the World Wildlife Fund, which started up in 1960.
Continued international cooperation has resulted in the adoption of a number of international conventions, which are legally binding for countries that become parties to them.
Some of the most important environmental conventions are the 1975 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the 1979 Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Norway has 37 sites on the Ramsar list of wetlands.
One of the obligations the parties to the Bern Convention have undertaken is to set up a network of “areas of special conservation interest”, called the Emerald Network. Many of Norway’s protected areas qualify for inclusion in the network. Norway is in the process of drawing up a proposal for which of them should be included. For more information see the link to the report on the pilot project in the column on the right.
The 1975 World Heritage Convention is a global agreement on the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Norway has been a party to the convention since 1977, and there are seven Norwegian sites on the World Heritage List. At two of these sites, the Vega Archipelago (inscribed in 2004) and the West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord (inscribed 2005) almost all of the area consists of national-level protected areas.