European Natura 2000 Award
Natura 2000 Network Forest ‘Tullnerfelder Donau-Auen’ - Austria
Tullnerfelder Donau-Auen – AT1216000
Together with nature conservation authorities, 15 forest enterprises and landowners put over 145 ha under protection in the Tullnerfelder Donauauen. Some 22 nature conservation projects were implemented. This collaborative approach should illustrate how gaining landowner acceptance to Natura 2000 projects can ensure the process is free of conflicts. Biosphere Austria (BIOSA) mediated between the landowners and the nature conservation authority of lower Austria. This was the first time all participating landowners were given the opportunity to actively cooperate in the implementation process and to constructively discuss the nature conservation requirements and guidelines. Together, they created shared goals and put forward their own nature conservation ideas.
The main objectives of the project concerned: communication, information, and formulation of measures to effectively carry out local Natura 2000 initiatives. The project aimed to develop new direct communication strategies (network of forest owners) and an organisational model for the implementation of Natura 2000; to create a territorial custom-made development plan, in close cooperation with the stakeholders; to implement solutions in a consensus-oriented manner; and establish a central contact centre based in a forest enterprise in the Natura 2000 area. Funding is provided to landowners to implement measures to conserve forest and animal habitats.
Reconciling conservation and use for nature’s sake - Italy
Stagni della Piana Fiorentina e Pratese - IT5140011
The main goal of the project was to improve the conservation of ‘Species of community interest’ in the Appennine area and the plain surrounding Prato. To achieve this objective, we worked together with fishermen and hunters around the lake to help make the river habitat suitable for the survival of Cottus gobio (bullhead fish) and Austropotamobius pallipes (European crayfish) populations, and to maintain some small wetlands in the plain for the conservation of bird species included in the Birds Directive, and the amphibian Triturus carnifex (Italian crested newt).
We started by including the ‘sites of interest’ in the Natura 2000 network – expanding the SCI/SPA Stagni della Piana Fiorentina e Pratese. Afterwards we built a fish hatchery and two fish passes in the Appennines to sustain species populations found there, integrating in-situ and ex-situ conservation measures. In the lowland, we re-shaped two wetland profiles (with water at various depths used by different groups of birds), built appropriate systems to regulate water levels, reduced the impact caused by invasive alien species and restored wetland shores, creating green buffer-zones to mitigate the surrounding anthropogenic impacts (e.g. noise, lights). Finally, we approved a Natura 2000 management plan for a special protected area and an action plan for the conservation of the bullhead and crayfish in the area.
Ponente in blue - Italy
Fondali Capo Berta-Diano Marina-Capo Mimosa – IT1315670
The Ponente in blue project enabled the boundaries of protection to be expanded in the European sites of community interest, Fondali Capo Berta – Diano Marina – Capo Mimosa, by increasing scientific knowledge of its biodiversity. In particular, the study focused on the coralligenous habitat, an extremely important marine environment but of which there is still little known, especially in the area in question. Therefore, the area has been monitored between depths of 30 m and 60 m by using expert scuba diving biologists, carrying out technical dives and also non-invasive studies, such as taking videos, photos and a general visual census.
This monitoring meant accurate data could be collected about the distribution of the coralligenous habitat and the presence of rare and/or never identified species. Presently the protection boundaries of this site of community importance are the vastest and deepest in the whole Province of Imperia. The videos, photos and visual data have been used to involve a wider public through brochures, an internet site (www.capoberta.it) and photo exhibitions. The survey’s results were presented at the 9th International Temperate Reefs Symposium, in Plymouth (UK).
Capercaillie–a project provides a new landscape database for balancing conservation and recreation - Germany
Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald – DE6946301
The Capercaillie – the largest member of the grouse family – is declining throughout Europe. One of the major populations in Central Europe outside the Alps is located in the Bohemian Forest at the border between Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. The first landscape-wide trans-boundary monitoring of the species was recently carried out, using several novel applications in the framework of a citizen-based science project.
Our approach combined count data, genetic analysis, stress hormone measures and habitat evaluations, and revealed for the first time the clear negative impact that recreation activity is having on the spatial distribution and stress loads of the birds. The data provided a solid basis for developing new tourist trails and habitat refuges for this highly threatened species. Furthermore, it also enabled an evaluation of the impact of natural disturbances. The clear results improved acceptance among local stakeholders of the need for new and altered tourist trails.
A regional partnership between N2K and forestry experts, for Natura 2000 forests and associated species - France
Moyenne Vallée de la Charente, Seugnes et Coran – FR5400472
South Charente local government and forestry partners – Centre for Technical and Economic Study of Forests (CETEF), Regional Centre for Forested Land (CRPF), and the local Forestry Stewardship Council (AMVFSC) – are managing nine neighbouring Natura 2000 sites covering 29 800 ha in the Poitou-Charentes Region. The League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) and the South Charente public administration had little knowledge of local owners of the forests. The foresters, on the other hand, wanted to broaden their environmental activities. They faced reluctant forest landowners who were often misinformed about the Natura 2000 initiatives. Environmental action involving farmers and agricultural actors had proven successful.
The aim of this project was therefore to inform private forest owners about Natura 2000, convince them to adopt ecological forestry practices allowing Natura 2000 objectives to be met, and to sign a Natura 2000 charter to integrate conservation in their forestry management practices. This meant identifying key areas where action was needed and contacting the relevant landowners, bringing environmental and forestry technicians together to convince them to share objectives and sign the charter. In just over two years, the results have been very positive. Some 1 459 people have been informed (including 897 owners), 19 contracts/charters (covering 45 ha) and 144 charters (covering 466 ha) have been agreed, totalling 512 ha of preserved habitats. Joint activities were carried out, best practices were shared, and high-quality exchanges took place to build trust between those involved. All actions were conducted with the knowledge of the authorities of DREAL Poitou-Charentes (Regional management for the environment, planning and housing).
Vaya eco zone: effective promotion of Natura 2000 through stakeholder involvement - Bulgaria
Burgasko ezero – BG0000273
Vaya eco zone is a romantic and remarkable place which offers incredible views of the sunsets over the Burgasko Lake and provides an unforgettable bird watching experience. It attracts local citizens and visitors to Burgas, tourists, fishermen and ornithologists. It has a number of piers and a pontoon connected to the coast. There is a covered berth, available to boat-owners, which allows access not only to inflatable boats but also smaller hard-hull boats. With an area of nearly 2 900 ha Burgas is the largest natural lake in Bulgaria. The area is partly under the main migration route of European birds, ‘Via Pontica’. The lake, in some places, is up to 1.3 m deep. Its salinity is almost at 11%, undergoing considerable seasonal and annual fluctuations. The banks are overgrown with a ‘reed-bed belt’, composed mainly of reed Phragmites australis, reed mace Typha angustifolia and Typha latifolia.
The birds are the highlight of Vaya. Throughout the year, you can observe around 260 bird species in its waters. Many of them are rare species in Bulgaria and Europe; nine are endangered. This makes the Burgas Lake one of the three most significant lake areas for waterfowl along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. You can observe colonies of nesting black-crowned night-herons, pygmy cormorants, Dalmatian pelicans, red-breasted geese, white-headed ducks, common pochards and tufted ducks.
The site Natura 2000 Plopeni Forest: management plan, ways to act and awareness - Romania
Padurea Plopeni – ROSCI0164
The Natura 2000 site Plopeni Forest originally received protected area status in 2007 for a particular habitat type – sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak forest with Carpinion betuli (or common hornbeam, a tree native to western Asia and central, eastern, and southern Europe). In 2010, forested areas belonging to Plopeni were designated as Dacian oak-hornbeam forest habitats. The general objective of this project was to raise awareness and the necessary conditions for the proper management of the ‘Site of community importance’ (SCI) in Plopeni forest.
The project developed and published an SCI forest management plan for Plopeni Prahova County. The overall objective of this management plan was to maintain favourable environmental status and ecosystem services, while promoting sustainable development. The project also sought to increase interest among local authorities and public institutions in cooperating with other social and economic actors in the region to protect the natural heritage of Plopeni Forest. Finally, the project sought to raise awareness of citizens on the need to protect and conserve the natural resources of the protected area.
Personalised support to integrate ecological stakes in town and country planning projects - France
La Nive – FR7200786
The Natura 2000 site of La Nive, located in the Basque Country of south west France, is one of the biggest Natura 2000 river sites in France. With almost 10 000 ha of rivers, riverbanks, and riverside vegetation, it hosts 19 species of Community importance, including the European mink and European otter and many species of migratory fish. The sites also hosts 20 habitats protected by the Habitat Directive, which are mostly related to the river. The site also covers important mountain farming land. With 53 villages, 600 farmers, 16 fish farms and 12 electricity factories, the landscape is shaped by human activity. Many elected representatives, local and farmer people were against Natura 2000, and did not understand the potential benefits.
The Syndicat du basin versant de la Nive, which carried out a study of the site, wanted people to understand – and to benefit from – the project. The Syndicat offered personal support to all project leaders by giving them special maps related to the project, and helped them to integrate environmental conservation into their land management projects. With this kind of personalised support, 12 villages have carried out new plans that take into account the protection of habitats and species, and good working relationships have been established.
Dialogue, conciliation of the common interests of the local actors on the salt marshes of Guérande - France
Marais salants de Guérande, Traicts du Croisic, Dunes de Pen Bron – FR5210090
The salt marshes to the north of Saillé in Guérande (32 ha), has been a ‘Special protection area’ (SPA) since 2002. During nesting and migration periods, this site is home to bird species such as the black-winged avocet and spoonbill that play a fundamental role in the ecosystem. Salt production ended here 40 years ago. Since then only hunting and mosquito control have taken place. Guérande was nominated by the urban organisation Cap Atlantique, which has presided over Natura 2000 on behalf of the French government, to carry out a consultation process leading to a joint project involving all partners involved in the site.
This project’s aim was to restore nesting and feeding zones for the birds. Two working groups were formed. The first consisted of public authorities and hunting associations, the private owners of the salt marshes, salt workers pest control specialists and a biologist. The second group consisted of 18 landowners. Several meetings were organised, which led to a project that addressed the issues and expectations of each stakeholder while clearly being of benefit to the important species and the region as a whole. At the end, local actors acknowledged the added value brought about by the Natura 2000 network by reconciling private, public and ecological interests. Guérande has since been called upon to pursue this kind of action in another area.
AERIUS: balancing economy and ecology in Duinen Ameland - Netherlands
Duinen Ameland – NL3009005
Nitrogen is one of the main obstacles towards achieving conservation objectives in many Dutch Natura 2000 areas. It is therefore often difficult to obtain a permit for new economic activities, and the supposed conflict of interest between economy and nature has led to strong social objections against Natura 2000. This is why the Dutch government is designing a new policy designed to achieve both conservation objectives and economic development. In support of this process, a new and innovative calculation tool called AERIUS was developed. This online application enables, for the first time, the calculation of nitrogen impacts on Natura 2000 habitats; for example, from farm expansions or industrial installations nearby. In one of its first applications, AERIUS was used for Natura 2000 area Duinen Ameland, which is strongly affected by nitrogen from surrounding agriculture.
Three workshops were organised, enabling stakeholders to use AERIUS to explore various scenarios for agriculture and nature in real time. Together, they developed a variant in which a farm could expand by balancing out three farms that were shutting down. AERIUS showed that for this variant, favoured by agriculture, a permit could be issued while achieving a substantial decline in nitrogen deposition on the Natura 2000 area, including the nitrogen sensitive grey dunes and humid dune slacks. This way, AERIUS facilitates decision-making processes with benefits for both ecology and economy, in and around Duinen Ameland and potentially for all Natura 2000 areas.
My environment, my commitment: plan for control and eradication of invasive species - Spain
Estepas Cerealistas de los Ríos Jarama y Henares – ES0000139
This action was the initiative of a group of citizens that the City Council of Esteruelas Camarma was coordinating. The general aim of the project was to improve the habitat of the imperial eagle, under the assumption that small actions can lead to great results. In order to implement the project, the interests of various groups were taken into account. These included two regions (Madrid and Castilla La Mancha), eight local councils (Camarma de Esteruelas, Daganzo, Ribatejada, Serracines, Torrejón del Rey, Valdeavero, Valdeaveruelo and Galápagos), two hunting associations (Ribatejada and Escopegal) and a professional association of park rangers.
In addition, the project brought together a youth association and volunteers. Several activities were developed, including the control and eradication of invasive species (27 American minks and two raccoons were captured), a reduction in hunting days and an awareness-raising campaign for citizens and schoolchildren. The results of the project were then disseminated in specialised forums (including the Biodiversity Network), for replication in other territories. A major success was the installation of an artificial imperial eagle nest.
I am the Park’s neighbour - Poland
Puszcza Kampinoska – PLC140001
‘I am the park’s neighbour’ was a multifaceted educational and informational programme carried out by Kampinos National Park. It aimed to improve the level of ecological awareness among target groups such as school children and teachers, local authorities and tourists, but also the local population. Ignorance of the need for conservation and sustainable development combined with lack of knowledge and general disregard for park regulations has in the past resulted in vandalism and illegal entry and unauthorised development. There have been numerous instances of actions that pose a threat to the natural, cultural and scenic value of the park.
It was established that the most efficient manner of improving the situation would be to tackle attitudes and, as a result, the actions of inhabitants and visitors to the area by raising their ecological awareness and knowledge about Puszcza Kampinoska. The methods implemented in the programme were varied, and depended on the target group. Actions included classes, educational trips, workshops, meetings with park employees, seminars and conferences, supported by a number of publications. The programme was received positively by all target groups.
Fishing logbook on line - France
Rade d’hyères – FR9301613
Established in 2012, the online fishing logbook (https://carnet-peche.espaces-naturels.fr/) is a unique tool in France, and is followed by recreational fishermen. Designed in association with people from the world of recreational fishing and with the Natura 2000 marine approach in mind, this operational tool currently has over 120 recreational fishermen registered in the territory of the National Park of Port-Cros (CPNP).
This innovative web platform enables users to assess the impact of fishing in restricted areas, especially in protected habitats. As such, the impact of anchoring on posidonia seagrass beds (a priority under the Habitats Directive), can thus be better appreciated. Recreational fishers can also analyse how responsible their behaviour is by season, species or type of fishing, thanks to an annual statistics tool. The National Park promotes these results via an annual meeting with recreational fishermen. This innovative tool is intended to be duplicated and shared with other Natura 2000 marine protected areas.
Mount Saint Peter: inspired by the future - Netherlands
Sint Pietersberg & Jekerdal – NL9801025
The Natura 2000 site Sint Pietersberg & Jekerdal (Mount St. Peter) is a partly excavated lime stone hill. With nearby sites Voerstreek in Flanders and Montagne Saint-Pierre in Wallonia, this unique landscape has become a centre of biodiversity. The vegetation is characterised by slopes with alternating grasslands, fields and forests. Vegetation can also be found on rocky areas exposed by mining. Mount Saint Peter is bordered on the east by the concession boundary of a quarry, where mineral extraction in the past has created labyrinths of galleries and caverns of exceptional interest for hibernating bats. The excavation of limestone was started in 1926 on industrial scale by the cement plant ENCI, part of the Heidelberg Cement group.
Nature development following restoration has been so successful that the whole surrounding quarry area was designated as a Natura 2000 site in 2004. By 2018, mining will stop completely. Since 2009, five key stakeholders have worked collaboratively to develop a joint vision for the future of the ENCI area. With nature as the primary focus, the vision integrates in an innovative way the interests of the stakeholders, whereby economic activity will enable the development of nature and spectacular recreation opportunities for the city of Maastricht. As part of this long-term plan, parts of the quarry have already been restored and handed over to the nature conservation organisation Natuurmonumenten.
Sustainable field management wetland biodiversity: ‘Special protected areas’ birds and eco-agriculture – Spain
Campiñas de Sevilla – ES6180017
Osuna is situated in the south west of Spain, just 40 miles from the city of Seville. Just over 24 000 ha of the municipal area’s 60 000 ha belong to the ‘Special protection area’ (SPA) for birds, entitled Campiñas de Sevilla. This territory is part of a Natura 2000 network that also includes a ‘Site of community importance’ (SCI) and two lagoons – Calderon Chica and Ballestera – that form part of the Natural Reservation of Andalusia.
The council of Osuna is developing an agricultural project in an estate named Las Turquillas. This estate is the property of the Spanish Defence Department, and 80 ha have been given to the Council of Osuna for the development of a project of ‘ecological and social agriculture’. The aim is to create rural employment that is compatible with the protection of nature. Specific activities designed to improve the natural environment – such as the creation of living hedges and the extension of vegetation zones around lagoons – are also being carried out. Protection of the territory will also be encouraged through spreading the values of natural heritage. Paths across cattle routes, viewing-points and observatories have been created.
Convergent partnership-based approaches on the Plaine du Forez - France
Plaine du Forez – FR8212024
The Plaine du Forez region is home to a number of environmental schemes. The area, which is one of the five ‘plaques d’étangs’ pond areas in France, is home to five interlocking Natura 2000 sites. These contain two of the five priority environments under the Conseil Général de la Loire’s departmental plan for natural environments: the Étangs de la Loire and the Fleuve Loire. The region also lies on four watersheds (Lignon, Loise-Toranche, Mare-Bonson and Coise), where water management procedures are in operation.
The area faces many different challenges, which is why public stakeholders recently reached agreement to reconcile their various approaches to protect the environment and make public policy easier to understand. This work, which is designed to bring about greater consistency, covers environmental plans, relevant tools and consultation bodies. This partnership-based work is helping to make environmental initiatives more consistent with one another and increases their credibility. It also facilitates greater local involvement from property owners, fishermen, hunters and farmers, as well as nature protection associations which, in spite of sometimes differing goals, all work together to play a crucial part in conservation.
Reconciling interests and perceptions of quarrying in a sensitive area - Ireland
Lough Corrib – IE0000297
McGraths Limestone Cong Ltd. is a quarry of over 60 years standing located in Cong Co. Mayo in the scenic west of Ireland; it has been operated by the McGrath family since 1963. The quarry creates products of local, national and international importance, including specialised calcium carbonate products which are exported throughout Europe for the production of glass. The quarry is surrounded by three Natura 2000 sites, ‘Special areas of conservation’ (SAC) 000297 Lough Corrib, SAC 001774 Lough Carra/Mask Complex and SAC 000474 Ballymaglancy Cave.
The delicate environment surrounding the quarry leaves no margin of error in relation to emissions from the site, particularly discharges (transfers) of groundwater to surface water body; this entails a comprehensive environmental management programme including ongoing monitoring of surface water, groundwater, noise, dust and vibration, in addition to substantial capital expenditure on a water attenuation and settlement system. The investment in the environmental monitoring system and the ongoing monitoring and testing ensures that the good relationship with the local authorities, the fisheries, parks and wildlife services and the local community are safeguarded. McGrath’s Limestone Cong Ltd. believe that if their efforts were replicated by other operators, it would demonstrate that wildlife, their habitats and the local community can be enriched by the existence of a professionally managed and developed indigenous industry.
Protection of natural areas and collaborative management practices of the Camargue beaches (Beauduc) - France
Camargue – FR9301592
Camargue beaches support a number of uses, including seaside tourism, water sports and professional and recreational fishing. These activities sometimes conflict with the objectives of environment protection and the conservation of certain habitats and species. In addition, many activities – including construction, traffic build-up and camping on the beach – have been tolerated for decades. Recognising this, and following the acquisition of sensitive sites by the Conservatoire du Littoral, a number of restoration actions focused on Beauduc beach were launched in 2012.
These actions used regulatory tools (the regulation of certain vehicles, environmental and marine protection), along with continuous consultation with users. A management plan focused on the use of and access to Beauduc beach was implemented during the 2013 season, and was approved by all local actors. Adjustments partially funded under the LIFE + MC-SALT programme have been made to channel site traffic and encourage the return of nesting heritage species, and to protect a seagrass meadow. Follow-up studies have shown the immediate environmental benefits of these actions, which will protect the coast while maintaining economic activities.
Strength through Unity in Touraine Champeigne - France
Champeigne – FR2410022
The Champeigne ‘Special protection area’ (SPA) is a farmed limestone plateau with rich soil and outcrops of rock and dry calcareous grassland, divided into two separated areas by wet valleys. Species that need protecting include farmland birds, included one of the last remaining populations of migratory little bustards in Europe. A conflict arose in 2006 between farmers and hunters, who viewed conservation as an external constraint. A consultation was carried out, which showed the long term impact of measures dedicated to protecting bustards.
An innovative ‘local governance’ authority composed of eight members including farmers, hunters, environmentalists and a representative of the State, were selected to decide on measures to implement. Being local and flexible enabled this authority to make fast and relevant decisions, which promoted efficiency and helped to motivate farmers. Almost 10% of the SPA is currently dedicated to agri-environmental measures, and populations of little bustards are now stable. The consultation procedure proved to be a reliable and successful means of preventing conflict.
A spatial optimisation tool to support implementation of conservation objectives in Flanders - Belgium
Kalmthoutse Heide – BE2100015
The Flemish government has set up a participatory process designed to formulate conservation targets for ‘Special areas of conservation’ (SACs). This includes the realisation of an extra 41 000 to 55 000 ha of habitats, in addition to areas currently present. In a densely populated, intensively farmed and highly industrialised region, spatial allocation of extra habitat is subject to complex negotiations and conflicts between different stakeholders. In order to allocate extra habitats in an ecologically and socio-economically sound way, the project approached the allocation as an optimisation problem.
Potential solutions with a spatial, high-resolution land use model were explored. All valid allocations had to comply to a range of boundary conditions, implemented to conform with the legal requirements of the Habitats Directive. This led to an optimal solution for the allocation of 46 000 ha of habitats over all SACs. This was warmly welcomed by all stakeholders, as it enabled the delivery of a globally optimal solution in a transparent and participatory manner. This approach, in which a participatory process is supported by custom-made, science-based decision-supporting tools, has proven to be highly innovative and effective, and unique within the Natura 2000 network in Flanders.
Maintain economic viability while preserving nature and by training the next generation - Belgium
Bassin inférieur de l’Ourthe orientale – BE34024B0
Both humans and animals interact on this site, which possesses typical characteristics of our region. Unknowingly and unintentionally however, human activity can harm indigenous species. This project sought to reconcile the needs of human civilisation with nature, by providing youth organisations with useful information. After an audit of the premises, a compromise that balanced nature and conservation with economic needs was drafted. The result is that after three years, nature and human activity, such as youth camps, coexist in total harmony.
The LIFE+ 3WATER Project: a model for sustainable cooperation - Belgium
Vijvercomplex Van Midden Limburg – BE2219312
The EU-funded LIFE+ 3WATER project, located in the heart of the Natura 2000 Vijvergebied van Midden Limburg site, represents an innovative and open partnership between local landowners, nature organisations and cities, as well as the province and other stakeholders. Key target species were the bittern (a bird that belongs to the heron family) and the tree frog. Partners joined together in a ‘3E’ approach, balancing Economy, Ecology and Education to ensure that the project area remains a viable place for nature, business and tourism well into the future. The actions taken were fully in line with the 3E approach.
These included a massive restoration of the traditional open landscape, the restoration of ponds, building new reed islands for the bittern to keep away predators, new ponds and open landscapes designed specifically for the tree frog as well as the restoration of traditional wet and dry heather in the area. To ensure public knowledge about the project, a documentary is being produced, as well as an education package for local schoolchildren. All project sites have been enhanced with signs and notices concerning Natura 2000 and the key species, while many open and visitors’ days have been organised, to ensure that the cooperative model established is spread as far as possible. The 3WATER project has created a dramatic shift towards positive attitudes and cooperation in the area, and will continue to do so.
Spotted souslik (Spermophilus suslicus): resident of the SAC Swidnik - Poland
Świdnik – PLH060021
The speckled ground squirrel or spotted souslik (Spermophilus suslicus) is a rare and endangered species of mammal that inhabits an area of eastern Europe where only a few colonies are left. One of these is located on the grassy plain of the airport in Świdnik near Lublin. Ecological organisations have protested against the expansion of an airport into souslik habitat. To reconcile the interests of all parties, the Foundation for the Protection of the Spotted Souslik was formed in 2008. A Letter of Intent on the establishment of the Foundation was signed by many local actors, including Lublin Airport, Lubelskie Voivodeship, Lublin Municipality, Świdnik Municipality, PZL Świdnik, Świdnik Flying Club and the Association of Świdnik Airport.
The Foundation’s aim is to protect wildlife, with particular emphasis on the spotted souslik, by ensuring that appropriate measures for the protection of this mammal and its habitat are taken into account. At the same time, the Foundation aims to support Lublin Airport in administering the ‘Special area of conservation (SAC) in Świdnik and foster partnerships between authorities and NGOs. The end result was the successful opening of Lublin Airport on 17 December 2012, without any threat to the local souslik population.
Fließer Sonnenhänge: protection and economic benefit through adaptive management - Austria
Fließer Sonnenhänge – AT3313000
The Kaunergrat Nature Park aims to be a home to people who appreciate a pristine living environment and want to preserve the landscape in its diversity and individuality. The Nature Park is supported by the population of the nine member municipalities and administered by an association. Besides the nine founding municipalities, the three tourist boards of the region as well as representatives of farmers, land owners and the Tirolean provincial government are on the management board. It is our joint objective to sustainably promote the special qualities of the region around the Kaunergrat mountain range to the advantage of the people living there.
Our project in the Fließer Sonnenhänge Natura 2000 site is characterised by a broad participatory approach, which aims to handle the various interests of the involved stakeholders (landowners, farmers, nature protection bodies, government). Through a steering board – installed in 2008 – major topics are discussed in a cooperative way. Our main achievements since running this project include the reestablishment of three pastures within the Natura 2000 site (which involved 11 000 m of fences and 16 000 hours of work!), a variety of actions in the field of education and knowledge transfer and the monitoring of vegetation and key species. Public relation activities have also been carried out with the local media, along with actions to boost the regional economy, such as tourist proposals and direct marketing.
Participatory management planning as a tool for reconciliation - Hungary
Jászság – HUHN10005
Agricultural intensification can have a negative impact on the proliferation and quality of Natura 2000 habitats and species. In the Jászság ‘Special protection area’ (SPA), birds of prey, especially the Imperial Eagle and its prey, are seriously threatened by the loss and conversions of habitats. Moreover, a high number of imperial eagles have been poisoned – either accidentally or deliberately – in the last few years. There are three main conflicting interests. Farmers often want to intensify their agricultural activities in order to maximise production, and hence their income from the land.
The aim of nature conservationists and hunters is to develop and restore habitats for bird and small game species. However, the hunters often assume a relationship between the decline in small game population and the population rise of birds of prey species, causing economic difficulties for them. A participatory management planning was initiated to maintain the Natura 2000 values of the area and to find solutions for these conflicting interests. Some 70 stakeholders from seven interest groups were involved into the multilevel participatory process. The result of this cooperation is a Natura 2000 management plan for the area, based on a compromise between the stakeholders. A feasibility study for a new High Nature Value Area was also drafted, which would give farmers the opportunity to receive agri-environmental payments for the development and restoration of habitat for protected and small game species.
The Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve – United Kingdom
Lyme Bay and Torbay – UK0030372
Lyme Bay, a world heritage site and habitat for globally significant flora and fauna, is also home to an active fishing community and supports significant tourism. Despite implementation of the Lyme Bay & Torbay ‘Special area of conservation’ (SAC) in 2008, banning destructive mobile fishing gear in a 60 square mile zone, pot and line fishing increased to such a degree that it led to unsustainable fishing and damage to the protected reef. Not only did this threaten the habitat but also had dramatic implications for the future of the region’s fishing community and local economy. In an attempt to solve the problem, in 2011, the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) convened informal meetings with fishermen, regulators and conservationists.
This was a considerable achievement in itself as these meetings brought together traditionally “warring” parties around the same table and, as a result, they collectively formed a new body, the Lyme Bay Working Group. Since then BLUE has been working with local fishermen to enable them to create a sustainable and profitable future for their businesses. In the long-term, fishermen will be able to catch more with less effort and retain access to their traditional fishing ground. This revolutionary model of self-management will financially benefit and motivate fishing communities to fish in more sustainable ways. This project has been hailed as a “world-first” given its radical collaborative approach involving fishermen in stock management and research.
Creating a favourable social environment for bear conservation in cantabrian Natura 2000 sites - Spain
Fuentes del Narcea Degaña e Ibias – ES1200056
Human activities can have an appreciable influence on the landscape and biodiversity in most Natura 2000 sites in the Cantabrian Mountains. This means that the successful conservation of bears, a key umbrella species in these sites, requires a favourable social environment and the cooperation of stakeholders. Achieving this has been one of the priorities of the Brown Bear Foundation (FOP) since its creation. In order to reduce poaching with illegal snares but avoid indirectly impacting hunting activities, FOP signed formal agreements with hunting associations and federations, involving more than 4 500 hunters. It also put into practice regular cooperation between FOP Bear Patrols and rangers and hunters, who worked together against poaching, cleared vegetation in some hunting areas and monitored bears.
To prevent illegal snares and conflicts, FOP donated electric fences to hunters for the protection of pastures against wild boars. Most of these actions were discussed in meetings or training sessions, and have since been published in brochures or handbooks. FOP has also developed actions with beekeepers, cattle-breeders, tourist business owners and local inhabitants. As a result of these actions and awareness-raising work, hunters and local communities are proud to live amongst bears, and the number of bear deaths through human actions have been reduced in such a way that bear populations are now recovering.
Mitigation of conflicts on Natura 2000 sites through public participation - Poland
Mrowle Łąki – PLH180043
The Centre for Systems Solutions Association has been actively engaged in increasing public participation in the effective management of Natura 2000 sites. For example, three projects were conducted between October 2009 and December 2013 in southern and eastern Poland, aimed at defining key recommendations for effective Natura 2000 site management. A number of sites were identified as case studies for a bottom-up participatory management approach. During workshop sessions, the communication of stakeholder preferences was achieved, while a project on participatory development was also successfully conducted.
Next, a complex participatory process was performed at a site where a conflict between authorities and the local community hindered the development of a management plan. Local community problems were discussed publicly at four meetings and during a field trip. As a result of these efforts, a conflict regarding flood protection options was resolved, and the proposed management plan gained wide acceptance. Similar processes at other sites have also helped to achieve mutual understanding and cooperation in nature protection actions.
Project LIFE ‘Safe islands for seabirds’ - Portugal
Costa e Caldeirão-Ilha do Corvo – PTZPE0020
The ‘Safe islands for seabirds’ LIFE project was a pioneering scheme that sought to conserve seabird colonies through habitat restoration and the eradication of invasive alien species. The project had, and has, an important role in reconciling interests and perceptions of the Corvo island community. The project consisted of 35 conservation and communication actions, which contributed to change and greater environmental awareness on the island. The project also promoted Corvo regionally, nationally and internationally as a sustainable economy.
The project improved local infrastructures and equipment, which will have a long lasting effect. Two biological reserves were created to support breeding seabirds. A greenhouse was built in the local school to produce native plants and work as a teaching tool to inform pupils about the importance of native flora. Teaching material was also produced to support environmental awareness among the population and visitors, while a new tourist trail was created to allow everyone to discover one of the biological reserves. The actions undertaken positively influenced the environmental services produced on Corvo (support of local biodiversity, scientific, educational and tourism values, preservation of the natural landscape and natural water supply), with benefits for the local population.
Thanet Coast ‘Footprints in the sand’ partnership project – United Kingdom
Thanet Coast – UK0013107
‘Footprints in the Sand’ (FITS) was a partnership project, coordinated by the Thanet Coast Project (TCP), to help local people in north east Kent who don’t normally access, or get to experience, the internationally important Natura 2000 coastline. Beaches include the longest continuous stretch of coastal chalk (featuring reefs, caves and cliffs) in the UK. The FITS project encouraged local people that may have barriers to access, such as those from deprived communities, the very young or old, those from different ethnic backgrounds or those with disabilities. The TCP (through Thanet Council) worked with a range of local partner organisations to run specific activities with local groups to engage and encourage local people to join in.
The aim was to help raise awareness and knowledge of the Natura 2000 sites on the Thanet Coast, encourage health benefits and to develop new skills. The main project outcomes included local communities encouraged to access and enjoy the Thanet Coast, local people with pride and inspiration for their coastal heritage and increased knowledge and awareness of local natural features. Local people were trained to preserve and interpret Thanet’s coast, and a new coastal community facility area was developed. The project benefitted from Natural England and Big Lottery funding.
Economics and protection: reconciling the interests of farms and the protection of large predators - Poland
Bieszczady – PLC180001
The wolf, bear and lynx populations in the Subcarpathian region are the most important in Poland. These animals are protected within Natura 2000 sites including Bieszczady, Ostoja Jaśliska, Ostoja Góry Słonne and Ostoja Przemyska. While the protection of these species is crucial to their existence in Poland, it is also controversial, especially among farmers and beekeepers. In order to successfully protect these predators and to counteract conflicts with farmers, our institution has developed a system of cooperation. Polish law provides compensation for damage caused by these animals on farms. We have improved this system by introducing elements of education and reducing bureaucracy to a minimum.
Personal contact between employees of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Rzeszów and those experiencing damage or losses caused by these protected animals has created working partnerships during damage assessments, where information regarding the biology and ecology of these animals and on safeguarding sheep-runs etc. can be provided. It is a much more efficient system than other training systems, because it is carried out directly with those affected. The system enables direct action to be taken to better safeguard livestock and property.
Management of Lake Lesser Prespa through a multi-stakeholder participation process - Greece
Ethnikos drymos prespon – GR1340001
This application concerns an ongoing multi-stakeholder wetland management process for Lesser Prespa Lake in Prespa National Park, Greece. The core of this process is a Wetland Management Committee (WMC) that has gradually led to local stakeholders taking full responsibility for management activities since 2012. The WMC was established by the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) as a means of sustaining the outcomes of a LIFE-Nature project, which initiated integrated wetland management in the area. Between 2009 and 2013, with the support and the initiatives of the SPP and the Prespa National Park Management Body (PNPMB), this committee has gradually evolved and expanded its membership.
Today it represents a unique multi-participatory wetland management process; the first of its kind in Greece and often cited as a successful model. In addition to its innovative character, another very important aspect is that local inhabitants undertake most of the management programme, implementing activities such as reedbed cutting and grazing, which are of benefit to both nature and the local economy. This approach ensures the long-term continuation of the process and consequently the sustainable management of Lesser Prespa Lake. The applicants have both played a leading role in this process: the SPP as the founding member and active member of the WMC and the PNPMB as the designated authority for wetland management in Prespa.
Project for the recovery of indigenous crayfish in Natura 2000 areas of Eastern pre Pyrenees – Spain
Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa – ES5120004
Austropotamobius pallipes is an endangered European freshwater crayfish that is at threat of extinction. After evaluating the state of the population, it was felt that intervention was needed in order to ensure recovery. In 2004, a strategic plan was set up with two main implementation actions. The first involved adapting fish farming facilities originally designed for other fish to suit crayfish.
The second involved the coordination of a network of organisations, some of them initially opposed to the project, in order to better understand various interests and reach a common goal: the recovery of the species and the improvement of habitats. Thanks to the production in captivity of the indigenous crayfish, the natural population has been reinforced. In addition, a strong relationship between organisations and users has been established in the river basin for monitoring populations and identifying and controlling problems affecting habitats.
Kalochori lagoon - Greece
Delta Axiou – Loudia – Aliakmona – Alyki Kitrous – GR1220010
Kalochori village is 8 km south-west from the city of Thessaloniki, the second largest in Greece. Kalochori lagoon is a ‘Special protection area’ included in the area ‘Delta Axiou – Loudia – Aliakmona – Alyki Kitrous’ (GR1220010) of the Natura 2000 network. Kalochori village was inhabited after 1922. The lagoon is a new and ‘artificial’ wetland created gradually since the mid-1960s, when successive subsidence required the construction of embankments to protect the village. The coastal embankment led to the creation of a shallow lagoon, where the surface water is trapped and seawater penetrates.
From 2006 to 2009, the Kalochori lagoon became the number one illegal dumping site in Thessaloniki. In 2009, in the first strategic plan of the management authority, entitled ‘Proposed strategic plan for maintaining favourable conservation status of Natura 2000 areas in the Axios Delta in Greece (2009-2013)’, the importance of the Kalochori area was recognised and the lagoon was marked as one of the conservation targets in order to protect it from illegal dumping. Due to the actions taken in the years that followed, dumping stopped and the management authority, in 2013, excluded Kalochori lagoon from the biological targets of the new strategic plan.
The first complex long-term contract in the Czech Republic concerning Natura 2000 management – Czech Republic
Podtrosecká údolí – CZ0514113
The Nature Conservation Agency (NCA) of the Czech Republic, together with the Association of Municipal and Private Forest Owners (SVOL) in the Czech Republic, the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO), owners of the Kinský dal Borgo estate and relevant regional authorities established a working group with the objective of finding an ideal stakeholder consultation process. Eight ‘Special areas of conservation’ (SACs) were the subject of the process and conservation measures were agreed upon for all of them.
The areas where the NCA is the single nature conservation authority were subsequently covered by a complex long-term contract. It is an important milestone in nature conservation and landscape protection in the country: the document defines which activities shall be carried out voluntarily, which ones are obligatory and which will be avoided. The contract also specifies the conditions concerning the compensation for damages and loss of income caused by nature conservation provisions, with concrete formulas and figures. The stakeholder consultation and the resulting contract are considered a model process that is well worth replicating.
The quarry, an opportunity for conservation and creating a natural environment – France
Boucles de la Seine Amont d’Amfreville à Gaillon – FR2300126
Extraction activities could be one of the more unique industrial activities that create opportunities for preserving biodiversity. If a wide consultation takes place between different stakeholders, quarries could indeed help to increase biodiversity. The case of Gaillon’s quarry, located within two Natura 2000 areas in Normandy, is a perfect example. The results of the Gaillon consultation were persuasive thanks to the work carried out with two local NGOs to foster the preservation and development of habitats of community interest. These habitats were successfully ‘transplanted’ using ecological engineering. Indeed, the floral diversity and fauna in the new location are similar or better than the original habitats. Many evaluation and management tools have been used on this quarry.
A key document, the biodiversity management plan, helped to drive the global approach used to manage the biodiversity. As a real management system, it integrated different objectives, such as improving knowledge of local biodiversity and awareness-raising among local actors of related developments. This transverse approach stimulated the involvement of industry in the circular economy and encouraged sustainable resource management.
When hunting overlaps conservation : raptors community interest - France
Gorges du Tarn et de la Jonte - FR9110105
In the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the Natura 2000 ecological network has face challenges. The Languedoc-Roussillon region has vast (33%) areas dedicated to Natura 2000. Poor communication and a lack of strategy for implementing Natura 2000 policy at the local level led to misunderstanding, reluctance, and in some cases even tension. So in 2009, the Regional Federation of Hunters (Fédération Régionale des Chasseurs) ran a project entitled ‘ChasNat 2000: Awareness-raising of the Natura 2000 Network Among Hunters’, under the framework of the Sustainable Hunting Initiative – a communication project launched by the European Commission.
ChasNat2000 is an active example of this project. Hunters can help to test an innovative method of ‘rural participatory diagnosis’, where working groups discussing the Natura 2000 management plans for hunting activities encourage hunters to actively contribute. Today, the hunters’ organisational bodies are involved in virtually all Natura 2000 areas in the region and particularly in the ‘Special protection areas’ (SPA) designated for birds of prey. A positive outcome of this, for example, is that the Federation of Hunters of Lozère now runs a Natura 2000 SPA, ‘Gorge du tarn et de la Jonte’, created to conserve 25 species of birds of community interest (including Gyps fulvus, Aegypius monachus and Nephron percnopterus – all types of vulture).