30 May, 2015
Brussels, (European Commission media release) 21 May 2015 – The six winners of the 2015 Natura 2000 Awards were announced at a Ceremony in Brussels on 21 May 2015. The six winners include projects from Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and a trans-boundary project that involves nine Danube countries.
Winners have been selected for each of the five categories: Conservation, Communication, Socio-Economic Benefits, Reconciling Interests/Perceptions, and Cross-border cooperation and Networking. In addition, the first ever winner of the Citizens’ Award was announced. All six winners received trophies from the European Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella and members of the high level jury.
“Sincere congratulations to the winners and the finalists in this second edition of the Natura 2000 Award!” said Commissioner Vella. “These deserving winners are leading lights for the thousands of Europeans working every day to make the Natura 2000 network one of the EU’s outstanding achievements. And it’s clear that citizens understand the value of these efforts for our precious protected areas – I was delighted to see that almost 25 000 people voted for the inaugural Citizens’ Award this year!”
(+) The Conservation Award went to the Blue Reef project in Kattegat, Denmark. Developed by the Danish Nature Agency together with partners Aarhus University and DTU Aqua, the project succeeded in restoring rare cavernous boulder reefs, ensuring the return of typical key fish such as cod and hake, as well as other marine species like sea anemone. [more]
(+) The Communication Award went to the Long live life! Biodiversity meets communities project, implemented by Naturefriends from Bodanrück and Westlicher Bodensee in Germany, for improving public knowledge with 40 Natura Trails in Baden-Württemberg that receive 45 million day hikers each year, a Natura 2000 exhibition ‘Es lebe das Leben’ and Natura 2000 Days in more than 30 sites. [more]
(+) Vultures: Providing Gains for Nature and Communities in Gorges du Tarn et de la Jonte, France won the Socio-Economic Benefits Award for demonstrating that nature conservation and economic development can go hand in hand. Since 2008 the Hunting Federation of Lozere has been promoting actions to support agro-pastoralism and attracted 30,000 tourists, using the vultures as a brand. [more]
(+) The Reconciling interests/perceptions Award goes to the Favourable social environments for bear conservation project from Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias in Spain. In order to reduce the conflict between humans and bears, Fundación Oso Pardo brought stakeholders together to preserve bears. More than 4,500 hunters signed agreements to reconcile hunting with bear conservation, and help to farmers and bee-keepers has been provided. As a result the Cantabrian bear population has grown from 70 to over 230 bears. [more]
(+) The DANUBEPARKS project bridging Natura 2000 sites along the Danube won the Cross-border cooperation and Networking Award. Representing 30 Natura sites in nine Danube countries, the project enabled the managers of all relevant Danube Protected Areas to systematically tackle common challenges on a Danube-wide scale. [more]
This year, a new category – the European Citizens’ Award – gave the public a chance to vote for their favourite finalist. The communication project Natura 2000 Day in Spain captured the public imagination. [more]