European Natura 2000 Award
“We are very honoured to accept the prize on behalf of the Danube collaboration” said Georg Frank, one of the two representatives who collected the 2015 Cross-border cooperation and Networking award. Georg Frank and Anatolie Risina work respectively for a National Park in Austria bordering Slovakia and a protected area between Moldavia and Romania and so have high awareness of how essential cross-border collaboration within and outside the EU is for their day-to-day work. “The many people who have engaged with such enthusiasm in the joint work will be delighted by this European-level recognition. At the start of the collaboration, those involved, thought working across the different languages and cultures was a great challenge. While it is not always simple, the vast majority no longer regard these differences as a barrier to a successful collaboration”.
Passing through 10 countries, the Danube is the world’s most international river. With its diverse habitats, it forms the backbone for biodiversity in South East Europe.
Within DANUBEPARKS, managers of all relevant Danube Protected Areas and over 30 Natura 2000 sites on the Danube are systematically tackling common challenges on a Danube-wide scale through transnational task forces and strategies. Since 2009, over 150 actions have been implemented along the river corridor. The have focused on habitat management, conservation of flagship species, river restoration, nature tourism and public awareness. DANUBEPARKS is an example of a successful integrated approach, including inland waterways, forestry and tourism. Huge interest in DANUBEPARKS’ festivals, events and publications highlights the leading role of Protected Areas in stimulating the public’s fascination with Natura 2000 sites.
Collaboration on nature management along the Danube area began in the 1990s and gradually expanded to include more partners as its success was recognised. “It is hard to establish a transnational network. To establish and sustain it in the long term, however is even harder. The fact we have received this Award should act as a signal to representatives of the European Commission and the Parliament that such initiatives are of high importance for nature conservation and need political support to be maintained”, Mr. Frank concluded.