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Welcome to the Natura 2000 Award!

Get the recognition
you deserve!

Welcome to the European Natura 2000 Award!

The European Natura 2000 Award rewards excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and showcases the added value of the network for local communities and economies across the European Union.

The European Commission is proud to announce the start of the application phase for the 2022 edition of the Award. The new edition includes updated Award categories to put more focus on the conservation of marine and coastal areas.

Get the recognition you deserve! Any organisation or individual can apply for an Award, so long as their work is directly linked to one or more Natura 2000 sites. All the information needed to apply can be found below.

New to Natura 2000 or the Award? Scroll down this page to find out more.

What is the European Natura 2000 Award?

Despite its scale and the wealth of benefits it provides, many Europeans have not heard of the Natura 2000 network. This is why, in 2014, the European Commission launched the European Natura 2000 Award. The aim of the award is to demonstrate what the Natura 2000 network is, what it does to preserve Europe’s biodiversity, and how it benefits us all. The Award also pays tribute to all those who work tirelessly to make Natura 2000 a success.


The award recognises good practices at Natura 2000 sites in five different categories:

  1. Conservation on land
  2. Marine conservation
  3. Communication
  4. Socio-economic benefits
  5. Cross-border cooperation

You can find more information about the categories here

The Citizens' Award

The European Natura 2000 Citizens’ Award is a high-profile recognition of the public’s favourite Natura 2000 Award finalist, decided through a public vote. It is awarded each edition in addition to the five category winners.

During the public voting period, eveyone can vote online for their favourite contender for the Citizens’ Award. The finalist receiving the most votes is rewarded with the “European Citizens’ Award”. Nearly 45 000 votes were cast during the 2020 Award - an amazing achievement that shows just how much the European public cares about Natura 2000. 

What is Natura 2000?

The Natura 2000 network lies at the heart of EU nature legislation (the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, also referred to as the Nature Directives). It is a Europe-wide ecological network of nature conservation areas which works to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. All EU Member States have designated Natura 2000 sites to help conserve the rare habitats and species present in their territory.

Almost 27 000 sites have been included in the network so far. In total, they cover a substantial area: more than 18% of Europe’s land area and around 9% of the surrounding seas. This makes it the largest coordinated network of conservation areas anywhere in the world.

Although the network includes strictly protected nature reserves, Natura 2000 embraces a much wider approach to conservation and sustainable use of protected areas, largely centred on people working with nature.

Since every site is unique, the emphasis is on finding local solutions to local management issues in close cooperation with landowners, stakeholders, and any other interested parties. The Habitats and Birds Directives introduce a modern, flexible and inclusive approach to site conservation that recognises that humans are an integral part of nature and that the two work best in partnership with one another. In this way, everyone has a role to play in making Natura 2000 a success, be they public authorities, private landowners and users, developers, conservation NGOs, scientific experts, local communities or individual members of the public.

For more information, visit: Natura 2000 website and the European Commission Nature and Biodiversity website, and sign-up for the Natura 2000 Newsletter.

What do nature and Natura 2000 do for you?

A lot! Have you ever considered how healthy freshwater ecosystems provide clean water? How peat bogs help store carbon, or how forests improve air and soil quality, for example? Natura 2000 protects these functions and many more besides, providing space for sustainable recreational activities such as hiking and fishing, and economic opportunities such as timber and food.