EUROPARC Spain among the finalists of the Natura 2000 Awards

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EUROPARC Spain is among the finalists of the Natura 2000 Awards, an award of the European Commission that recognizes the time, dedication and efforts Europeans invested in nature protection within the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. On May 17th, the European Commission will award 5 initiatives in a ceremony that will take place in Brussels – but you have also the chance to vote for your preferred project!

A commitment to make sports activities in the Natura 2000 Network compatible with the preservation of biodiversity values

The Government of the Balearic Islands and EUROPARC Spain are finalists in the category “conciliation of interests” with the joint application “Sports activities in the Natura 2000 Network: reconciling interests in Menorca“.

After the publication of the “Guide to good practices for holding mountain races in protected natural areas“ (also available in English), the Government of the Balearic Islands adopted a legal Circular requiring all sports activities in Natura 2000 to be evaluated using the handbook.  The circular was then applied to the 12ª Mountain Bike Tour in Menorca (August 2017) – a major cycling competition that attracts over 500 participants but as it follows a pre-existing coastal path, it also crosses no less than 9 Natura 2000 sites on the island, and so runs a considerable risk of causing species disturbance and habitat damage within the sites.


However, thanks to the handbook, solutions were found to minimize any conflicts with Natura 2000 whilst maintaining the enjoyment of the circuit.

The growth of sports events in Natura 2000 sites, has generated a new scenario of pressures and impacts on especially sensitive and fragile natural spaces. Making environmental and social sustainability compatible with sports events is a great challenge for the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Fisheries of the Balearic Islands.

Mountain biker in the Menorca Race

The collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Sports has resulted in clear technical criteria for the organization of mountain races, that facilitated the work of the event organizers, whilst ensuring the conservation of itineraries, habitats and species of community interest. The criteria have been agreed with the sports federations of the Balearic Islands involved in mountain races and with the promoters and clubs involved.

European Citizen’s Award: you can choose the winner!

The finalists in five categories – Conservation, Socio-Economic Benefits, Communication, Reconciling Interests/Perceptions, and Cross-Border Cooperation and Networking – will now be assessed by an independent jury. Meanwhile, everyone is invited to vote for his or her favourite finalist to win the European Citizens’ Award.

Online voting closes on 22 April 2018. The winners will be announced in a ceremony hosted by Commissioner Vella in Brussels on Thursday 17 May 2018. The event is open to the press and the public. Please register online if you wish to attend.

Background of the European Natura 2000 Awards

Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy. Established under the EU’s Birds Directive and Habitats Directive, it is an EU-wide network of over 27 000 terrestrial and marine sites, covering more than 18 % of land area and 7% of the surrounding seas.