WWF-Bulgaria project receives 2016 Natura 2000 Award | WWF
WWF-Bulgaria project receives 2016 Natura 2000 Award

Posted on 25 May 2016

It won in the category Socio-economic benefits
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The project “For the Balkans and the People: Nature Protection and Sustainable Rural Development” implemented in 9 Natura 2000 areas by 11 partners, WWF-Bulgaria among them, won the 2016 European Natura 2000 award in the category Socio-economic benefits. The award was given by the European Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella during a ceremony that took place on 23 May in Brussels.

Another project with the participation of WWF-Finland and BirdLife Bulgaria won the Natura 2000 Award in the category Cross-border cooperation and Networking. You can read more about the project here. Yet a third project implemented by WWF-Austria, WWF-Bulgaria and WWF-Romania -- “Sturgeons: Protect Danube’s treasure” -- was a finalist in the Communications category and received a diploma during the ceremony. You can find out more on this project here.

The Natura 2000 Award is pan-European and recognises excellence in the conservation and management of Natura 2000 sites. It is given each year in five categories that showcase the best successes in preserving Europe’s nature - Conservation, Socio-Economic Benefits, Communication, Reconciling Interests/ Perceptions and Cross-Border Cooperation and Networking. A sixth, citizens’ award, is won by an online public vote.

The project “For the Balkans and the People: Nature Protection and Sustainable Rural Development” is implemented in the Central and Western Balkan Mountains by 6 Bulgarian nature organizations, WWF-Bulgaria among them, 4 Swiss organizations and the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Its aim is to tackle unemployment and depopulation in some of the poorest areas of Europe in the Western and Central Balkan Mountains by setting up payment schemes (Payments for Ecosystem Services) for enterprises in the area that help protect nature, as well as by promoting their products. The project began in 2012 and will run until 2017.

The two awards come at the time of a concerted smear campaign against nature NGOs in Bulgaria that has been going on for the past year and apparently aims to gain public support for construction in protected areas.  
The project "For the Balkans and the People" received the 2016 Natura 2000 award in the category Socio-economic benefits. On the photo (left to right): Radostina Tzenova, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, Vesselina Kavrakova, WWF-Bulgaria Director, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Jury member Jeremy Wates (European Environmental Bureau)
© European Commission
The WWF DCP project "Sturgeons: Protect Danube’s treasure” was a finalist in the Natura 2000 Award Communications category and received a diploma.
© European Commission