European Natura 2000 Award
"Today nature is happy", Asunción Ruiz from SEO/BirdLife, winner of the 2015 Natura 2000 Citizens' Award along with partner BirdLife Europe. "The Citizens' Award was the best prize we could win. To win under this category is like achieving the real butterfly effect, where the flap of a single butterfly's wings can change the world. We need nature to change the world", she added.
With the aim of raising awareness about the Natura 2000 network, SEO/BirdLife and BirdLife Europe work for establishing the ‘European Natura 2000 Day’, as part of the LIFE+ project ‘Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity’, implemented in partnership with Agencia EFE. In order to promote the initiative, everyone is asked to make a gesture with their hands, in the shape of a butterfly, to show support for preserving nature and wildlife.
"This particular project is the result of the successful collaboration of the NGO BirdLife and the news agency EFE in raising awareness about Natura 2000, which is still unknown for many European citizens. We think that the involvement of all stakeholders, but specially citizens, is critical to achieve the protection of nature", commented Arturo Larena from Agencia EFE.
Each year, activities are dedicated to a particular Natura 2000 site in Europe. In 2014, it was the turn of Doñana, a vast area of coastal wetland, dunes, cork oak, pine forest and ‘matorral’ in southern Spain that supports thousands of species, including the Spanish Imperial eagle and Iberian Lynx. Since the beginning of the campaign in 2013, more than 19,000 people have joined the different events across Europe and over 3 million social network accounts have been reached.
"This LIFE+ project exceeded everybody's expectations, as the Natura 2000 Day celebrations were originally foreseen for just four countries, but in 2014 they have already reached 19 EU Member States", said Asunción Ruiz.