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Natura 2000 Award - FLORA: Empowering conservation entrepreneurs in Austria

About the project

Main applicant

Blühendes Österreich - REWE International gemeinnützige Privatstiftung  


Cross-border cooperation 

Countries involved


Main N2000 site

Wienerwald-Thermenregion (AT1211A00)


In Austria, many habitats that depend on human management are in a poor condition, due mainly to a move away from traditional extensive management, especially in grassland and meadow habitats.

The environmental NGO Blühendes Ôsterreich (“Blossoming Austria”) developed a new approach to the protection of high nature value farmland in Natura 2000 sites in Austria: the FLORA programme. This unusual pgoramme’s aim was to secure long-term management of such areas through the creation of specially-created partnerships of so-called “conservation entrepreneurs” (NGOs, communities and farmers). The title of “conservation entrepreneur” was conferred on participants to encourage ownership as well as pride in their involvement in FLORA’s activities. More than this, these partnerships were conceived of to be game-changers, improving biodiversity in their regions and beyond.

The partnerships received financial support to implement flagship projects that will benefit priority habitat types and species (such as high natura value farmland), as well as being supported with advice on nature conservation, accompanied press and media work, leveraging of other private and public partners, recurring evaluations of habitat management, as well zoological-botanical monitoring.

Over a period of seven years (2015-2021), FLORA supported 28 nature conservation projects in Natura 2000 sites in eastern Austria: new conservation organisations and collaborations were established in the Natura 2000 sites Waldviertel, Wachau, Wienerwald-Thermenregion, Steyr-Ennstal/Planwiesen and Western Weinviertel.

The support from FLORA secured long-term activities (including mowing, grazing, fencing and species-specific management) and site management on 900 hectares in the Natura 2000 sites, including 400 hectares of high nature value farmland. Monitoring shows that, through FLORA, partners have improved and enlarged the management of 19 protected habitat types and hundreds of species that are protected in these Natura 2000 sites.

On learning that FLORA had won the public vote and was awarded with the 2022 Citizens’ Award, Tanja Dietrich-Hübner, Head of Sustainability at BILLA AG and board member of Blühendes Österreich said: “The Award strengthens our efforts to show that private sector and business initiatives are enablers for biodiversity and climate protection.”