Natura 2000 Award, and why nature is the best teacher

Image: Blaise Vonlanthen /

Almost one fifth of Europe’s land area and much of its seas belong to Natura 2000, a network using innovative approaches to preserve rare habitats and species. But despite its impact, many Europeans have never even heard of it. To change this, the Natura 2000 Award aims to demonstrate the network’s value and rewards some of the strongest initiatives. This year’s finalists include three educational projects!

The Natura 2000 Award has given credit to outstanding initiatives since it was launched four years ago; now, in 2018, the spotlight falls on 25 finalists, selected from 75 eligible applications.

Among these finalists is School of Nature in Portugal, an educational project aiming to draw attention to the three Natura 2000 sites in Viana do Castelo. In addition to its field activities and training courses, the project developed an exhibition, an educational catalogue, activity books, and educational tools for different age levels, such as downloadable species identification sheets and observation cards.

Another notable finalist is Natura 2000: Connecting People with Biodiversity from Spain. It has raised awareness of Natura 2000 through various means, including Focus Natura, a website for youth and teachers showing how contact with the network’s birds and nature can boost concentration.

Lastly, the French finalist Etang de Mauguio was the subject of a travelling exhibition by and for children. It was prepared by schools from the surrounding districts, and it reached an estimated 8,300 people, including 700 students.

Etang de Mauguio exhibition

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony in Brussels on 17 May 2018. You can register to attend the ceremony or follow it online.