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European Natura 2000 Citizens’ Award

The European Natura 2000 Citizens’ Award is a high-profile recognition of the public’s favourite finalist. It is awarded in addition to the five category winners.

During the public voting period, eveyone can vote online for their favourite contender for the Citizens’ Award. The finalist receiving the most votes is rewarded with the “European Citizens’ Award”.  Nearly 45,000 votes were cast during the 2020 Award - an amazing achievement that shows just how much the European public cares about Natura 2000.

European Citizens’ Award winners are:

2020: Partnership for protection of Bulgarian old-growth forests in Natura 2000.  The project helped to reconcile conflicting interests over the designation of forest-related Natura 2000 sites. The process resulted in an additional 109 300 ha of old growth forests being designated for protection and excluded from harvesting.

2018: School of Nature, Portugal.  This educational project in the municipality of Viana do Castelo in Northern Portugal brings school communities, and thus local communities, closer to their unique natural heritage thanks to field activities and teachers’ trainings.

2016: Collaboration between public and private bodies saves the Iberian lynx from extinction in Spain. This project involved establishing stewardship agreements and voluntary contracts with private owners, managers and hunting clubs in six Natura 2000 sites, in order to reduce the hunting pressure on rabbits and secure lynx-friendly land management across more than 95,000 ha.

2015Natura 2000 Day. This high profile and innovative project created a "European Natura 2000 Day" as part of a LIFE+ project connecting people with biodiversity to showcase Natura 2000 in action. Since 2013, it has also reached out to an estimated 3 million social network accounts with photographs of its “butterfly hands” gesture, which is dedicated to the conservation of a particular Natura 2000 site in Europe each year. The European Natura 2000 Day was officially adopted by the EU in 2017.