Summaries for all of the applications submitted under the 2018 edition of the Natura 2000 Award can be found below.
Vallées de l'Ouysse et de l'Alzou – FR7300902More
The territory of the Causses du Quercy Regional Nature Park includes 13 Natura 2000 sites: 11 are run by the Park and 2 by Marc Esslinger/SOLAGRO. The stakes identified on these sites are similar because they are located on the same karst territory, and concern dry grasslands and scrublands on plateaus of causses, as well as valley meadows and rivers.
These sites have been active for more than 10 years now. From 2015, The Presidents of the steering committees (Copil) wanted to stimulate the life of the Natura 2000 sites, and to create a network of Natura 2000 stakeholders across these sites. In order to meet this demand, the Park proposed to set up technical exchanges between the members of the steering committees of all the sites, on top of the "classical" Copil meeting.
The Park has therefore created the "InterCOPILs Days", a series of thematic, diversified and convivial exchange days. The purpose of these InterCOPILs Days is to bring together the members of all the steering committees of the 13 Natura 2000 sites around a theme chosen in connection with the Natura 2000 issues and proposed by the Presidents of the Copils. These annual meetings aim to raise awareness and increase the skills of local actors, especially elected representatives of the territory, so that they can appropriate these spaces and their stakes.
There is also a desire to create a network with the local actors of the Natura 2000 sites in order to share the same values and local experiences. Three InterCOPILs Days have already been organised. The first Day brought together 22 people. It took place on the theme of the preservation of saproxylophagous insects of Community interest. The second Day focussed on ponds. 20 participants were able to address the issue of fish stocking leading to the loss of native species. In 2017, in partnership with nature sports professionals, 16 participants were able to rediscover the biodiversity of the Célé River on a canoe!
These InterCOPILs Days have become a must-attend event of the year in the life of Natura 2000 sites. These moments allow for a friendly and relaxed exchange of views on Natura 2000 issues. They facilitate the networking of local actors from the 13 sites in the Park's territory.
Vallée de la Wimbe – BE35037C0More
"One step beyond: limiting parasiticide use in Natura 2000 pastures" - In Wallonia, the Natura 2000 network extends over 221 000 hectares (240 sites) and aims to protect Europe's most threatened species and habitats through targeted management. More than 16 % of this area is located on agricultural land and depends on the continuation of farming activities, such as grazing, to maintain its distinctive biodiversity. Scientific publications have shown that when animals are dewormed, parasiticide residues in the environment have a negative impact on dung organisms and their predators, which may be protected species within Natura 2000 (e.g. Lanius excubitor, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum). For those farmers who maintain their Natura 2000 grasslands through grazing (with cattle, sheep, horses, etc.), parasiticide use should be limited, and animals should be treated "as often as necessary and as rarely as possible".
Since 2013, farmers and veterinarians have been sensitised towards a "reasoned use of parasiticides" through dedicated conferences and publications in targeted journals. In addition, two booklets in French and two booklets in German have been edited and recently updated. One of them covers the reasoned use of parasiticides in cattle and sheep, and the other one covers the same subject in horses.
A yearly parasite-limiting strategy, in consultation with the farm's guidance veterinarian, is also offered for each "Natura 2000 farm", since limiting parasiticide use has at least 3 types of benefits: ecological, economical and sanitary. The ultimate goal of this veterinary advice is to find an appropriate balance between agricultural outcomes and biodiversity conservation. One part of the veterinary follow-up consists in coprology (i.e. faecal egg count) before taking a decision on deworming. In 2016, coprology follow-up in 41 farms showed that this initiative resulted in a significant reduction in parasiticide use. In light of the above, we would like to share this successful approach and apply it to other areas/communities/countries.
LIFE+ Scalluvia (2013-2018) is the story of NIMBY to PIMBY, with the happy ending of co-ownership. The project restored 90 ha of alluvial forest (91E0) and creeks (3150) in the Polders van Kruibeke, the largest flood control area in Belgium. The restoration benefits little bittern, purple heron, kingfisher, bluethroat, bitterling, and spined loach. Osprey, bleak, beaver and otter also became residents for the first time.
Although flood protection and recreation infrastructure are provided as well as nature conservation, the Polders lacked public support. The expropriations created a lot of resistance. 365 Weekly (2003-2010) protest demonstrations were held. LIFE+Scalluvia needed to engage the inhabitants to co-create the Polders. The municipality became a project partner and evolved from biggest opponent to biggest supporter working with an NGO for managing the recreational activities and the guiding and monitoring of volunteers in the Polders. Together with the other partners (Agency for Nature an Forest, Waterways and See Canal, local nature organization Kruin) a whole community around the project has been created by involving and engaging various target groups through guided wharf walks, training and equipping of ambassadors, activities for children and youths. Fishing spots, hiking trails, local history information panels, a bird wall, a shelter, a play forest, a viewing point and land art were realized. Every stakeholder was addressed in a bottom up and participative manner to become ambassador of ‘his’ Polders van Kruibeke and secure a sustainable future for the project. The international attention gave the inhabitants a sense of pride and the project mascot, Xavier the Roe, is now the most wanted guest for Polder events. We can now share 10 keys to co-ownership to guide similar projects.
Loch Leven – UK9004111More
Loch Leven, Kinross, is the largest eutrophic freshwater lake in lowland Scotland. It is a Special Protection Area (SPA) for its wintering waterfowl and a RAMSAR wetland of International Importance. It regularly supports over 20,000 waterfowl, including whooper swan, pink-footed goose, shoveler, goldeneye, tufted duck, cormorant, gadwall, teal and pochard.Around 80% of the catchment is farmed. Historically, nutrient inputs from agricultural, domestic and industrial discharges degraded the lake’s water quality through nutrient enrichment. In 1992, this nutrient enrichment led to a devastating algal bloom known locally as 'Scum Saturday'. This resulted in an estimated loss of £1 million to the local economy over the three months that followed and was a real catalyst for action.
Local people and organisations worked together to create and implement a catchment management plan that resulted in waste water treatment works being upgraded, industrial pollution being controlled and agricultural diffuse pollution being addressed. This has vastly improved water quality.This vital work to improve the water quality of Loch Leven has also improved its popularity as a visitor attraction, harnessed through the recent creation of the 21km long Heritage Trail. This wildlife-sensitive trail attracts over 200,000 visitors to the SPA every year, providing enormous economic benefits for local businesses.The four interlinked management activities that have contributed to significant socio-economic benefits at Loch Leven are: Farmer Engagement, Sustainable Tourism, Planning and Monitoring. All of these contribute directly or indirectly to maintaining the SPA bird populations.
Montserrat-Roques Blanques - riu Llobregat – ES5110012More
The project aims towards fire protection, grazing, biodiversity and the environment. The project area has a high conservation interest with numerous habitats and species included in the Birds and Habitats Directives. Flora is enormously rich with more than a thousand taxa of which are 14 are endemic and 6 are threatened. Regarding habitats, the shrub communities have a significant presence as the result of the vegetation degradation process. The great extent of the forest area maintains adequate biotopes for the development of the typical Mediterranean fauna. However, part of the forest was burnt down in past wildfires, making it difficult to find mature forest habitats.
The ancient Montserrat monastery is a spiritual centre of Catalonia with 2.6 million visitors. But the agrarian economy collapsed as the area become rapidly depopulated during the 1960s and 70s leading to a new landscape composed mostly of abandoned fields. The rural desertion and abandonment of many traditional rural activities resulted in an expansion of fire-prone vegetation communities with fuel loads that have led to 8 major wildfires since 1973. The lack of open spaces also caused a regression of habitats and species of community importance. A residual and unstructured silvo-pastoral activity needs to be encouraged by incorporating new farmers. The project aimed to reconcile opposing interests and restore a degree of management to the area through numerous workshops with forest owners, ranchers and mayors, technical visits to select livestock, workshops to analyze decisions between Life project technicians and experts from different disciplines etc.. The project meets the interests of diverse institutions such as the European Union, Firemen, Generalitat de Catalunya and Foundations and it has made possible to bring farmers and owners interests closer together.
Troisvierges - Cornelysmillen – LU0001038More
The Vennbahn is an old railway which connected Aachen in Germany to Troisvierges in Luxembourg. The last train-passage on these rails took place in the early 60's. The Vennbahn-Tunnel, at 790 meters, was the longest tunnel in Luxembourg at the time of its construction in the 1880's, but has remained unused for decades.
Luckily, its microclimate turned out to be perfectly suitable as a winter roost for different species of bats found in Luxembourg. Indeed, a study found at least 12 of the 19 species present in Luxembourg were found here. The inclusion of this territory in the Natura 2000 network is therefore easily understandable; it is part of the Habitats Directive-site LU0001038 Troisvierges-Cornelysmillen. After the railway of the Vennbahn was converted to a bike path, the tunnel constituted a problem. How was it possible to connect Luxembourg to the bike path without chasing the bats out of the tunnel? And how could awareness of the bats be raised without inciting people to enter the tunnel and thereby disturb the bats?
The first step was to bring the stakeholders together and try to find a solution that suited everybody in order to guarantee the success of the project. The solution was to build the bike path around the tunnel and to realize an adventure trail sensitizing the visitors on the Vennbahn bike path to the presence of bats in the tunnel and their status as endangered species. The adventure trail also gives information about the railway and its use before its conversion. In order to prevent disturbance of the bat colonies, access on both sides of the tunnel is restricted by gates placed 75 meters from the entrances.
Baie et Cap d'Antibes – Iles de Lérins – FR9301573More
Battery of the Graillon owned by the "Conservatory of the littoral" (2.2 ha), is located on the Cap d'Antibes. It is a site that has been dedicated to the discovery and education of the environment since 2013. Rich in a natural and cultural heritage, this site presents remarkable natural features that are typical of the Mediterranean coastline. For more than 5 years this site, managed by the Espace Mer et Littoral of the City of Antibes, has been offering various environmental awareness activities, such as free exhibitions, discovery of the marine habitats of around our coasts (Posidonia herbarium, coralligenous, sandy bottom and the open sea), backlit photographic exposure in the dark on the Mediterranean nightlife fauna, exhibition on the origin of macro-waste and activities to raise awareness of eco-citizens, continuous video projection on the marine environment, discovery of a Mediterranean botanical trail in the Graillon pine forest, landscape observations from the top of the Tower.
There are also a series of supervised activities involving the discovery of the marine environment with fins, masks and snorkels, naturalist outings in a kayak, discoveries from the land with guided hikes along the coastal path. Various educational activities are also offered from the age of 3 years on littoral marine and coastal flora and fauna. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, managed by the Marineland Foundation is specifically designed to treat marine turtles found injured along our coast. Once recovered, the animals are released into their natural environment. Every day, a meeting with the trainers allows the public to be informed and sensitized about the protection of these emblematic marine animals.
Ennsaltarme bei Niederstuttern – AT2240000More
The Styrian Enns Valley, in the middle of Austria, is rich in protected areas. However when speaking about Natura 2000, people in our region (e.g. land users) have negative feelings. They think of limitations and restrictions, but did not see the positive aspect of nature protection and the conservation of the traditional cultural landscape. Under the slogan “BE-NATUR” we organize Science Days and Science Weeks to make the aims of Natura 2000 more accessible and attractive to the local population. Our Science Days/Weeks comprise all ages/levels of education. At least 4 events are organized each year (experience days, hands-on workshops, breakfast in nature, field days/demonstration events). The investigation of habitats/species, development of nesting possibilities or removal of invasive species creates an added value for the sites. Our events are evaluated by the participants. On site an information centre including science lab, a viewing tower, boards/flyers was established.
Our communication activities take place in an area within the SAC “Ennsaltarme bei Niederstuttern” and the SPA “Ennstal zwischen Liezen und Niederstuttern”, representing the characteristic cultural landscape as well as typical habitats and rare species of the region. Representative flagship species (e.g. Iris sibirica, Crex crex, Saxicola rubetra) were chosen to create a better understanding of nature protection. The establishment of a direct link between local habitats/species in need of protection and the Enns Valley helps people to identify themselves more strongly with Natura 2000. Our flagship species are not only used for awareness raising actions but also for the promotion of our events, to have a better and wider recognition. We develop special equipment/infrastructure on site which is used for communication activities. Through various target-group-oriented events we create different approaches to the topic, to reach as many people as possible. Our visitors participate in research and management actions and experience nature protection first hand. The activities are realized in tight cooperation with relevant stakeholders and other local actors from our research and education network.
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas – ES0000035More
Vultures are magnificent birds that not only fulfil a vital function in our ecosystem, but are part of our culture. The bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus, is the rarest of the four vulture species that exist in Europe and has a population estimated at 170-180 pairs.
In Andalusia (Spain), the bearded vulture disappeared in 1986 mainly because of direct persecution, accidental poisoning and human disturbance at the nesting sites.
The Fundación Gypaetus operates the bearded vulture breeding centre (CCQ) of Cazorla, which was inaugurated in 1996. It became one of the most important centres for ex situ conservation of the bearded vulture worldwide. More than 50 chicks born in the centre have been used for captive breeding or released in various projects to reintroduce the species in Europe. Ten years after the opening of the centre, young birds were released for the first time in the Natural Park of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas (Jaén, Andalusia). Since then, 37 young bearded vultures have been released in Andalusia.
Unfortunately, in the early days, 11 birds were poisoned through pesticides used to kill small predators in the wild. A major anti-poison awareness-raising campaign was carried out in the region from 2010 to 2015, which significantly reduced the mortality of released birds.
The hard work, also supported through the EU LIFE fund, is showing results and two territories are occupied by individuals released under the reintroduction project in Andalusia. Tono (a male released in 2006) and Blimunda (a female released in 2010) paired up in the National Park and on 7 April 2015, the first chick was born in the wild in Andalusia since the species stopped breeding in the region over 30 years ago! Hortelano (a male released in 2010) and Marchena (a female released in 2012) have taken up residence in a second territory in the same Park — there are high hopes for results!
Something that felt like a dream 30 years ago is becoming reality: seeing the bearded vulture flying in Andalusian skies again.
l´Albufera – ES0000023More
València Council and Red Cross-Asamblea Local València are collaborating in an environmental conservation project in the Devesa forest, Valencia (Spain). This volunteering project complements existing council services of forest rangers and environmental informers in fire monitoring and prevention, compliance with regulations and environmental awareness actions. The Council provides technical support and consumables, while the Red Cross implements the project actions in the field. 180 volunteers were trained by both organisations, they have patrolled the Devesa forest in order to supervise incidents, create access and fencing of reserved areas, as well as dissuade by physical presence, information and conducting surveys.
Devesa belongs to l’Albufera Natural Park, which is included in Natura 2000 since its declaration as a Special Protection Area and Site of Community Importance, and contains priority habitats such as dunes wooded with P. pinea and P. pinaster, coastal dunes with Juniperus spp and Mediterranean temporary ponds. Occupying 850 hectares of different eco-systems arranged as strips parallel to the sea (beach, dunes, dune slacks and fixed dunes), it is the best preserved sector of the dune system which settled the sandbar that closed the old Gulf of València, establishing the lagoon of l’Albufera.
Due to its location within a big metropolitan area it is subject to great pressure, especially in summer because of the large influx of visitors and its extension. This is why the fire prevention team needs to be reinforced. During the last 10 years there have been 34 fires, 17.65% of which were caused by negligence and 70.59% were intentional, while July and August were the months with the highest number of hectares burned. Increasing surveillance and environmental awareness would contribute into decrease of these figures. Great achievements have already been made, such as 0 fires in both summers, 1156 incidents detected, 96 ideas for improvement, 4 civic participation projects and obtainment of the visitor profile to develop improvement strategies.