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Application process

Natura 2000 Award

The application phase for the 2024 edition is open! Find out below how and why you should apply, and get the recognition you deserve!

The deadline for applications phase for the 2024 edition has been extended! Applications are now open until 12 October 2023, 23:59 CET.

How to apply

Click on the Apply now! link above. Please enter the requested information: name of the contact person of the applicant, a frequently checked email address, country where the applicant is based, and the language in which you would like to complete your application. Applications can be submitted in any of the official EU languages, with the exception of Gaelic and Maltese. Once selected, you cannot change the language, so please choose carefully.

Did you know? You can change the language of this page by clicking on the 🌐 icon at the top of this page.

Once you submit the registration form, you will be sent a confirmation email. Simply click on the link in the email to access your application form and begin filling it in.

Why apply?

The Natura 2000 network protects a wide array of threatened habitats and species across the European Union. The people and organisations protecting and managing the network deserve to be recognised for their efforts. The Natura 2000 Award was launched with this aim: to celebrate these Natura 2000 heroes and bring them into the spotlight. 

Applying for the Natura 2000 Award has multiple benefits.  

All applicants, regardless of whether they win an award or not, benefit from having their work promoted on the Award website and to a wide audience across Europe.  

Finalists’ achievements will be promoted more extensively via European Commission channels, and in particular through the Citizens’ Award public vote. Finalists will be offered a complementary training on social media by an expert in communications with a proven track record in both profit and non-profit communication. Social media serves as a powerful tool for engaging with a wide audience, and the purpose of the training is to provide the finalists with the necessary knowledge and digital skills to promote the Award, their projects, and daily activities in an appealing and efficient way. In addition, they will receive tailor-made visuals that they can use to communicate to their own networks

The finalists will be invited to attend the Award Ceremony in Brussels. Before the Award Ceremony, all finalists are invited to join a half-day networking event in Brussels. This is a great opportunity to meet and exchange with the other finalists and representatives of the European Commission working in nature conservation.

Winners will receive a small financial prize to put towards their conservation activities, in addition to all the benefits mentioned above for finalists. To celebrate their win not only in Brussels, but also back home, the European Commission supports all winners in the organisation of a local event.

Here are the top three advantages of applying for – and winning - the Award, according to past winners of the Award:

1. Get recognition for your work!

Winning the Award has a very positive impact on the profile of your organisation and provides a clear and visible recognition of your work. 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. This is true for typical Natura 2000 stakeholders (for instance, conservation NGOs or public authorities) but also for less typical stakeholders (such as farmers, hunting associations, tourism organisations, schools, sporting associations, etc.).

2. Increase your media reach!

Having your work promoted on the Natura 2000 Award website, in the Award Newsflash and via social media results in a much-increased media attention and increased stakeholder awareness. Finalists will be offered professional training in social media communications, which they can use both to promote the Award and in their day-to-day activities. In addition, they will receive tailor-made visuals that they can use to communicate to their own networks.

3. Receive benefits for your ongoing activities!

Winners receive a small financial prize to help support their future conservation efforts and, of course, a trophy and a certificate. All finalists are also invited to attend the Award Ceremony in Brussels which provides a useful and exciting opportunity to meet and network with other Natura 2000 heroes as well as policy-makers and other stakeholders.

Rewarding diversity!

The winners of the Award serve as inspiration for others on the many different ways in which the Natura 2000 network can be protected and maintained. The Natura 2000 Award reflects this diversity of approaches and organisations. Use the Award as a unique opportunity to demonstrate how everyone can contribute to nature conservation! 

Find out below which applications are particularly encouraged for the 2024 edition of the Award:

  • Member States from which few applications have been received in the past (in particular Croatia, Malta, Sweden, Finland, Cyprus, Luxemburg, Romania and Latvia).  
  • Applications from organisations whose day-to-day business is not typically centred around Natura 2000 or nature conservation, such as sports associations, businesses, schools, landowners, hunting and fishing groups, tourism associations … as well as from actors that bring together conflicting parties to improve the Natura 2000 network are particularly welcome.  
  • Applicants to categories that receive lower numbers of applicants (for example, Working together for nature, and Cross-border cooperation categories) stand a higher chance of success.
  • Several past applications have demonstrated how Member States can learn from one another. Collaborative initiatives are therefore particularly welcome to apply.
  • Finding innovative ways to pay for ecosystem services is of interest to a wide range of Natura 2000 actors.
  • The impact of funding by the LIFE programme is clearly confirmed by the many high-quality applications to the Nature 2000 award from LIFE projects. Applications which are funded in other ways - including much smaller, local projects as well as other EU funds such as Interreg, EARDF, MFAF, etc - are also very welcome in order to demonstrate how everyone can contribute to the Natura 2000 network.

For more detailed information about the kinds of applications received, and lessons learned from previous editions, you can download the full Natura 2000 Award benchmarking reports here: 

Support for Applicants

Eligibility criteria 

All types of public and private organisations – businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, landowners, educational institutions or individuals – involved in managing one or more Natura 2000 sites across the European Union are eligible to apply.   

An overview of the full Eligibility criteria is available here (in English only). 


There are five categories to choose from, and the public will vote for a sixth prize, the Citizen’s Award.   

Not sure which category to submit your application under?  Find out more on the Categories page.   

Selection criteria 

An overview of the selection criteria for each of the categories, along with guidance on what kind of information to provide for each, is available here (in English only).   

Online information session 

The European Commission organised an open webinar at 14:30 CET on 15 June 2023 to present the 2024 edition of the Natura 2000 Award. The webinar included a Q&A session. You can find copies of the presentations and a recording of the webinar here.

2024 edition timeframe 

The current edition of the European Natura 2000 Award kicked off on 22 May 2023 – shortly after Natura 2000 Day. Other key dates for the current edition are presented below. 

  1. 22 May 2023

    Launch of 2024 edition call for applications

  2. 12 October 2023

    Deadline for 2024 edition call for applications

  3. March 2024

    Finalists announced

  4. March-April 2024

    Public vote for Citizens' Award

  5. May 2024

    Award ceremony

Interested in keeping up to date with the Award? 

Sign-up to the Natura 2000 Award Newsflash.

Contact the Natura 2000 Secretariat