The Natura 2000 Award finalists have now been announced. There are 22 finalists across the five award categories. Amongst the finalist are a number of projects involving Eurosite members, including Natuurmonumenten, Junta de Andalucia, and Natuurpunt.

Natuurmonumenten was a lead partner, along with PWN, on the ‘Daring Dutch: restoring the dynamic dunes’ project, which oversaw the restoration of coastal dunes at Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. The dunes play a vital role in protecting the surrounding low-lying areas from the sea. Traditionally, the dunes have been restricted, however, the project has once again “freed” the dune, allowing them drift naturally with the wind and creating a dynamic dune landscape. Monitoring following the 2013 storm season showed that the project has been a success. Natuurmonumenten’s Tiengemeten Island project has also been shortlisted. The project, which ran between 2006-2012, involved turning the island, which was traditionally an agricultural region, into a site for nature and people, whilst also preserving the island’s cultural heritage. The island now has facilities such as trails, a car park, a ferry service and a museum, and in 2013, Tiengemeten received 50,000 visitors.

Another award finalist and Eurosite member-led project is the Iberian Lynx reintroduction programme, which was overseen and executed by Junta de Andalucia, Consejería de Medio Ambiente (Government of Andalucia, Department of the Environment). The programme successfully released 66 Iberian Lynx – a critically endangered species – into the Guadalmellato and Guarrizas areas of Spain.

Last, but not least, the 3WATER project, for which Natuurpunt was a collaborator, has been shortlisted. The project targeted bitterns and tree frogs in the Midden Limburg region of Belgium, using an innovative approach. 3WATER involved cooperation between private and public landowners, and used the 3E (Economy, Ecology, and Education) approach in order to take into account the needs of nature, business and tourism, both now and in the future. Project initiatives include habitat restoration, signs and notices, visitor days, a documentary, and an education package for local schools.

Eurosite would like to extend our congratulations to our members and their project partners – and to all the Natura 2000 Award finalists!

The five winners will be announced at the Award Ceremony in Brussels on 21 May. You can register here.

If you are a Eurosite member involved in a project that was shortlisted and we have not mentioned you, please let us know at info@www.eurosite.org