BirdLife Spain receives top European award
Campo de Montiel, a Natura 2000 site in the Spanish region of Castile-La Mancha, has today played host to a celebration of the Natura 2000 Awards (European Citizen category) which has been jointly presented to SEO/BirdLife, Agencia EFE and BirdLife Europe as a result of their campaign ‘‘Natura 2000 Day’’.
The new Director-General for the European Commission’s Environment Directorate, Daniel Calleja Crespo, today visited the site to hand over the award in person. Politicians and people who live or work in Nature 2000 sites also joined in at the event to show their support for this key European network of protected areas.
It comes at a crucial time for the network as the laws that created it, the Birds and Habitats Directives, are currently under a ‘Fitness Check’ review by the European Commission. This is happening within the worrying context of Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, hoping to “merge and overhaul” the directives in order to make them more “business friendly”.
As part of today’s celebrations, three marsh harriers were released back into the wild, following their rehabilitation in a nearby wildlife sanctuary. Natura 2000 producers also donated a range of local products to be served during the event, underlining the importance of these sites to local communities.
Today’s event reminds us of the economic and ecological benefits we enjoy from this network and the need to further implement nature protection laws to safeguard Europe’s natural wealth.
 Natura 2000 Day (21 May) is the first campaign that encourages EU citizens to get to know and support the Natura 2000 network. The campaign called for participation by asking the public to do a simple gesture and take a photo in favour of the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. For the last three years, Natura 2000 Day has already been celebrated in 24 EU countries and more than 20,000 people have made the butterfly gesture to show their support. Natura 2000 Day is part of the LIFE+ project Activa Tu Auténtica Riqueza: Natura 2000 – led by SEO/BirdLife with the support of news agency EFE and BirdLife Europe.