European Natura 2000 Award
“The development of management plans for all Natura 2000 sites is a major concern for all environmental administrations in Spain. The high degree of decentralisation increases the need for cooperation between regional governments,” says José Antonio Atauri of EUROPARC España, a partner in the Natura 2000 Award-winning project on networking and cross-border cooperation.
Spain’s government structure means that over 20 different public administrations draw up and implement site-management plans. Two non-profit organisations, Fundación Fernando González Bernáldez and EUROPARC, have worked together to foster a consistent approach and to make sure that Natura 2000 achieves its goal of protecting all habitat types and species. They launched a technical cooperation network covering local, regional and national administrations. “The networking activities, and practical tools for developing management plans, have resulted in decision-making based on better knowledge, and management plans that fulfil all the European Commission’s requirements,” explains Mr Atauri.
The network has set up a working group with more than 90 experts, who have agreed quality standards for drafting management plans, based on best practice, as well as objectively verifiable criteria for evaluating existing plans. It runs thematic workshops and seminars, and maintains a reference website on the Natura 2000 planning process in Spain. The Rebollar de Navalpotro Site of Community Importance in Guadalajara, Castilla La Mancha – one of seven sites selected for pilot projects – has benefited directly from these activities. As a result, it will be better able to ensure favourable conservation status for its native habitats and species.
EUROPARC’s website now gets more than 100 000 hits a year, and disseminates information to 2000 readers. But Mr Atauri believes that Spain’s general public – as well as its landowners – still know too little about Natura 2000. “We hope that the award will help to promote the value of Natura 2000 and its contribution to social welfare,” he says.
“The award is recognition of 20 years building professional networks in protected areas,” says Mr Atauri. The resulting tools and models could be a useful support for Natura 2000 in other EU countries – especially the newer Member States.
Natura 2000 site Rebollar de Navalpotro, Spain