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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 19 December 2013

New award shines a spotlight on Europe's biodiversity

The European Commission is launching a Natura 2000 Award to recognise excellence in best practices for nature conservation in Europe. If you are involved in activities related to Natura 2000, this could be your chance to shine. Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas of high biodiversity value that covers around 20% of EU territory with a wealth of flora and fauna, from mountainous beech forests in the Czech Republic to turtles in Polish wetlands and dolphins off the coast of Spain. As well as protecting nature, the network provides numerous social and economic benefits.

Europeans feel strongly about nature conservation, but few are familiar with Natura 2000. A recent Eurobarometer survey found that nine out of ten Europeans see the decline of natural habitats and the endangering and disappearance of certain animals and plants as serious problems. Most citizens believe that the role of nature protection in preventing the destruction of valuable areas on land and at sea is important (ranging from 99% to 83% among the Member States). But only 27% of respondents to the survey had actually heard of Natura 2000.

This new annual Award aims to remedy this lack of public awareness, showcasing the variety of Natura 2000 sites and recognising excellence in a wide range of activities. Five awards will be given out each year in different areas, covering communication, conservation actions, socio-economic benefits, reconciling interests/perceptions, and networking and cross-border cooperation.

Applications are welcome from any entity directly involved in Natura 2000 (public and local authorities, businesses, NGOs, land owners, educational institutions and individuals). The deadline for applications is 18 February 2014. More information is available on the Natura 2000 Award website

The winners of this inaugural Natura 2000 Award will be announced in May 2014 and their achievements will be recognised at a high level ceremony in Brussels.

Background

Natura 2000 is the centre piece of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy. It is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. While the network does include nature reserves, most of the land is privately owned. The emphasis is on ensuring that future management is sustainable, both ecologically and economically.

For further information

Website of European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/potocnik/index_en.htm

Websites of DG Environment:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/index_en.htm

Contact :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)


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