The European Commission recently launched the 2018 edition of the EU Natura 2000 Award. Now in its fourth year, the Award honours leading nature conservation achievements connected to Europe’s Natura 2000 Network of protected areas.
The Award is open to any organisation or person involved in Natura 2000, including public and local authorities, businesses, NGOs, land owners, educational institutions and individuals.
The application period runs from May to September 2017 and the Award Ceremony will take place on Natura 2000 Day – May 21, 2018.
The Award comprises five categories: Conservation; Socio-Economic Benefits; Communication; Reconciling Interests/Perceptions and Cross-Border Cooperation and Networking as well as a European Citizens’ Award.
Introduced for the first time in 2015, the Citizens’ Award provides the general public with an opportunity to vote for their favourite project. The initiative has received an enthusiastic response so far with over 62,000 votes cast in 2015 and 2016.
Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy. Established under the EU’s Birds Directive and Habitats Directive, it is an EU-wide network of over 27,000 terrestrial and marine sites, covering more than 18 percent of land area and 6 percent of sea in the EU. These areas protected by the network, contribute not only to biodiversity but also between 1.7 and 2.5 percent to EU GDP through the provision of ecosystem services such as carbon storage, water purification, pollination and tourism.
European Natura 2000 Day – May 21
To mark the 25th Anniversary of the Habitats Directive and of the LIFE Programme, the European Commission together with the European Parliament, the Council Presidency and the Committee of the Regions declared 21st May as “European Natura 2000 Day”. The declaration was signed at a special event at the European Commission premises in Brussels on 15th May 2017.