European Natura 2000 Award
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Ķemeru Nacionālais parks - LV0200200More
The main Project area is Ķemeri National Park (KNP) - a wetland area of outstanding biodiversity (36 000 ha), established in 1997 and located just 40 km outside the capital city Riga. Some highlights of KNP’s main natural treasures:
About 4 000 people are currently living within the territory of the Park, over five municipalities. They are joined annually by 50-70 000 tourists. Thus, the role of communication has always been crucial to both involving different local stakeholders in nature conservation processes, and realizing the full potential of the area's strategic geographical position for raising public awareness on a wider scale. Various communication tools have been used for different target audiences, including nature education programmes for schoolchildren, nature education events for the wider public, informal gatherings for locals, a sustainable tourism forum for tourism stakeholders, etc.
Sintra-Cascais - PTCON0008More
Torres Vedras has two Sites of Community Importance (SCIs): Sintra-Cascais (PTCON0008) and Peniche-Santa Cruz (PTCON0056). Together, they cover an area of 1 783 ha, which corresponds to about 2.7% of the total area of the municipality.
In Torres Vedras municipality, the Sintra-Cascais SCI covers an area of 388 ha and is marked by a landscape of rocky cliffs and soft cliffs, alternating with narrow and extensive sandy beaches to the Sizandro river mouth. The Peniche-Santa Cruz SCI covers an area of 705 ha, including an extensive coastal strip that is characterized by dune systems and cliffs with well-structured plant communities.
Over the past few years, Torres Vedras has put a number of projects in place to reduce biodiversity loss and ensure access to nature for its inhabitants. Active involvement of the local population in projects to protect and manage the landscape has been a common practice. Since the establishment of the Natura 2000 Network, the Torres Vedras Municipality has developed progressive and consistent work for the identification, conservation and enhancement of existing habitats, and of wild fauna and flora species in their territory.
One of these projects is the ‘Great Trail Atlantic Path - Rede Natura Portugal West Coast’ route, organized in partnership between the municipalities of Torres Vedras, Lourinhã and Peniche, and co-financed by the ERDF under the Regional Operational Program. The main objective of this operation is to implement a pathway route for visitors. This comprised the installation of the route, the acquisition of signage and information boards, and communication actions including informative and educational materials, as well as communication resources.
In the province of Forlì-Cesena, in addition to the protected areas designated by the "Casentino Forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna" National Park and the "Bosco Scardavilla" Natural Reserve, there are 17 Sites of Community Importance (SCI), 4 of which are also Special Protection Areas (SPA), covering more than 12% of its surface area. The guide was developed with simplicity in mind, illustrating certain concepts that are sometimes difficult to grasp. It uses vocabulary that makes the concepts underlying the protection of the natural environment easy to understand. The aim was to figure out exactly what makes something a protected area, such as a park or reserve, and approach the work by looking at both international and local situations. The efforts were focused on sites in the Natura 2000 network, notably those that the European Union aims to preserve and restore through the Birds and Habitats Directives. To learn about and understand these concepts, we focused on the Natura 2000 network areas within the province of Forlì-Cesena, describing their composition, features and quality. By describing 15 sites and many hiking/nature areas, we invite readers to find out about the value of the area through science education, knowledge and learning. The sports and recreation section also aims to raise awareness and introduce people to the pleasures of the outdoors.
Nature Concerthall is an innovative approach for raising public awareness of the importance of nature conservation. It has been tested and practised for over 10 years in more than 17 municipalities in Latvia. The idea stemmed from musicians wanting to break out of the traditional concert venues and scientists seeking ways to bring knowledge on particular species and habitats to the public. It was clear that standard, project-driven and campaign-driven approaches with traditional seminars, info campaigns and brochures were not enough to really change people's behaviour towards their natural environment in the long term. The musicians, scientists and educators who gather for these events felt that mobilising people's empathy for nature would strengthen their capacities to absorb knowledge and motivate them to act.
Each event consists of three components: i) an interactive exhibit combining graphic panels, object displays and hands-on components open to the public to gain knowledge linked to the selected theme; ii) a discussion between a poet and a scientist on stage to capture the main themes; iii) a 1-hour concert with songs and light/video shows.
Each year, a particular species or habitat is selected as the mascot or hero for the event. This choice defines the location selected, so that audiences can gain firsthand experience of the selected topic. The music is also created each year in line with the species’ habitat, behaviour and evolution. The interactive workshops organised by the scientists and researchers are also dedicated to the particular species or habitat.
The events so far have taken place on or near eight different Natura 2000 sites and focused on different protected habitats, for example Lowland hay meadows, Coniferous forests and Reefs, and species such as the fire-bellied toad, Bombina bombina. Around 10 000 people have attended the multidisciplinary events each year and a survey has indicated encouraging results: 80 % of respondents reported that the event had increased their knowledge about nature and 43 % of them indicated that the event had motivated them to take up concrete actions for the environment. Furthermore, 53 % of the respondents pointed out that they would not attend such an event if it was not combined with the music and video show, thus indicating that this combined approach attracts people who would not traditionally attend nature conservation events.
Nature Concerthall is a collaboration between artists and scientists. It shows that it is possible, through a specially targeted, interactive and multi-disciplinary approach, to attract many thousands of people from different backgrounds, improve their knowledge of nature protection and promote pro-environmental behaviour.
Sintra/Cascais - PTCON0008More
The overall objective of the LIFE BIO+Sintra project was to conduct a pilot experience, reproducible in other locations, with the aim of changing everyday attitudes to decreasing carbon emissions. The objective was to help minimize climate change, therefore safeguarding local habitats and species and reducing biodiversity loss.
This project was implemented in the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, Portugal, an area comprising nearly 946 hectares. It was classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1995, making it the first landscape to receive this classification in Europe. It forms part of the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais and is included in the Natura 2000 SCI of Sintra/Cascais.
The CLS is densely surrounded by urban areas and was receiving almost 1 million visitors per year in 2009. The baseline figures for carbon emissions were around 8 tons of CO2/year resulting from daily activities in the Municipality of Sintra, and 150 000 tons of CO2/year resulting from visits to the CLS.
The target audiences of the project were local and regional schools, businesses and populations, and visitors from the Cultural Landscape of Sintra.
With a learn-feel-do approach, several communication/awareness raising campaigns were implemented, such as workshops, fields visits, the production of documentaries, photography contests, carbon footprint calculators to plan more sustainable visits, interactive tours, encouraging the use of hiking trails, and the implementation of a renewable energies system for use in demonstration sessions for schools and local landowners.
The main achievement was a carbon reduction of 85.688 tons due to changes in everyday attitudes. Additional long term benefits include a saving potential of 145 000 tons of CO2/year.
Laurissilva da Madeira - PTMAD0001More
This project aimed to transmit and deliver information to socioeconomic groups related to Natura 2000 sites in the Madeira archipelago, for better implementation, management and conservation of biodiversity.
It was with this perspective that the SPNM proposed to develop various initiatives to promote and enhance the compatibility between the development of the cultural and socio-economic activities of fishing, agriculture and nature tourism, and the management of natural resources, hazardous areas, habitats and species listed in the annexes of the directives supporting the Natura 2000 network.
In partnership with the SPEA and with the support of several interested parties (stakeholders), specific campaigns were prepared from an ecological perspective, so as to assist and guide the target groups, while ensuring the correct application of the most consistently respectful behaviour during such activities.
A variety of material was distributed among these target groups via information and awareness activities. The aim was to obtain personal commitment from individuals for the conservation and promotion of local biodiversity, in order to improve economic activity and overall quality of life.
Specific objectives: to ensure compatibility and promote traditional economic activities and biodiversity in Natura 2000 sites; to adopt appropriate behaviour for sustainable development; and to increase social involvement in nature conservation.
SCI- PTCON0015 Serras de Aire e Candeeiros - PTCON0015More
The Centro Ciência Viva do Alviela lies in the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park, PTCON0015, and aims to promote and raise awareness about the preservation of this Natura 2000 site’s valuable natural heritage. Because of its location near to one of Portugal’s most important bat nursery roosts, this science centre develops many communication activities to alert people to the importance of preserving species like Myotis blythi, Rhinolophus euryale, R. mehelyi, Myotis bechsteinii, Miniopterus schreibersii, M. escalerai, M. myotis, R. hipposideros, R. ferrumequinum and M. daubentoni, as well as the habitats which they depend on: in this case, caves not open to the public (8310). Public opinion is a key element in the protection of threatened species, and environmental education sessions are extremely important for bat conservation. They increase knowledge about these animals, and help to change attitudes regarding public myths and fears. The communication activities to increase awareness of the bats’ importance in ecosystems are particularly relevant between the months of April and September, with ‘Bat night’: an outdoor activity which allows visitors to observe bats up close in their natural habitat. These activities also include the “Quiroptário”, one of the Centro Ciência Viva do Alviela’s exhibits, and the scientific illustration exhibit “Bats of Portugal”. An activity for students was also developed, entitled “How I miss my sweet home”. This awareness campaign included planning and designing bat boxes, which were then placed in many public buildings. These activities involved 18 000 participants, from all age groups.
The Natura 2000 site FR8201785 ‘Dry grasslands, alluvial plains and wetlands of the island of Miribel Jonage’, with a surface of 2 854 ha, covers the entire Grand Parc Miribel Jonage, a leisure park and recreational area of 2 200 ha. Located near the city of Lyon, this site welcomes huge numbers of visitors (4 million/year) and offers some wonderful natural heritage with 13 different habitats and 13 species of interest to European conservation.
However, among the many visitors to the Grand Parc, only a few are aware that they are also in the middle of a Natura 2000 site, despite several campaigns to inform the general public. For this reason, the steering committee of the Natura 2000 site decided to set up a communication operation that had to be appealing, relevant and reach a wide audience.
As a result of the work carried out by a technical committee, which included some steering committee members, a local nature photographer and a communication firm, 13 large reusable posters in publicity-board style were produced. These posters, promoting Natura 2000 and the site’s natural heritage, aim to be original as well as informative, and also easy to understand.
Since being approved and produced — at the end 2013 — they have frequently appeared on the park’s publicity boards. They immediately catch your eye and grab the public’s attention: according to a recent poll, the number of people now aware that the Grand Parc is also a Natura 2000 site has increased significantly. These posters are now regularly used by nearby community centres and town halls as a support and visual aid for environmental activities, and there is demand for similar related products.
Nice publicity move!
Canaralele Dunarii - ROSCI0022More
The main direct threat to the survival of the rare Danube sturgeon species (five out of the six species native to the Danube are listed as critically endangered) is overfishing for caviar production. Sturgeon fishing is traditionally engrained in local culture and often comes into conflict with the full fishing ban in place in both Bulgaria and Romania.
In order to tackle the overfishing issue, the project WWF Romania, Bulgaria and Austria implemented a joint coordinated initiative, supported by the EU LIFE fund. It covered six Natura 2000 sites and was complemented by mediation efforts with fishing communities, law enforcement agencies, decision makers, sturgeon breeders, and caviar processors and traders in Romania and Bulgaria. Fishermen’s attitudes were surveyed before and after the project, workshops were organised focusing on alternative income sources for fishermen, and training was set up for authorities. In addition, ‘sturgeon advocates’ mediated between authorities and fishermen to increase their trust of one another and ability to work together. Dissemination materials and a Code of Conduct, listing concrete preconditions that contribute to sturgeon protection, were targeted at caviar companies.
Over the course of the project, fishermen’s attitudes changed positively (from reluctance towards acceptance of sturgeon fishing ban to becoming interested in alternative sources of income). The Code of Conduct was signed by eight caviar companies, and 135 representatives of all relevant institutions in Romania and Bulgaria participated in two workshops and received training on how to recognise legal and illegal caviar and distinguish between sturgeon species. The general public was successfully targeted through the webpage in English, Romanian and Bulgarian with 2 000 views/month, and an estimated 4 million people were reached through the media and social media. The project’s targeted approach to addressing all stakeholders, and specifically tailoring communication to their interests and needs, ensured their involvement during and after the project.
Bosco Fontana - IT20B0011More
Invertebrates in general and insects in particular often cause a feeling of repulsion, and people are frequently unaware of their extremely important role in nature. The National Centre of Forest Biodiversity ‘Bosco Fontana’ of the Italian National Forest Service started the first ever Citizen Science project in Italy involving the public in monitoring rare and endangered insects. This project, supported by the EU LIFE fund, is designed for children and adults with the aim of raising their awareness about the importance of preserving old-growth forests and the invertebrates they host. Public participation in ecological studies has recently become a pillar of research on biodiversity and conservation. This Citizen Science initiative aimed at mapping the distribution of invertebrates has the potential to fill gaps left by traditional scientific approaches.
Via a web and smartphone application, citizens are involved in the collection of data on nine rare insect species, the five saproxylic beetle species: Osmoderma eremita, Lucanus cervus, Cerambyx cerdo, Rosalia alpine and Morimus asper/funereus, plus the butterflies Zerynthia polyxena, Parnassius apollo and Lopinga achine, and the grasshopper Saga pedo.
So far, 980 insect records have been collected by 304 citizens. Involvement of the public also helps to disseminate a strong message about the importance of preserving old-growth forests. Communication activities were also carried out at local and national scale, with public seminars, educational projects in schools, social media activities, press releases, radio and TV broadcasts, brochures and booklets and comic strips. The number of people involved increased more than twofold between the first and second year. However, humans are not the only citizens involved in the project. The personal engagement of ‘Osmodog’, the first Italian dog trained to find the hermit beetle Osmoderma eremita using its nose, has proved to have both scientific and communication benefits! The project is taking place in five protected areas included in the Italian Natura 2000 network and managed by the National Forest Service.
Budai Mountains - HUDI20009More
Otok Vis - HR2000942More
The objective of this project was to increase the public’s awareness of farmers' important role in protecting Croatia’s Natura 2000 habitats and species. Most citizens in rural areas are still insufficiently informed about the existence and meaning of Natura 2000. To show the importance of maintaining and protecting Natura 2000 areas in the most vivid way possible, examples of successful coexistence of man and nature were highlighted in this initiative called ‘My little piece of land’. 14 farmers working within different Natura 2000 sites were selected to cover the most diverse and important habitats and species in Croatia. They were presented in an exhibition with related dissemination tools.
Authentic images of harmonious relationships with nature aroused people’s curiosity and resulted in a new understanding among the public. An accompanying brochure presented personal stories of the farmers — with citations in the famers’ dialect — in which they talk about knowledge that has been passed on and their view of the importance of nature in their everyday lives. The exhibition was set up in frequently used public buildings such as libraries, town galleries, hotels and cinema entrances, so that it would catch people’s attention and generate interest among all passersby. This encouraged the public to learn about the positive ways in which the farmers’ work affects nature and all of society.
It has been shown in 15 villages and towns and been seen by 6 000 visitors so far. Some 110 web posts and shows on 8 TV stations and 10 radio stations have since followed. To include the younger generation in the project, interactive educational materials were designed for schools in an effort to encourage pupils to independently envisage and express their thoughts about the importance of farming for nature.
The project was a collaboration between a private company, Suske Consulting, the Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection and the German Association for Landcare, an umbrella organisation representing agriculture, nature conservation and policy. The transnational partnership illustrates how different EU countries can learn from one another’s experiences of communicating Natura 2000 to different audiences.
La Petrosa - IT9310008More
The Natura 2000 site related to this project is "La Petrosa". It belongs entirely to the National Park of Pollino, in the municipality of Castrovillari. Its name is derived from the presence of a stony soil and a steppe-like environment. In this area, it is possible to find Stipa austroitalica (known as fairies' grass) and various species protected by the Habitats Directive. This site is characterized by a spectacular landscape surrounded to the north by the highest peaks in southern Italy (Serra Dolcedorme, 2 267 m) extending towards the Ionian coast and the Plain of Sibari.
The public mind-set does not realise the ecological importance of these dry and stony areas. For this reason, the project has worked to emphasize the ecological importance of environments that are considered to be of little value for man, by showing their high level of biodiversity. Therefore, knowledge, communication and valorization are the elements that characterize the project actions.
The activities take inspiration from the initiative of I.T.G Calvosa High School in Castrovillari, during the LIFE Project competition: Fa.Re.Na.It together for the Natura 2000 Network – "La Mia Terra Vale" (My Land Has Value). A study was conducted dealing with the ideation of a project for the valorization of the area: "The path of the orchids". The CEA – Pollino operators' support has contributed to communication via a conference. This introduced the results and the subsequent intervention plan to promote and communicate gathered data, by publicizing study and research activities besides the preliminary planning of accessible paths and characterization of area.
Kullaberg Nature Reserve / Länsstyrelsen Skåne - SE0430092More
Since 2013, Kullaberg Nature Reserve has been running an environmental education project called ‘Go Green — Think Twice’ which is designed to promote better environmental practices and reduce ecological footprints. In 2014, the project received funding for environmental conservation from the administrative authority of Sweden’s health system. Through this financial support, the project was able to strengthen the environmental education activities using a well developed plan.
The main objective of Go Green — Think Twice is to increase awareness and understanding of nature’s processes and the importance of protecting natural resources, through a systematic programme of environmental education for children, teenagers, teachers at local schools, visitors, special schools, disabled people, refugees and the community in general.
The specific objectives of the project are: 1. To promote human sustainable development through environmental education; 2. To promote the protection of the habitat and conservation value of endangered species and other natural resources; 3. To promote a more positive atmosphere in which to pursue further knowledge of environmental concerns; and 4. To promote the inclusion of vulnerable groups and people who are usually excluded from environmental education activities.
Vallons obscurs de Nice et de Saint Blaise - FR9301569More
Nice Cote d’Azur Metropolis has decided to showcase the remarkable biodiversity of the territory covered by Natura 2000 through a series of photographs showing the flora, fauna and landscapes of the region, giving local inhabitants, school children and visitors an opportunity to appreciate the wealth of its natural heritage.
The displays are composed of photographs and text explanations, and are available free of charge to local authorities, schools and public institutions. The exhibitions can be set up inside buildings, outside, on park railings and in public gardens.
A special exhibition has been created for the “Promenade du Paillon” urban park, an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic — tens of thousands of visitors every day!
The displays showcase the area’s unique biodiversity and reach out to those not necessarily interested in or concerned by Natura 2000, in addition to providing an educational tool for schools. The aim is to raise the profile of Natura 2000 and underline the importance of its role in nature conservation.
Avon Gorge Woodlands - UK0012734More
The Festival of Nature (FoN) is the UK’s biggest free celebration of the natural world, with two days of free interactive activities and live entertainment along Bristol’s Harbourside. The event is run by the Bristol Natural History Consortium (BNHC) and is located close to the Avon Gorge Natura2000 site, with additional community events taking place within the N2K site itself.
The main FoN weekend was established in 2003 and takes place over three days, including a dedicated Schools' Day. The event brings together over 150 local and national environmental organisations to engage and inspire audiences, with the aim of raising awareness about issues in the natural world. The 2012 State of Nature report highlighted that the UK's wildlife has declined more than 60% in the last 30 years. The FoN focusses on preventing further decline of our wildlife through a showcase of educational activities, by raising awareness of the environmental organisations involved, and by giving Festival visitors the opportunity to take action for nature. The Festival aims to be at the forefront of innovative communication techniques, enhancing connections with the natural world to ensure ongoing protection of the environment.
The Festival has expanded since 2013 to include a programme of Community events, the Bath Festival of Nature. In 2016, it will be extending across the region to include the River Avon Festival. The FoN programme ensures that thousands of people across the South West of England are given the opportunity to connect with nature in innovative ways. It will continue to grow and develop, offering a platform for original communication techniques.
Junior Ranger is an initiative supported by Europac Germany, WWF Germany and NNL (Nationalen Naturlandschaften). It is addressed to children and aims at raising awareness of nature.
During the 13th nationwide Junior Ranger Meeting 2015 in Eifel National Park, the organisations held a 2-day film workshop for children and young people. In the workshop, participants produced a film called ‘Natura 2000! What’s that?’ presenting in a simple, yet vivid way the still relatively unknown Natura 2000 sites in the region and offered their own lively explanation about why nature conservation and protection are so important.
The film is addressed to a wide audience, notably including both young and adult visitors to Eifel National Park. It has also already been shown at several conferences and workshops related to the project and was subtitled in English to increase its reach internationally. In the future, it will also be made available in 13 information centres in and around Eifel National Park that attract more than 300 000 visitors per year.
This short film is part of the public relations work of the larger EU funded LIFE+ project ‘Woodland — Water — Wilderness’ run by the Biologische Station Städte Region Aachen e.V. (Biological Station for the Aachen City Region) in partnership with Nationalparkforstamt Eifel (part of the State Forestry Administration). The project focuses on implementing measures that will restore woodlands and water courses in the area, thus providing better protection for threatened species such as the beaver and wild cat.
Carbayera de El Tragamon - ES1200038More
‘La Carbayera del Tragamón’ is an acidophilus-meadow with centenary oak specimens (Quercus robur), some of which are over 500 years old. It is a natural monument with special ecological value, located in the city of Gijón. It is also a unique place, since it is situated inside the ‘Atlantic Botanic Garden’ of Gijón, a romantic garden dating back to the 19th century, which enlarges its protection and preservation area.
The focus is on promoting this location and making visitors aware of its importance as an ecological treasure, so that institutions and residents will want to protect and conserve it.
The persons responsible for this application have performed several activities in connection to this area, such as the ‘Family bird-watching day’ (2013).
‘Nocturnia’ is a different experience, where the public visit the site at sunset and at night, allowing them to appreciate the beauty of the environment, while learning about this ecosystem and its animals by seeing night flights of different owls from all around the world.
The activity has been designed and developed entirely by ‘Grupo Aviar’, a small educational organization that consists of nature experts specialising in birds of prey and raising awareness about them.
During the last three years, tickets sold out for every one of the programmed sessions, attracting more than 8 000 people every year and achieving great media notoriety.
In 2015 ‘Nocturnia’ was named the ‘Best cultural event’ in Spain by the ‘Eventoplus’ jury.
Langholm - Newcastleton Hills - UK9003271More
Conservation today is constrained because we seek only a natural science evidence base, neglecting social science. This makes conservation more divisive than ever before, as organisations rely on partisan memberships to guide policy. The problem is exacerbated by jealous ownership of research, meaning that it rarely gets to those farmers and landowners on the ground who require it to change practices for the benefit of nature.
Local knowledge from those on the ground has a role to play in guiding research in the natural science domain. For example, gamekeepers are adept at understanding predation (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12167/abstract) and its impact on certain waders. Farmers working together can provide better conservation outcomes than some prescriptive, top-down, agri-environment schemes, and involving stakeholders at field level from the start prevents conflicts later down the line.
The book Conflicts in conservation - navigating towards solutions (https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/blog/2015/06/22/book-review-conflicts-in-conservation-navigating-towards-solutions/) plays a key part in my role as a communicator of information between parties who seldom communicate directly. Workshops for these key players would be set up to talk openly on common ground (for example https://www.jottercms.com/showpage.php?id=12411), with the framework well planned by skilled, independent social and ecological scientists.
My job is to use my range of contacts in farming, conservation, forestry etc., and my skill as an independent communicator, to set up these workshops with the aim of helping conservation and rural organisations (often the same ones) to find that common ground.