Natura 2000 Award
This pan-European Award recognises excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation achievements, showcasing the added value of the network for local economies, and increasing public awareness about 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 successes, 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 the European Commission has launched the new annual Natura 2000 Award. The aim is to show people what the network is, how it works, and what it does to preserve Europe’s biodiversity. The award recognises good practices at Natura 2000 sites in five different categories: communication, socio-economic added value, conservation, reconciling interests/perceptions, and networking and cross-border cooperation.
Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 – businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, land owners, educational institutions or individuals – can apply for the award. Applications will be assessed by a jury of independent experts, with this year’s winners to be announced in May 2014. The winners will be invited to a high level ceremony in Brussels to receive their awards, and will get support to organise local events.
A lot! Have you ever considered how healthy freshwater ecosystems provide clean water and help remove pollutants from the surrounding countryside? How peat bogs help store carbon, or how forests improve air and soil quality, for example? Natura 2000 protects these functions and many more besides, providing space for sustainable recreational activities such as hiking and fishing, and economic opportunities such as timber and food.