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Networking and cross-border cooperation

©Lyudmila Dimitrova

Private ranger for endangered birds in southern Baden-Württember - Germany
Milttlere Schwabische Alb – DE7422441


A ranger with a passion for protecting endangered birds in his part of southern Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The work involves extensive travel and monitoring of a large area which is time-consuming and costly (in terms of fuel). The applicant would welcome the attention that winning the Natura 2000 Award would garner for his cause and the financial benefit would help him continue his efforts to patrol an area spanning some 2200 km2 including difficult terrain and sections along the Neckar river.

©Lyudmila Dimitrova

Cross-border corridor between Natura 2000 protected sites Lomovete, Bulgaria and Comana, Romania - Bulgaria
Lomovete - BG0000608


The main sites this project covered include: Lomovete, Complex Kalimok, Kalimok-Brushlen, Ludogorie, Marten-Rjahovo, Ludogorie-Boblata, and Boblata. It also covers protected territories in Bulgaria and Lung Island-Gostinu, Danube-Oltenita, and Comana protected territories in Romania, which form part of the Natura 2000 network. The common nature habitats are the main habitats covered in Romania and Bulgaria, 13 and six from each country respectively are classed as high-priority habitats.

The main species covered in the Lomovete protected site in Bulgaria, under the Habitat Directive, are: two plant species, 11 invertebrate species, eight fish species, seven amphibian and reptile species, four species of mammals (excluding bats), 25 species of bats, and 195 species of birds. In Romania, the main species covered were: three plant species, nine invertebrate species, three fish species, two amphibian and reptile species, and 45 species of birds.

The main activities conducted included creating a proposal for the establishment of an ecological corridor to protect species movement between the protected sites and an elaboration of a model management plan. The creation of more favourable conditions for the movement of species between protected sites was one of the main achievements of this project.

©Association des chargés de mission Natura 200 0 - Bretagne

Association of Natura 2000 site managers of Brittany: a human network serving the Natura 2000 policy - France
Rivière Elorn - FR5300024


In Brittany, the regional environment directorate (DREAL) has been an active part of the Natura 2000 network for 10 years, mainly through organising training days for site managers. However, it was felt that more action was needed for managers to share their experiences, skills and expertise. To improve the day-to-day implementation of the Natura 2000 policy, an association of Natura 2000 Brittany site managers was created, a group made up of site managers for site managers. Its goals are to encourage the exchange of experiences within the network, to represent site managers in dealings with regional institutions or other decision-making entities and strengthen the ownership of this policy by local elected representatives. Stemming from an initial group that met several times to develop projects, the association was officially created in 2011, bringing together all of Brittany’s Natura 2000 site managers.

Today, 38 members (each managing one or more Natura 2000 sites) carry out the association’s objectives. Each member can contribute to the actions of the association by: meeting state departments, being involved in decision-making entities, drafting press articles to promote the network and its benefits, and so on. Now after two years of development, the association is ready to pursue new projects. It is the first association of its kind in France; it is an inspiration for other regions.

Quality standards for Natura 2000 site ‘Rebollar de navalpotro’ management plan - Spain
Rebollar de Navalpotro - ES4240012


In Spain, all public authorities responsible for the management of Natura 2000 sites are busy drafting and approving management plans for all ‘Sites of community importance’ and ‘Special protected areas’. There are over 20 different public administrations – due to the high degree of decentralisation – conducting these plans, often without a common approach. To ensure the consistency of the network and that it reaches the goal of maintaining ‘favourable conservation status’ for all habitat types and species of community interest, the Fundación Fernando González Bernáldez and EUROPARC Spain have launched a technical cooperation network covering all administrations (local, regional and national) to develop practical tools for the effective management of the Natura 2000 network.

Actions taken include the formalisation of a working group with more than 90 technicians, thematic workshops, the development and dissemination of a quality standard for management plans, its pilot implementation in a sample site of community importance, and the creation and maintenance of a reference website on the state of development of the Natura 2000 network in Spain. ‘Rebollar of Navalpotro’ in Guadalajara, Castilla La Mancha – a site of community importance – was selected as an exemplary area where all of these actions have been successfully applied. The project has resulted in the development of a management plan according to the quality criteria and best practices identified in the cooperation network.

© Melchert zu Slochteren

De Groote Meer, pearl of the Brabantse Wal - Netherlands
Brabantse Wal - NL3009003


The Natura 2000 area of Brabantse Wal has suffered from serious desiccation since the 1970s. This is visible at De Groote Meer, a soft water lake that often dried out completely for long periods of time. Serious water management action was required to prevent irreparable damage to the vulnerable vegetation and the area received a ‘Sense of Urgency’ status. In 2008, the Province of Noord-Brabant, together with all stakeholders, started the Natura 2000 management plan.

The first step involved sharing the problem and determining what was needed to restore De Groote Meer. In anticipation of the management plan, seven parties in 2009 signed two covenants, based on an area-wide vision with a defined set of Natura 2000 objectives and necessary measurements. The southern part of the Brabantse Wal was covered in conjunction with the adjoining Flemish Natura 2000 area, Kalmthoutse Heide. An extensive set of measures have been carried out since 2009, including the reduction of drinking water extraction, the purchase and redevelopment of agricultural lands in the nature area, a modification of the water system and increased water supply. Another important part of the agreed plan was to increase knowledge and monitor its effects. The knowledge gained about the area and the (surface) water system forms the basis for follow-up action. Encouraged by these results, the involved parties decided to continue the fruitful partnership and are currently working towards a new plan.


Cross-regional cooperation to enhance the natural structure and public awareness of the Sonien Forest - Belgium
Zoniënwoud - BE2400008


The Sonian Forest, connected to Brussels, consists of 4 400 ha of top European nature. Each year, several million tourists visit the forest which is home for several Natura 2000 listed species. In 1980, the forest was legally assigned to three Belgian regions: 56% to the Flemish Region, 38% to the Brussels-Capital Region and 6% to the Walloon Region. In the past, the three regions each took care of the forest within their own territories. However, in 2008, the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital Regions decided to work together to better coordinate the various functions of the forest and its uses. Thereby, the three regions delineated the future of the forest in a ‘Structural vision for the Sonian Forest’ and committed themselves to cooperate more intensively to strengthen the forest.

Improved cooperation between the regions, from 2009 onwards, led to multiple successes: inventories, meetings on management plans, establishment of a participatory platform, improved public information by using a website and other publications. Furthermore, the cross-regional cooperation triggered a process to establish a recreational network and five entrance gates where visitors are welcomed to the forest and informed about Natura 2000, forest management and future projects. In order to enhance the mutual ecological, economic and social benefits, more cooperative projects will start between the three regions, different users and municipalities involved in the forest’s management.


Working together preserving the invisible: actions improving the quality of subterranean water - Spain
Zona volcanica de la garrotxa - ES5120004


Pollution of subterranean waters by agricultural nitrates is a problem affecting several areas in Europe. It is regulated by Directive 91/676/CEE. Among these areas are a number of protected Natura 2000 sites, such as the Natural Park of La Garrotxa Volcanic Region (NPG). To deal with this problem, the NPG is considering two key aspects: to adapt the actions undertaken to the characteristics of the region, such as hydrological conditions, soils, climate and agrarian and cattle raising systems, and at the same time to do this in partnership with several organisations.

This partnership allows the problem to be covered from all angles through a plan for improving agricultural fertilisation practices which includes research and experimentation actions, the transfer of information to the agrarian sector, and the monitoring of water quality. This transversal approach is made possible thanks to the partnership established between several organisations including universities, key actors in the agriculture sector, an agrarian research centre and public administration bodies. The actions included in the research and experimentation framework contribute to knowledge about the best fertilisation practices, taking into account specific conditions in the area. The knowledge found is passed on to farmers, providing information on how to best put it into practice, with the medium and long-term vision to improve water quality and how it is monitored.

©Riccardo Oggioni

Activities of the Natura 2000 Working Group of CEEweb for Biodiversity - Bulgaria
Central Balkan - BG0000494


CEEweb aims to conserve biodiversity in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. Its Natura 2000 working group has significantly raised awareness among CEE NGOs and other stakeholders. NGO input at EU and national level has been possible since the accession of Central and East European Member States. This input has contributed to the expansion of the Natura 2000 network in the region, and to the management and financing of designated sites. Information and publications have been produced and a communication campaigns conducted to reach a wider audience.

Activities have been structured under the themes: regular Natura 2000 working group meetings; thematic workshops; capacity-building events; recommendations and guidance; exchange of national experience, Natura 2000 management planning; biogeographic processes; financing Natura 2000; and communication campaigns. All outcomes of these activities are now available on the CEEweb website, ( Specific information about the Natura 2000 working group is available under the ‘work-areas/working-groups/natura-2000’ section. The CEEweb publications are also available online under the ‘publications-positions/booklets’ section. Photos and video found on the website were submitted as part of our short film and photo contests.


Karkonosze/KrkonoŇ°e transboundary cooperation for Natura 2000 - Poland
Karkonosze - PLH020006


Poland’s Karkonosze National Park (KPN) and the Czech KrkonoŇ°e National Park (KRNAP) have both in a unique way eliminated a legislative and organisational barrier in the management of Nature 2000 resources. The effectiveness of cooperation between the two parks has been confirmed with a ‘EUROPARC Federation Trans-boundary Parks’ prestigious certificate in 2004 and also 2011. The parks also have the first common logo in Europe. Both trans-boundary parks effectively make use of the possibilities available though joint actions in nature conservation. They have jointly completed several projects financed from different sources, mainly from EU funds.

These projects concerned all areas of the parks’ activity: ecological education, nature conservation and monitoring, GIS bases, exchange of experiences during placements and a language course. They key project, which can equally be a great summary of the cooperation between both parks, is the ‘Karkonosze in INSPIRE – common GIS in nature protection’ project. It aims to synchronise the information coming from 10 areas. This Polish-Czech geo-portal of Karkonosze will present and make available the collated nature information. Karkonosze National Park is the first national park in Poland which has collated and synchronised trans-boundary nature data and created a common, international geo-portal.

Cross-border partnership for the conservation of remarkable endemic species in a quarry - Greece
Limnothalassa Kalogrias, Dasos Strofylias Kai Elos Lamias, Araxos - GR2320001


Araxos limestone quarry is located within a national park in the Peloponnese region, in the west of Greece. The national park consists of strofylia forest and kotychi lagoons, both protected by the Ramsar Convention for Wetlands, and has been identified as a Natura 2000 zone. This project describes a special collaboration between Greece and France which was developed through a partnership between Lafarge Beton, the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest and the Botanical Department of the University of Patras, under the supervision of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in France.

The collaboration was set up to help conserve the remarkable endemic species in the quarry area. The partnership agreed on a project which consisted of two parts. The first part, lasting three years, developed a plan for the conservation of Centaurea niederi – listed as a remarkable endemic species in Annex II of the Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention – which lives on the cliffs of the Mavra Vouna area near the Araxos quarry, the subject of this competition entry. The entry describes how seeds of Centaurea niederi were collected, preserved, propagated and successfully planted in their natural environment under the careful supervision of the University of Patras, the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest and IUCN France.