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The 2022 edition of the European Natura 2000 Award

Applications for the 2022 edition will be open from 21 May 2021 until 30 September 2021, 17.00 CET.

If you are interested in participating in the Natura 2000 Award, scroll down for more information, inspiration, and insights from previous winners about the benefits of the Award.

To be kept informed about the Award, please subscribe to the

2022 edition application process

Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 – businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, landowners, educational institutions or individuals – can apply for the award.

All eligible applications are assessed by an independent team of evaluators, resulting in a list of finalists. A high-level Jury decides on the five winners, one for each category. From the finalists, the public will also choose their winner through a public vote: the European Citizens’ Award. More information about the selection and evaluation process can be found here.

All finalists are invited to the Award Ceremony in Brussels at which the winners will be announced, and the six winners will receive a trophy and a small financial prize. Winners will also receive financial support to organise a promotional event in their country to promote their win and to raise awareness about their achievements on a local and national level. 

2022 edition timeframe

Launch of 2022 Call for applications

21 May 2021

Deadline for 2022 submissions

30 September 2021

Applicants notified of the evaluation results / finalists announced

February / March 2022

Public vote for the Citizens' Award

March – April 2022

Award Ceremony / winners announced

May 2022

What does the Award reward?

The Natura 2000 Award recognises excellent management of Natura 2000 sites. Winners of the European Natura 2000 Award are selected from five different categories, which have been updated for the 2022 edition to allow a greater focus on marine and coastal issues. These categories showcase the best success stories in preserving Europe’s stunning nature:

Conservation on land

This award recognises achievements that have improved the conservation status of a particular terrestrial habitat type and / or species. Targeted habitat types or species must be in the Habitats Directive Annex I or II or Birds Directive Annex I or be a regularly occurring migratory bird. This means that species only listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, for instance, cannot be the target and such applications would not be eligible.

Applications presenting successes in the creation of improved connections and corridors between sites in the Natura 2000 network are welcome, as they respond to an important concern for the implementation of Natura 2000.

Marine conservation

This award recognises achievements that have improved the conservation status of a particular marine or coastal habitat type and / or marine or coastal species. Targeted habitat types or species must be in the Habitats Directive Annex I or II or Birds Directive Annex I, or be a regularly occurring migratory bird. This means that species only listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, for instance, cannot be the target and such applications would not be eligible.

Applications presenting successes in the creation of improved connections and corridors between sites in the Natura 2000 network are welcome, as they respond to an important concern for the implementation of Natura 2000.

Communication

This award recognises communication achievements that led to increased awareness about Natura 2000, and which brought lasting positive changes in attitudes or behaviour towards the network.

Applications to this category must be targeted at specific Natura 2000 sites. If an application addresses multiple sites or the whole Natura 2000 network by targeting a whole interest group or the general public, it must nevertheless show a tangible positive impact on at least one Natura 2000 site.

Socio-economic benefits

This award recognises:

  • The creation of socio-economic benefits for local stakeholders resulting from activities linked to a Natura 2000 site such as a Natura 2000 label, nature-based tourism activities, increased revenue for specific stakeholder groups, or creation of new jobs, etc.; and / or
  • Conflict resolution efforts that have brought together different stakeholders in a way that has benefitted Natura 2000, focusing on an evolution from a polarised situation to an honourable compromise, with mechanisms in place for the various stakeholders to work together.

The stakeholder groups targeted may be, for example, land or resource users, local communities, economic actors, or non-traditional actors (military, church, private companies, etc.).

Cross-border cooperation

This category concerns the establishment of effective partnerships between stakeholders involved in the management / conservation of Natura 2000 sites that are aimed at resolving Natura 2000 issues more constructively than would have been the case if the partners had operated individually.

Two types of partnerships are concerned by this category:

  1. Cross-border collaboration in order to achieve better conservation of a species / habitat type whose geographic distribution requires such an approach. Cross-border cooperation may be between countries or self-governing regions in a federal state (such as Germany, Belgium, Austria, Spain). It can also include the transfer of knowledge / best practice in the explicit framework of a biogeographic region context.
  2. Networking among structures with similar thematic targets (e.g., wetland Natura 2000 sites, managers of Natura 2000 sites, partners working on a same species or group of species such as carnivores, reptiles, etc.) within the same country (or same region for federal countries).

Citizens’ Award

The Citizens’ Award is not a category as such, but all finalists of the five above-mentioned categories will automatically take part in this competition, decided through a public vote.

Why apply for a Natura 2000 Award?

Applying for the Natura 2000 Award has multiple benefits, including the promotion of your work to a wide audience, as well as a chance to win one of the six Natura 2000 Awards. We asked three past winners to tell us what they see as the biggest advantages.

1. Recognition of their work

A key incentive for applying is the professional recognition of your efforts, as well as the international visibility you will gain from taking part in this high-profile competition. Your efforts in helping protect Europe’s most valuable species and habitats will become better known to a wider audience and showcasing your success story will also provide inspiration for others who manage and promote Natura 2000 sites.

Winning the Natura 2000 Award has had a great impact on the image and status of Callisto. Winning the Award is a great recognition for all the time, work and actions in Kastoria and has had a great impact both on the external image of Callisto and for all of our experts. This recognition is also a great supporting argument for fundraising and asking for further support from Callisto’s friends and supporters.”

Environmental Organization for Wildlife and Nature Callisto, Greece, 2018 Reconciling interests and perceptions Award Winner

The winners of the 2018 Reconciling Interests and perceptions Award

  1. Media attention and visibility

Applicants of all eligible applications will have their work promoted on the Natura 2000 Award website. Have a look here at the applications for the 2020 Award as well as the results of previous editions.

In addition, all finalists are invited to attend the Award Ceremony in Brussels. This provides an exciting opportunity to meet high level Commission representatives, experts from various organisations working on Natura 2000, representatives of other interested stakeholders and organisations, and a unique networking opportunity with other finalists and winners. See here some photos of the 2020 Ceremony, which was held under a period of social distancing restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

“Both the press release about winning the Award and the press conference at the local event resulted in a very high level of press coverage (100+ media reports), making it one of the most significant topics in the field of nature conservation in Hungary that year. (…) Preparing the application and promoting it of course created some extra work for our staff, but the huge media coverage and attention among our stakeholder network we received for our success absolutely made up for it.”

Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society – MME (BirdLife Hungary), 2018 Conservation Award Winner

The winners of the 2018 Conservation Award

  1. Benefits for ongoing activities:

The lead partner will receive a small financial contribution to help support their future conservation efforts.

During this school year, thanks to the prize money, we were able to increase the number of students involved in our activities to 600, compared to 500 the previous year. Additionally, we will be able to purchase materials such as waterproof boots, raincoats, collecting networks, biotic elements sampling and bibliography support, including field guides to support field activities.”

Viana do Castelo Environmental Monitoring and Interpretation Center (CMIA), School of Nature, Portugal, 2018 Citizens’ Award Winner

The winners of the 2018 Citizens’ Award

And, of course, if you win one of the six Awards, all lead applicants receive an attractive, specially designed trophy, all partners receive a certificate, and the Commission helps in the organisation of local promotional events in the winners' countries which representatives of the European Commission will attend.

So, all in all, it is a big opportunity for you to get the recognition you deserve! And you can find all the support you need on this site and from the Secretariat.