The Thuringian network of 12 Natura 2000 stations was launched in 2016. Its aim was to develop a local network to assist with the management of almost 3 000 Natura 2000 sites in Thuringa and enhance the conservation status of their target species and habitats across the region. The stations act as an interface between administrative and volunteer conservation, land users, agricultural authorities and the public. They are distributed all over Thuringia. Nine stations are active in their respective regions and three work across the regions specialising in conservation activities for moors and wetlands, woodlands, and protection of European hamster and bat species.
The 12 stations are all run by NGOs who are well-rooted in their respective regions and have a long experience of nature conservation in the area. They ensure the implementation of the Natura 2000 management plans and provide advice to land-users and local communities in conceiving and implementing Natura 2000 relate activities as well as specific biotope and species conservation projects. The stations also aim to increase acceptance of Natura 2000 by undertaking a wide range of public relations activities and targeted information for land owners and users, as well as developing environmental education tools for both the public and experts. They help applying for agri-environment and Natura 2000 compensation payment schemes, where needed.
Funded by the Thuringian Ministry of Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation in partnership with 13 NGOs, the station network is coordinated by the Natura 2000 centre of excellence in Erfurt, co-funded by “Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt. It is operated by “BUND Thüringen“, “Deutscher Verband für Landschaftspflege“, and “NABU Thüringen“, all of which are registered charity associations.
39 nature and landscape projects have been developed and funded so far for a total of € 8.1 million. Two conferences have been organised together with the State Office for Environment, Mining and Nature Conservation and two editions of the national Natura 2000 Farmer Awards have been held, demonstrating the success of the initiative.