European Diploma of Protected Areas

Since the creation of the European Diploma for Protected Areas, 74 protected areas have received it. Among them is the Matsalu National Park


Rannamõisa and Rõude  river flowing into the Matsalu Bay reed beds
MATSALU NATIONAL PARK. The Rannamõisa and Rõude rivers flow into the Matsalu Bay in reed beds. By: Kaarel Kaisel.


The European Diploma of Protected Areas is a prestigious international award given by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe since 1965.


The diploma values natural and semi-natural communities and landscapes that are of exceptional European importance for the conservation of biological, geological, and landscape diversity and are managed in an exemplary manner. Protected areas may receive a diploma for outstanding scientific, cultural, or aesthetic qualities. In addition, protection procedure appropriate to the protected area must be in place. Since the creation of the diploma, 74 protected areas have received it. The areas that have received the diploma are located in 29 European countries.


Matsalu reed bed
MATSALU REED BED. So far, the Matsalu National Park is the only Baltic state area to have received a European Diploma of Protected Areas. By: Argo Argel

In order to obtain the diploma, the country submits an application to the Council of Europe, where it is reviewed by a special group of specialists – the Group of Experts on Protected Areas and Ecological Networks of the Bern Convention. The experts will decide whether the proposed site deserves recognition at European level. This may be followed by an on-site assessment to examine in detail the characteristics of the protected area, the effectiveness and quality of the protection measures, and the related problems. The group of experts will then decide whether to forward the request to the Committee of Ministers. The latter decides on awarding the European diploma. In most cases, the proposal of the group of experts for the award of a diploma is accompanied by a number of recommendations and conditions for improving the management or the protection procedure of the protected area.


The diploma is initially awarded for five years. In the future, if the requirements are met, it can be extended for ten-year periods.


The authorities responsible for the management of the protected area awarded the diploma must send an annual report to the Council of Europe outlining the measures taken to comply with the recommendations and conditions of the diploma.



Last modified: 27.12.2021