The LIFE co-financed project ‘Natura 2000: Connecting People with Biodiversity set out to improve the awareness and understanding of Natura 2000 in Spain. According to surveys at the start of the project, just 10% of Spanish people had heard of Natura 2000. The project’s ethos was therefore simple: no one will care about protecting something that they don’t even know it exists.
From September 2012 to March 2017, SEO/BirdLife, a leading non-governmental organisation, joined forces with the Spanish international news agency, Agencia EFE, to carry out a range of communication activities aimed at raising interest and engaging the public and other stakeholders in conserving Spanish Natura 2000 sites for the benefit of all.
As part of the project, a series of half-hour documentaries were developed to showcase Natura 2000 sites and their local communities across different regions of Spain. Beautifully filmed and narrated, the videos allow viewers to discover some of the most interesting and biodiversity rich areas of the country from the comfort of their armchair. The videos were broadcasted on Spanish TV at regular intervals attracting an audience of almost 5 million viewers and 800,000 radio listeners.
A set of toolkits for various audiences was also developed – for people that live and work in Natura 2000, for local administration, for competent authorities etc. A handbook for journalist with explanations and tips on how best to bring the nature importance to the public at large was also produced and widely distributed.
The project also carried out an extensive information campaign on Natura 2000 in 50 hypermarkets in 14 regions in Spain. A dedicated website for youngsters and teenagers, and teachers was developed. 161 news reports about Natura 2000 Network were disseminated via Agencia EFE and 37 workshops were held to explain to people living and working in Natura 2000 site what Natura 2000 means for them and what opportunities it could bring.
At the end of the project, the number of people who knew about the Natura 2000 network in Spain increased from 10% to 22%. The degree of interest in Natura 2000 had also increased: in 2003, 75.7% of the people who knew the network had visited at least one of the sites, by 2017 this had risen to 90%. Two out of three consumers (67.9%) said they would choose a produce from a Natura 2000 site if it were not more expensive. 43.8% said they would buy them even if they were more expensive.