About the Project

The project “European Capitals of Biodiversity” drew attention to the various green spaces and urban habitats: Gardens and parks, rivers and small forests, old buildings and walls, fallow land and other often small niches provide manifold living space for an unexpectedly rich biodiversity. This urban nature is also the first or even the only contact to nature for many citizens as they live far away from natural habitats.

Municipalities can do a lot to protect biodiversity and to provide healthy and livable surroundings for current citizens and future generations. The project „Capitals of Biodiversity“ honours and highlights those aware and committed municipalities and communicates their performance on a national and European level.

Two competition rounds were implemented in 2010 and 2011. Municipalities of all sizes in France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain were invited to join. The winners were honoured on the national, European and even international level. Each competition was accompanies by a training programme for local practitioners. Know-how and experiences in municipal biodiversity issues were transferred in workshops and brochures.

The project was led by Deutsche Umwelthilfe, a German NGO with over 20 years experience in environmental competitions for municipalities. The competitions in the five countries were implemented by Natureparif (France), Lake Balaton Development Coordination Agency (Hungary), Fundación Biodiversidad (Spain) and the Regional Environmental Center Slovakia. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and ICLEI European Secretariat were international partners of the project. 

The project “European Capitals of Biodiversity” was funded with the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community from 2009 to 2011.



Advisory Board

The Advisory Board at the first meeting in Madrid in September 2009.


The Advisory Board of the project was a team of external experts from various backgrounds and countries. Their role within the project was to:

  • Give advice to the project team in all matters concerning the progress of the project;
  • Support the communication of the project; and
  • Monitor and evaluate the project.


The Members of the Advisory Board were:

  • Prof. Philippe Clergeau, National Museum of Natural History, France;
  • Oliver Hillel, Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada;
  • Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Germany;
  • Prof. Dr. Dittmar Machule, Foundation for Vibrant Cities, Germany;
  • Amrit Mediratta, Council of Europe, Great Britain;
  • Pavlína Mišíková, Ministry of Environment, Slovak Republic;
  • Dr. Zsolt Szilvácsku, Respect Consulting Ltd., Corvinus University, Hungary.



Objectives of the project

Principal objective of the project was to increase nature and biodiversity protection in urban areas by local authorities in Europe.

Specific objectives of the project were:

  • To support and motivate initiatives of local authorities regarding nature protection and conservation of biodiversity in Europe by organising competitions for municipalities;
  • To improve the successful German competition model and to transfer the experience to four other European countries (Spain, Slovakia, Hungary and France);
  • To support local authorities to fulfil legal compliance regarding nature and biodiversity protection;
  • To inform local authorities about their possibilities regarding nature and biodiversity protection;
  • To promote the extension and accessibility of green areas;
  • To establish a common biodiversity monitoring system among participating municipalities;
  • To inform and sensitize citizens regarding nature protection and conservation of biodiversity and the importance of their collaboration.



Outcomes and results

This is a selection of the outcomes and results of the project:

  • Two national competitions implemented in France, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain (2010 and 2011), one in Germany (2010/2011);
  • Monitoring system developed for local authorities to monitor local biodiversity; it was based on the CBD City Biodiversity Index and is available in six European languages;
  • Competition material German, Spanish, Hungarian, French and Slovak, draft versions also in English;
  • 520 municipalities participated in the competitions 2010 and/or 2011 in their respective country;
  • 36 training workshops for local authorities with some 1,500 participants in five countries;
  • Project brochure published in six languages with positive examples of, and very practical information for, local authorities in all European countries;
  • Some 900 articles and reports published in various European countries about the award and the background (= importance of biodiversity);
  • Comprehensive Train-the-Trainer-programme to enable organisations from all European countries to organise similar competitions for municipalities.