On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Natura 2000 network, the European Commission has today announced the finalists for the sixth edition of the Natura 2000 Award. Twenty-one finalists have been shortlisted out of 40 applications. The finalists come from thirteen EU Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain and include several cross-border initiatives involving partners from Cyprus and Croatia. Online voting for the Citizens’ Award is now open and closes on 27 April 2022
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said:
Protecting and restoring the EU’s natural heritage and biodiversity is crucial to adapt to a changing world, and to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. For the last 30 years, the success of the EU Natura 2000 network is thanks to the tireless efforts of thousands of conservation professionals, volunteers and stakeholders working to protect, restore and promote nature. The achievements of this edition’ finalists show the importance of nature and the Natura 2000 network in ensuring a resilient future for us, and the planet.
The Natura 2000 Awards recognise conservation success stories across the EU and raise awareness about one of the EU outstanding achievements – the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. The aim of the Natura 2000 network is to ensure the long-term survival of our most valuable and threatened species and habitats. The good management of the EU Natura 2000 network of protected areas is crucial to achieve the ambitious targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 – namely, to set biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, with benefits for people, the climate and the planet.
The finalists have been shortlisted in five categories: Cross-border cooperation, Socio-economic benefits, Communication, Marine conservation and Conservation on land. A high-level jury will now assess the finalists and choose the five winners. The Citizens’ Award, the sixth award, rewards the public’s favourite finalist. The winners of all six Awards will be announced during the Award Ceremony on 18 May 2022.
About the Natura 2000 Award 2022
The Natura 2000 Award, now in its sixth edition, recognizes leading nature conservation achievements connected to the EU Natura 2000 network of protected areas. A recent public opinion survey showed that 96% of Europeans agree that we have a responsibility to look after nature, although only 30% had heard of the Natura 2000 network. The Natura 2000 Award helps raise awareness about Natura 2000, the work carried out by different organisations and individuals to safeguard these vital natural assets, and the health, cultural, societal and economic benefits the network provides to us all.
About Natura 2000
Natura 2000 is the European Union network of protected areas. It is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world with about 27 000 terrestrial and marine sites, covering more than 18% of EU land areas and about 9% of the surrounding seas. It consists of an enormous variety of different sites across the continent, aiming to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitat types, safeguarding them for future generations. It also provides a wide range of products and ecosystem services beneficial to society and the economy. For instance it helps mitigating and adapting to climate change by storing 35 billion tonnes CO2 and contributes to food security by protecting and restoring habitats for pollinators.
The Natura 2000 network is based on two pioneering pieces of EU legislation – the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive – and plays an essential role in halting biodiversity loss in the EU. While the network does include strictly protected nature reserves, the approach to conservation and sustainable use is much wider in the rest of Natura 2000, largely centred on people working with nature. The emphasis is on ensuring that management is sustainable, both ecologically and economically. Moreover, in the EU, around 4.4 million jobs are directly dependent on healthy ecosystems, and a significant proportion of these are situated within Natura 2000 sites. The investment needs of the network are expected to support as many as 500 000 additional jobs.
- Publication date
- 21 March 2022
- Directorate-General for Environment