European Natura 2000 Award
This pan-European Award recognises excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation achievements, showcasing the added value for local economies, and increasing public awareness of Europe's valuable natural heritage.
The Natura 2000 network covers an enormous variety of different sites across the continent. It preserves and enhances Europe’s biodiversity, safeguarding it for future generations, and it provides a range of important benefits, helping nature to help us.
But despite its size and its many benefits, many people have never even heard of it. According to a recent survey, only 27% of respondents have heard of Natura 2000, and only 11% really know what it is.
This is why, in 2014, the European Commission launched the annual Natura 2000 Award. The aim of the award is to demonstrate what the network is, what it does to preserve Europe’s biodiversity, and how it benefits all of us. The award recognises good practice at Natura 2000 sites in five different categories: Communication, Socio-economic benefits, Conservation, Reconciling interests/perceptions, and Cross-border cooperation and networking.
Calls for applications usually take place during the winter months (December - January) and will be announced well in advance. Sign up to the newsletter and keep an eye on the Home page for news. The winners of the six awards are announced at a high level Ceremony in Brussels on Natura 2000 Day (21 May). In addition to receiving their trophy, the winners receive support in organising local events to highlight their achievements.
A lot! Did you know, for example, that healthy freshwater ecosystems provide clean water and help remove pollutants from the surrounding countryside? That peat bogs help store carbon and forests improve air and soil quality? Natura 2000 protects these functions and many more besides, as well as providing space for sustainable recreational activities such as hiking and fishing, and economic opportunities such as eco-tourism and the production of timber and food.