The Callisto NGO based in Thessaloniki, dedicated to the protection of the brown bear, and a joint conservation effort to save the migratory Egyptian Vulture were among the six projects that won the 2018 European Natura 2000 Awards.
The winners were announced during a special ceremony in Brussels, last week, in the attendance of European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.
Callisto clinched the Reconciling Interests/Perceptions Award for its “Co-existing with Bears in the 21st Century: Difficulties and Achievements” project. The venture was implemented in Greece, and aimed to raise awareness and support for bears. Since 2009, Callisto has introduced measures in order to reduce conflicts with bears in rural areas, including the creation of a network of guard dog owners and interested stockbreeders, “bear-proof” waste-bins and electric fences to protect beehives and orchards, as well as protective motorway barriers.
The Greece-Bulgaria-UK project titled “Joint Conservation Efforts Across Three Continents to Save the Sacred Bird” won the Cross-border Cooperation and Networking Award for its support of the Egyptian Vulture.
Some 178 customs officers in Greece and Bulgaria were trained to control the illegal trade of the vulture, including other measures such as the support of 1,400 farmers in Bulgaria for vulture-friendly management of pastures and the insulation of electricity pylons in Greece and Bulgaria.
Greece was among 25 finalists from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxemburg, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK – selected out of 75 applications from across the EU. The awards recognize initiatives working to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
The other winners were: Conservation Award: “Partnership to Stop the Poisoning of Imperial Eagles” (Hungary), Communication Award: “Connecting People with Biodiversity” (Spain), Socio-Economic Benefits Award: “LIFE to Alvars: Restoration and Grazing Reintroduction for 2,500 Hectares of Estonian Alvar Grasslands” (Estonia), and the European Citizens’ Award: “School of Nature” (Portugal).