We Mark the European Day of the Network of Protected Areas Natura 2000

19 May, 2023 | 14:04

On 21 May 2023 we celebrate 31 years since the establishment of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas in the European Union (EU). The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) is once again taking part in the European Natura 2000 Day.

The European Commission, in partnership with the Observation.org platform, is organizing “Natura 2000 Day 2023 BioBlitz” in 18 protected areas in 18 EU Member States. The European “Natura 2000 BioBlitz Day” will take place on 21 May and Bulgaria will participate with the territory of the Central Balkan National Park, which is designated as a protected area under the Birds and Habitats Directives. At https://observation.org/bioblitz/categories/natura-2000-day-2023/ users can find information about this year’s participants. During the BioBlitz, participants are to look for as many species of plants or animals as possible in a certain area within a certain period of time. Interested participants should register on the Obsidentify platform. To upload their observations, participants only need a photo with information on the location. The software will automatically recognize the photo material and suggest several options for the plant or animal species from which the participant would choose the most suitable, and a team of experts will check and verify the observations. All the information collected on the platform will be available to the public on 21 May.

The European Commission is also inviting applications for the European Natura 2000 Award. This year’s seventh edition will be open for entries at https://environment.ec.europa.eu/topics/nature-and-biodiversity/natura-2000-award_en from 22 May to 29 September 2023. The Natura 2000 Award recognizes organizations or individuals with conservation success in 5 categories: cross-border cooperation, working together for nature, communication, marine conservation, and terrestrial conservation. There is also a Citizens’ Award, which gives the general public the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist. Any organization or person involved in Natura 2000 can apply for the awards, including national and local authorities, businesses, NGOs, educational institutions, individuals, etc. In last year’s edition of the Natura 2000 Awards, the Bulgarian information project “Natura 2000 in Bulgaria: New Horizons”, implemented by the Green Balkans, won the prize in the Communication category.

The regional environmental and water inspectorates, the directorates of the national parks, the basin directorates and the Executive Environmental Agency celebrate the anniversary with various initiatives and events - information days, open lessons, trainings, cleaning of protected areas, exhibitions, carnival procession, creative competitions for children and students. The events present the management policy and raise public awareness of the importance of protecting and maintaining the Natura 2000 ecological network in Bulgaria. The program can be found HERE.

On 21 May 1992 the EU Habitats Directive was adopted and the LIFE program was approved. This Directive, together with the EU Birds Directive (adopted in 1979), created the EU network of protected areas called Natura 2000. To celebrate the creation of the Natura 2000 network and to honor the efforts of all those who have contributed to its management, 21 May was designated as European Natura 2000 Day in a special Declaration signed in 2017 by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Presidency of the Council of the EU, and the Committee of the Regions.