The European Commission's Natura 2000 Award opens for a second year of applications. The aim of the award "is to bring the success of Natura 2000 network to the public's attention and to demonstrate its importance for protecting our valuable natural heritage.

 The annual award is open to any entity involved in activities related to Natura 2000. Local and national authorities, businesses, site managers, land owners, NGOs, educational institutions and individuals from all 28 EU Member States are all eligible to apply".

The call for applications has very recently been launched and the deadline of 21 January 2015 has been set.

"The winners will be announced at a high level ceremony in Brussels on Natura 2000 Day - 21 May 2015. We would greatly appreciate your support in raising the profile of the Award and reaching out to all those involved in the Natura 2000 network. Please spread the word to ensure as wide a range of potential applicants as possible are informed. For more information on how to apply, please consult the website.

Welcome to the Natura 2000 Award

This pan-European Award recognises excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation achievements, showcasing the added value for local economies, and increasing public awareness of Europe's valuable natural heritage.
The Natura 2000 network covers an enormous variety of different sites across the continent. It preserves and enhances Europe’s biodiversity, safeguarding it for future generations, and it provides a range of important benefits, helping nature to help us.
But despite its size and its many benefits, many people have never even heard of it. According to a recent survey, only 27% of respondents have heard of Natura 2000, and only 11% really know what it is.

Celebrating a shared objective

This is why, in 2014, the European Commission launched the annual Natura 2000 Award. The aim of the award is to demonstrate what the network is, what it does to preserve Europe’s biodiversity, and how it benefits all of us. The award recognises good practice at Natura 2000 sites in five different categories: Communication, Socio-economic benefits, Conservation, Reconciling interests/perceptions, and Cross-border cooperation and networking.
Anyone directly involved in Natura 2000 - businesses, authorities, NGOs, volunteers, land owners, educational institutions and individuals - can apply for the award. Applications for the 2015 award can be submitted between 24 November 2014 and 21 January 2015. They will be assessed by a team of independent experts. The finalists will be invited to a high level ceremony in Brussels when the winners will be announced. In addition to receiving their trophy, the winners will receive support in organising local events to highlight their achievements.

What does nature do for you?

A lot! Did you know, for example, that healthy freshwater ecosystems provide clean water and help remove pollutants from the surrounding countryside? That peat bogs help store carbon and forests improve air and soil quality? Natura 2000 protects these functions and many more besides, as well as providing space for sustainable recreational activities such as hiking and fishing, and economic opportunities such as eco-tourism and the production of timber and food.