French hunters from Lozère are the winners of the « socio-economic benefits » category of the Natura 2000 Award 2016

On Thursday the 21st of May, the European Commission hosted the second Natura 2000 award Ceremony in Brussels which aims to recognise excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation achievements, showcasing the added value for local economies, and increasing public awareness of Europe’s valuable natural heritage.

Twenty-three finalists were nominated amongst five categories: conservation, socio-economic benefits, communication, reconciling interest/perception and, cross-border cooperation and networking. Thereafter, a jury selected one winner per category which was officially announced during the ceremony.

This year, the French Hunting Federation of Lozère, under the joint association of the Syndicat mixte du Grand Site des Gorges du Tarn, de la Jonte et des Causses, and their project “Vultures : many benefits between nature and culture” won the award for the socio-economic category.

Indeed, 25 breeding bird species of community interest, including four species of vultures, are real economic and cultural vectors of this region of the Grands Causses, recognized since 2011 as world heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

About the project

In 2008, the Hunting Departmental Federation of Lozere was designated as the body in charge of the agro-pastoralism management and communication on actions conducted on the Natura 2000 site “Gorges du Tarn et de la Jonte” (in southern France).

One of the Federation’s responsibilities is to install confidence while providing a positive dynamic between all actors involved (farmers, hunters, naturalists, foresters,…) so that they work together following the same objective.

Amongst the usual activities such as diagnostic, populations monitoring and objectives’ definition, various information and thematic meetings were organised with different groups of interest with the aim of finding common interest while identifying the issues related to the Natura 2000 site management. General communication and education activities were also organised in order to reach the general public such as field trips for students and schools.

The Hunting Federation of Lozère has provided a specific focus on tourism development and agro-pastoralism management with the objective of combining both nature conservation and socio-economic outcomes.

The conservation of vultures was also a priority for which they engaged farmers (in maintaining open habitats through sheep grazing and shrub control, setting up feeding posts, etc.) and hunters (habitats restoration and management) in the process while showing them the resulting economic benefits.

With time, the vultures have become a ‘Made in Lozère’ trademark and a motivation for the site management. Around 600 operational accommodation facilities for tourists have been created in the area and more than 30,000 people visited the Vulture House information centre. Finally, local products are also publicised to visitors such as the local “Vulture beer” (La Feuve). 

This project has been recognised as a great example demonstrating that nature conservation go hand in hand with economic development, and that hunters are part of the solution.

In addition to a financial support for their future conservation efforts, the winner will receive the support from the Commission for organising local promotional events in their countries.

This Natura 2000 award is recognized at european level the work in that territory by all partners for over thirty years. There is also an additional opportunity to appreciate and value the direct and indirect effects of natural heritage on identity and local development of the region.

Congratulations to the winners!

For more information:


  • Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs de la Lozère Maison de la chasse et de la nature 56, route du Chapitre 48000 MENDE

Tel : 04-66-65-75-85 ; Fax : 04-66-65-75-90 ; Mail : ;


  • Syndicat mixte du Grand Site des Gorges du Tarn, de la Jonte et des Causses

Mairie de Ste-Enimie ; Tel : 04 66 48 47 95 ; Mail :  

Website (in French)