In this third edition of the Award, the Conservation category has again proved to be the most popular (31 applications), followed by Communication (22), Reconciling Interests and Perceptions (10), Socio-Economic Benefits (7) and Cross-Border Cooperation and Networking (5). Please discover the exciting range of activities covered by the applications here.
Evaluation of applications
The selection process consists of three steps: eligibility, selection and decision. The process begins with the closure of the call for applications, and will be completed with the announcement of the winners at a ceremony in Brussels in May 2018.
All applications are first screened for their eligibility. Applications must refer to a Natura 2000 site, be based in the EU, present results achieved in the last five years, and refer to species and/or habitat types in the annexes of the Directives (if they refer to particular species/habitat types in the application). The full eligibility requirements are explained in the guidelines for applicants.
All eligible applications are then assessed by an independent evaluation team for their effectiveness, originality, durability, costs and benefits, and replicability. The shortlist of finalists is then sent for consideration by the high level jury to decide on the winners for each category. At the same time, the public votes directly for their favourite applicant to win the European Citizens’ Award.
The Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process
The second Natura 2000 Seminar for the Mediterranean region took place from 14 to 16 November in Limassol, Cyprus. It was hosted by Terra Cypria, the Cyprus conservation foundation and supported by the Cypriot Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment. The seminar was attended by 92 participants from 13 Member States. It included a full day field visit to the mountainous Troodos forest.
The discussions focussed on the following themes: 1. Assessment and sustainable development of ecosystems; 2. Conservation objectives, monitoring and evaluation; 3. Effective governance models for integrated approaches to implement Natura; 4. Addressing threats and pressure on Mediterranean habitats and species. Conservation issues of major interest for the Mediterranean region, including ideas for concrete cooperation and future initiatives to improve the management of Natura 2000 were identified and will be examined further in follow-up workshops and networking activities. Detailed results, working documents and presentations of the seminar is available on the meeting webpage.
Information on past and future activities such as the seminars planned in 2018 for the Continental, Pannonian, Black Sea and Steppic regions, and the second Marine Natura 2000 seminar will be added to the Natura 2000 Communication Platform.
Updated Natura 2000 viewer
The Natura 2000 viewer makes it possible to explore Natura 2000 sites in every part of the EU at the press of a button. The public viewer is an interactive and user-friendly tool that allows the user to travel seamlessly through the Natura 2000 sites over different types of backgrounds and to quickly locate sites and related information on species and habitats of interest.
The tool, intended to raise awareness about Natura 2000, has been recently updated by the European Environment Agency to be even more comprehensive. In addition to incorporating the latest Article 17 reporting data on the state of species and habitats protected under the Habitats Directive and the Standard Data Forms for each Natura 2000 site, new search functions and display options have been added. For instance, one can now search for the breeding distribution area of a particular bird species within the EU. The Viewer is also now directly linked up with ArcGIS which enables users to add data to the map by searching amongst some 200,000 different layers available in ArcGIS Online (e.g. elevation maps, land use maps, World Heritage Sites etc.).
2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage
Next year has been declared the European Year of Cultural Heritage. It aims to celebrate Europe’s richly diverse heritage by bringing communities together and building a shared understanding of the places we live in.
A wide range of activities and initiatives will be organised all around Europe to get people interested and involved in cultural heritage. This includes of course natural heritage, and everyone is encouraged to join in and organise an event to celebrate nature and culture in their area. This could for instance be done in combination with the Natura 2000 days or LIFE-Nature and biodiversity events. A dedicated website will be launched in December to register your event and see what else is going on.
In anticipation of the European Year, the Commission has recently published a new study presenting a series of long and short case studies on ‘Linking Natura 2000 and cultural heritage’. It showcases practical examples of how the management of nature and culture has been successfully integrated across Europe, highlighting the actual or potential role played by the Natura 2000 network. A number of the applications for the Natura 2000 Award also demonstrate the links between nature and culture.
LIFE 2017 Application round now closed
By the deadline of September, the European Commission has received 629 proposals for environment and climate protection projects under the LIFE Programme. Of the new proposals, 507 focus on nature conservation.
More than 3000 organisations spread across all 28 Member States have applied for LIFE funding, requesting more than €1 billion in EU funding – four times the available budget (€254 million). Between November and next March, expert panels will evaluate the proposals with a view to preparing grant agreements prepared in spring 2018 so that the new projects can be launched from July 2018 onwards.
Green cities for a greener future: 21-25 May 2018
The next edition of EU Green Week will explore ways in which the EU is helping cities to become better places to live and work.
Green week will promote participatory approaches to urban development, networking schemes, and tools for sharing best practices, engaging local authorities and citizens, and encouraging them to share their vision of a sustainable future. The European Commission is now launching a call for organisations that are interested in organising these opening and closing events.