New award shines a spotlight on Europe's biodiversity
A Natura 2000 Award has been launched by the European Commission to recognise best practices for nature conservation in Europe. Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas of high biodiversity value that covers around 20% of EU territory from mountainous areas to wetlands and beaches and coastal estuaries which are home to a wealth of flora and fauna. 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 a serious problem but that only 27% of respondents to the survey had actually heard of Natura 2000. Five categories will feature in the new awards covering good communication, conservation actions, socio-economic benefits, reconciling interests/perceptions, and networking and cross-border cooperation. Whilst the deadline for 2014 applications is on 18th February 2014, future awards in 2015 will be publicised over the summer on the awards website. Applications are welcome from any entity directly involved in Natura 2000. The 2014 awards ceremony will take place in Brussels in May 2014.