The call for applications for the second edition of the European Commission’s Natura 2000 Awards is now open.
This pan-European Award recognises excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation achievements, showcasing the added value for local economies, and increasing public awareness of Europe’s valuable natural heritage.
Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 – businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, land owners, educational institutions and individuals – can apply for the award.
The initiative is all about bringing the success of the Natura 2000 network to the public’s attention and to demonstrate its importance in protecting natural heritage throughout Europe. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Brussels on Natura 2000 Day – 21 May 2015.
Natura 2000 works to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, and is the centrepiece of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy.
Winners of the European Natura 2000 Award will be selected from five different categories, showcasing the best success stories in preserving Europe’s stunning nature.
This award recognises achievements that have improved the conservation status of a particular natural 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 or 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.
This award recognises the creation of socio-economic benefits for local stakeholders that have come about as a result of activities linked to a Natura 2000 site or project. Examples of such achievements could include introduction of Natura 2000 label which supported local producers using the natural resources of the site to create a niche market or obtain better prices, nature-based tourism activities which have been developed around a Natura 2000 site, etc.
This award recognises communication achievements that have led to increased awareness about Natura 2000, and which have 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.
This category rewards successful conflict-resolution efforts that have brought together different socio-economic or political forces, or land or resource users, in a way that has benefitted Natura 2000. Applications should focus on an evolution from a polarised situation to an honourable compromise, with mechanisms in place for the various stakeholders to work together.
Cross-border cooperation and networking
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 covered by this category:
- Cross-border collaboration in order to achieve the 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.
- Networking among structures with similar thematic targets (e.g., wetland Natura 2000 sites, managers of Natura 2000 sites) within the same country (or same region for federal countries).
All entries need to be submitted by 21 January 2015.