Civil society plays a crucial role in the establishment and management of the Natura 2000 network. Especially the organisations dealing with environmental issues are essential when it comes to the implementation of Natura 2000. They are the link with the citizens living in such areas and the partners of the Government in the process of establishing the Natura 2000 areas and making sure that the measures are correctly implemented.
Civil society organisations should lead conservation projects, as well as best practices for land management. The Land Stewardship Network is one of the most effective mechanisms to balance nature conservation with land use in several countries. It is a strategy to involve landowners and users in nature and landscape conservation with the support of a wide variety of civil society agents. Through voluntary agreements between property owners and users and stewardship entities, the intention is to maintain or restore the nature and landscape values. The Land Stewardship is especially useful in those places where the objective is not absolute protection but relatively sustainable management of natural resources. In its broadest and most straightforward sense, the concept of stewardship can be understood as “people who take care of the land”. The term encompasses a wide variety of public and private approaches to creating and reinforcing the responsibility of people and institutions that own and use the land to conserve and manage natural resources.
In Europe, land stewardship is already used to implement and complement numerous policies and legal instruments related to biodiversity conservation. In addition, you can contribute to creating new opportunities and ways of working in the field of nature conservation across Europe. In short, it is proposed as a tool to help conserve and recover biodiversity with the direct involvement of people and civil society.
Also, non-governmental and civil society organisations are eligible for several funding programs to implement conservation projects as well as other projects related to the Natura 2000 management. They may be eligible for funding, provided they are active in EU policy areas and non-profit. Others, as researchers, are also eligible for different programs, highlighting from the European Union the Horizon 2020 Programme. This funding usually takes the form of grants to part-finance a broad range of research projects.