New prize for nature conservation


Europeans are strong believers in nature conservation. However, many are unaware of the things the EU is doing to protect our environment and biodiversity. The Commission has launched a new Natura 2000 Award to recognise excellence in nature conservation in the EU – and to increase public awareness of Natura 2000’s role in protecting our natural heritage, recognising its value to local economies. The winners will be announced at a high-level ceremony in Brussels on 21 May.

Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas with high biodiversity value that covers around 20% of EU territory. Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 – local authorities, businesses, NGOs, land owners, educational institutions and individuals – can apply for the annual Natura 2000 Award.

Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas with high biodiversity value that covers around 20% of EU territory.

According to a recent poll, nine out of ten Europeans see the decline of natural habitats and the endangering and disappearance of certain animals and plants as serious problems. Similar numbers believe in the importance of nature protection to prevent the destruction of valuable natural areas, whether on land or at sea.

However, less than a third have heard of Natura 2000, despite its key contribution to protecting nature and the significant social and economic benefits it provides.

Shining a spotlight

The new Award showcases Natura 2000’ great achievements in protecting and restoring our natural heritage and maintaining its value to local economies, as well as highlighting the wide variety of high biodiversity value areas covered by the 27 000 areas included in the network across Europe. Each year, five prizes will be awarded, for:

Winners of the first Natura 2000 Award will be announced on 21 May.
  • communication,
  • conservation actions,
  • socio-economic benefits,
  • reconciling interests and perceptions, and
  • networking and cross-border cooperation.

The 2014 winners of this first Natura 2000 Award will be announced by the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, and the jury members at a high-level ceremony on 21 May. The jury consists of Karl Falkenberg, Director-General of DG Environment, Matthias Groote, Chair of the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament, Thierry de l'Escaille, Secretary-General of the European Landowner's Organisation, Tony Long, CEO of WWF Europe, and Kadri Tillemann, a member of the ENVI committee of Committee of the Regions and Chair of Keila Rural Municipality Council, Estonia.


Nature and biodiversity