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.
Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 - businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, land owners, educational institutions and individuals - can apply for the award. Applications for the 2015 award can be submitted between 24 November 2014 and 21 January 2015. They will be assessed by a team of independent experts.
The finalists will be invited to a high level ceremony in Brussels where the winners will be announced. In addition to receiving their trophy, the winners will receive support in organising local events to highlight their achievements. To find out more about this year's applicants see the application summaries.
You can read about the 2014 applications on the 2014 applications page and in the Environmental Benchmarking Report for 2014.
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.