Second round of “European Capitals of Biodiversity” launched: local authorities compete for biodiversity crowns (copy 1)

8th February 2011; Bratislava, Madrid, Paris, Radolfzell, Siófok:  In 2011, municipalities from France, Spain, Slovakia and Hungary will once again have the chance to become the national “Capital of Biodiversity”. Yesterday in Paris, 150 attendees gathered to celebrate the launch of the last of the four national competitions. In autumn this year, Europe will have found four new capitals of biodiversity, and the top ranking municipalities will be honoured and highlighted in national and international events.

As the United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests, one of the competitions‘ focal topic will be biodiversity-friendly management and use of all types of forests.

The competitions reward villages, towns and cities for innovation, commitment and excellence in preserving the wealth of nature. In addition, municipalities are also provided with capacity building and management tools for local biodiversity preservation. In 2010, over 330 municipalities from small villages to large cities participated in the competitions by filling out a comprehensive questionnaire covering all aspects of local biodiversity preservation. The winners in 2010 were Grande Synthe (France), Tata (Hungary), The Royal Site of San Ildefonso (Spain), Želiezovce (Slovakia) and a German winner still to be announced.

The competitions aim to highlight the potential for local level actors to stop the loss of biodiversity in Europe and indeed, worldwide. There is a wide variety of biodiversity within many European cities, towns and villages. This is due to the range of habitats available: gardens and parks, rivers and small forests, old buildings and walls, fallow land and many others. For many people this is their first, or even their only, contact with nature because they live and work far from bigger natural habitats more commonplace in rural areas. Therefore, local authorities – from the smallest village to the largest city –are key players in conserving biodiversity, and in increasing public awareness for the need to do so.

About the project

The project  “European Capitals of Biodiversity”  is led by German Environmental Aid (Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.), a German NGO with more than 20 years of experience in environmental competitions for municipalities. The competitions in the five countries are implemented by Natureparif (France), Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency (Hungary), Fundación Biodiversidad (Spain), the Regional Environmental Center (Slovakia) and German Environmental Aid (Germany). IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and ICLEI European Secretariat are international partners of the project. More organisations from other European countries are envisioned to join and establish competitions in their respective countries within the next years.

Local authorities are judged in different size classes and thematic categories including municipal green spaces, planning instruments, protection of species and ecosystems,  agriculture and forestry,  water management, organisation and cooperation, communication and environmental education. The competitions are accompanied by a series of workshops in each country and the release of printed brochures to present strategies and best-practice examples from the participating municipalities.

The project is supported through LIFE, a programme of the European Union.
More information is available on


Robert Spreter, Head of dept. „Environmental Protection in Municipalities“, Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V., Fritz-Reichle-Ring 4, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 9995 -30, Fax: +49 (0)7732 9995 -77, Mobil: +49 (0)151 55016959,