"My warmest congratulations to these deserving winners!” said Commissioner Potocnik. “Natura 2000 is one of the EU's outstanding achievements, and it works because of the tireless efforts of people on the ground. These awards serve to highlight some of the great work that is being done across the EU by a host of site managers, public authorities, conservation organisations and volunteers, farmers, foresters, hunters and fishermen, scientists, teachers and many others besides. This is their day, and they richly deserve this success."
Natura 2000 is a network of over 27.000 protected sites that covers 18 percent of the EU landmass and four percent of marine areas, protecting and enhancing Europe’s natural heritage. These Awards recognise excellence in Natura 2000 site management, showcasing the value of the network for local communities and economies.
And the winners are the following:
The "Conservation" Award went to a project for saving the imperial eagle in Sakar in Bulgaria. Thanks to the work of the project team and the cooperation between conservationists and private companies, the local population of this globally threatened species has been brought back from close to extinction. By working with energy companies to insulate dangerous power lines and bury overhead cables, the project successfully eliminated the risk of electrocution, a serious problem facing this bird of prey.
A project in Sighisoara-Târnava Marein, Romania won the "Socio-Economic Benefits" Award, with an impressive example of Natura 2000 providing economic growth and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. The project enables farmers to make a better living, while also preserving a unique landscape with rich biodiversity. Thanks to the project 2300 farming families in the region generate income of more than €2.5 million annually, and similar ideas are now being applied in other parts of Romania.
The "Communication" Award goes to Raná-Hrádek in the Czech Republic for promoting the protection of dry grassland habitats in the Louny region. A ‘Celebration of the steppes’ event attracts 1000 people every May, and an annual art competition helps make children more aware of conservation work. The project raises awareness amongst EU citizens about the value of natural heritage.
The "Reconciling Interests/Perceptions" Award went to a project in the Vijvergebied van Midden Limburg site in Belgium. Landowners, nature organisations and authorities – once in conflict over nature conservation – now work together here to manage wetlands, thanks to an innovative approach combining economy, ecology and education.
The "Networking & Cross-Border Cooperation" Award goes to a technical cooperation network in Spain for developing quality standards for management and a reference website on the state of the Natura 2000 network in Spain. Rebollar de Navalpotro in Guadalajara is one area where these actions have been successfully applied, showing how Natura 2000 is both a network of species and habitats and a network of people.
adelphi developed the concept for the competition and implemented it with two partners. Aspects of the mandate were the selection an international jury, setting up a website, creating communication material and organising the award event.