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Breaking Barriers: Stakeholder and Public Engagement for Natura 2000 sites

Dates: 11 - 12 June 2015

Location: Bristol, UK (venue to be confirmed)



In June 2014, a consultation and information sharing session was held between members of the ECNC- European Centre for Nature Conservation and members of the Bristol Natural History Consortium ( The session provided an opportunity for BNHC members to find out more information about the European Commission’s Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process, especially conservation and stakeholder engagement  experience (including for example, Quality Destination programme).The session further provided an opportunity for ECNC staff to understand the structure and aims of the Consortium and, in particular, the partnership approach that is being utilised in order to engage large numbers of stakeholders as well as thousands of members of the public each year for biodiversity and conservation issues. Bristol Natural History Consortium is currently based on the common agendas of 12 core members, integrating conservation, broadcast media, academic research and policy approaches through their activities.

In January 2015, Bristol began its year as “European Green Capital” with an opportunity and responsibility to develop new types of environmental programmes and communications pilots, and to share these with other cities and regions in Europe.

This event has been jointly developed by ECNC and the BNHC to share information and experiences about methods and approaches required for effective public communication and outreach. The main aim is to discuss and define how to ‘break down the barriers’, often identified with regard to nature, its conservation and policies, and enable people and non-environmental organisations to engage positively for and with nature.


Objectives of the event

  • To build on Bristol’s year as European Green Capital and contribute to current practice in environmental communication through this flagship European event.
  • To extend learning about best practice programmes delivered by Bristol Natural History Consortium (already shared widely with European colleagues) by linking them to the priorities of Natura 2000 conservation.
  • To run an intensive open space workshop that brings together key sector leaders and gather their views about innovative ways to develop new thinking within society for nature.

This event, “Breaking Barriers: Stakeholder and Public Engagement for Natura 2000 sites”, will involve a series of expert interventions and the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the field on planned site visits.


Who should attend?

The target audience for this event are individuals working at local, regional and international levels, primarily in the field of Natura 2000 and with responsibilities for stakeholder engagement actions. Specifically, the programme features an opportunity for “buddying” or “twinning”, where those involved in different Natura 2000 sites can join forces and explore potential collaboration and continuing learning opportunities beyond this networking event. The aim here is to spark new forms of cooperation where that would allow greater learning: whether formal or informal, and should participants so wish, there is scope for on-going networking as a means to generate a ‘multiplier’ effect following the workshop.
The target audience will include representatives drawn from the sectors promoted by BNHC at local, regional and international levels. Participants will therefore be a mix of individuals who can deliver best results for engagement with Natura 2000 sites, including  conservation experts, especially those engaged in public outreach, education and interpretation fields, communication experts, and policy and media specialists.


Expected outputs

  • Participants develop simple workshop reporting materials that can be easily shared through thought-pieces, online material, or simple “how-to guides”;
  • Effective communication and outreach methods and tools identified – what works best for Natura 2000 and what are the key concepts and messages that reach targeted audiences;
  • A minimum of four international case studies to present ideas, methods and approaches being developed and applied for communicating Natura 2000;
  • Consideration of opportunities to link to EU and international funding programmes;
  • Two to three potential “buddying” or “twinning” pilots identified for post-event cooperation;
  • Confirm links between Natura 2000 and the goals of the Green Capital Europe programme and consider how best to achieve ‘fit’ within a diverse programme – the aim here will be to position Natura 2000 as an integral and essential component of a wider agenda of sustainability, socio-economic goals and objectives and, in particular, effective stakeholder engagement and public involvement techniques;
  • A summary report available on the BNHC, Bristol 2015, ECNC and Natura 2000 Platform  following the event;
  • Impact and evaluation report based on qualitative interviews with all attendees, media report and other impact report.

Structure of the event

This 2-day networking event includes a half day for field visits to enable participants to see the forms of cooperation and collaborations being established in Natura 2000 sites for biodiversity and nature conservation.



You can download the latest draft programme herepdf(487 kB).



Workshop sessions on Day 1 include:

  • Social science – current trends in stakeholder and public engagement
  • Learning from others – best practices in engagement with Natura 2000 and related sites
  • Consultation vs engagement vs PR – participation continuum (ladder)
  • Research impact vs Programme Impact
  • The role of programme staff, and a review of current training structures
  • Natura 2000 and the Platform – current trends, communication tools etc. 
  • Contribution of Natura 2000 to Green Capital

The workshop will also include a social event on the first night. This will be informal, but designed to continue ‘breaking barriers’ by asking participants to make an informal presentation to a wider group (approximately an additional 30 stakeholders) in order to continue experience sharing, information gathering and learning. A representative of the core workshop will be appointed to give a short, lively summary of the day’s discussions and to collect questions and further comments in a fun and interactive manner.

The second day will include 2 local field visits with the workshop group split into two groups. The visits will include a set of questions and tasks for participants to feed into a plenary discussion session. This will then be followed by a question and answers session and conclusions.



The intention of the workshop is to produce new thinking about ways to engage and involve Stakeholders and the Public for Natura 2000. Of particular interest, will be approaches that go beyond simple consultation techniques and which are linked to wider public engagement agendas – specifically, there are opportunities to share information and experiences about ways to integrate priorities for nature within wider social and economic agendas.  Additionally, during the planned field visits, there will be opportunities to see how various outreach techniques, used with a wide range of stakeholders, are applied and developed in practice.



This event is designed for a restricted number of participants. In order to register and secure a place, please send an email to: at your earliest convenience.



Ms Aysegul Cil (

Ms. Savita Custead (


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