Discover previous editions of the Award below and find out what Natura 2000 heroes have been doing in their regions to protect Europe’s unique natural heritage. Using the map, you can navigate through excellent Natura 2000 initiatives from across the EU.
The winners of the Natura 2000 Award in the Conservation category in 2020 held a number of events on the 17 and 18 May 2022 to celebrate their award. The Finnish Ministry of Environment was the lead partner of the winning application, the innovative “Using underwater inventories for the conservation of marine areas in Finland (VELMU)” project. The Ministry marked the occasion with a series of events to further disseminate knowledge about the project and marine biodiversity conservation.
The events began with several meetings focusing on the sustainable management of marine and Natura 2000 areas. This was followed by a field trip to Liminka Bay National Park and Natura 2000 site, one of Europe’s most important wetlands, where the project partners were joined by around 35 students from a school focusing on teaching sustainability concepts.
Following a presentation given by the students, the group took part in a range of activities including birdwatching, and learning about the VELMU programme and its sampling methods. The participants continued to visit a restoration site at the Temmesjoki Estuary and finished the day with a dinner. The event concluded on the following day with a new round of presentations focusing on threatened species and restoration measures in Natura 2000 sites.
To celebrate winning the Natura 2000 Award in 2020 for the Cross-border cooperation and Networking category, the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA CR) hosted a local event from 16-18 March 2022 close to the Natura 2000 “Beskydy Protected Landscape Area” site. The event was attended by various representatives of the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, practitioners working in relevant protected areas, members of the NCA CR as well as media representatives.
The participants came together for an official dinner with a conference the following day. The conference focused on cross-border conservation measures for different species within the Carpathian area, with an emphasis on large carnivores. The aim of the conference was to develop a new cross-border cooperation plan for the upcoming two years. To conclude the event, the hosts organised an excursion to three ecological corridors (e.g. railway underpasses), which facilitate the movement of large carnivores in the Czech-Slovak border region.
The Spanish winner “Pro-Biodiversidad: shepherds as biodiversity conservators in Natura 2000” received the Natura 2000 Award in 2020 under the Socio-economic benefits category. Their achievement: The creation and implementation of a special certification brand, Pro-Biodiversidad (Pro-Biodiversity), to support the extensive sheep farming sector, halt rural abandonment and improve conditions for biodiversity, with a particular focus on scavengers.
The Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture celebrated winning the Natura 2000 Award on 28-29 October 2021 in the Picos de Europa National Park in northern Spain. The event brought together representatives of local and regional authorities, the European Commission, the local tourism sector and the media.
Participants visited farmers and their sheep to learn about challenges in livestock management and the animals’ essential role in the maintenance of biodiversity-rich grasslands. This was followed by a discussion with farmers participating in the Pro-Biodiversidad certification brand, during which the participants learned first-hand about the obstacles farmers face in livestock management. The event concluded with a small ceremony to celebrate winning the award, followed by a gastronomic tasting of lamb meat certified by the Pro-Biodiversidad brand.
The Belgian initiative “Ten keys to co-ownership for nature projects” won the Natura 2000 Award in 2020 for Reconciling interests / perceptions for their original approach to improving nature protection by involving a wide group of actors in nature decision-making.
To mark their win, the project organisers held an event in northern Belgium on 24 October 2020. The invitees included the Flemish Minister of the Environment, Zuhal Demir, as well as representatives of local authorities, project volunteers and the press.
The “10 keys to co-ownership” were directly applied during this event. For example, Minister Demir’s participation in the event – during which he joined a bike ride to visit otter holds – gives the initiative external recognition, and an informal discussion with volunteers and participants later in the day promotes the importance of investing in communication and focusing on the end result. Learn more about the 10 keys here.
The winner “Partnership for protection of Bulgarian old-growth forests in Natura 2000” from Bulgaria resolved a year-long conflict of interests between forest owners and nature conservationists. The initiative’s success was awarded the European Citizens’ Award 2020 after having received the highest number of votes from the public.
The win was celebrated on 20 July 2021 in the Vitosha Mountains, an old-growth forest south-west of Sofia. The event had an extensive guest list, including the Bulgarian Executive Forest Agency; the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Bulgaria; WWF Bulgaria; the Association of Parks in Bulgaria; and the Balkani Wildlife Society as well as around 30 journalists, media representatives and influencers.
The highlight of the event was a guided tour through the 100-year-old beech forest by the Executive Director of the Forest Agency and scientists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences during which participants learned about the forest’s characteristics and conservation value as well as about ongoing conservation efforts in Bulgaria in the context of Natura 2000.
The event finished at the Vitosha Eco-Centre where journalists had the opportunity to interview representatives of government agencies, NGOs and research institutions.