Project of the Year

An expert panel selects the Project of the Year from among all the projects of the month in a given year. Projects of the month are voted for by users of this website.

Project of the Year 2018

The project "Horses promote diversity" was selected as Project of the Year 2018. The immediate environment of horses offers enormous potential for promoting biodiversity. Stables, hay and straw, meadows and pastures are ideal habitats for many, partly endangered species. Barn swallows and bats in the stables, insects and birds on meadows and in hedges - horse husbandry offers nesting sites, food and habitat. Despite this good starting situation, there are still many ways to improve the biodiversity in horse farms. To encourage horse owner to make even better use of this potential, the German Equestrian Federation (FN), together with its cooperation partners, the biodiversity and sustainability consultant Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rösler (oecoach) and the Equestrian Sports Association Baden-Württemberg have started the project "Horses promote diversity". Based on a rapid biodiversity check and a catalog of measures, they support horse farms in developing additional actions to improve biodiversity. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze presented the prize endowed with 1,000 euros on 10 October 2018 as part of the 9th National Forum for Biological Diversity in Berlin.

Video presenting the project (German version)

Project of the Year 2017

This Cologne-based project "Ganz Köln im Spatzenfieber" ("Saving Sparrows in Cologne") involves specially devised activities and a call for citizens’ initiatives to create habitats primarily for house sparrows while ensuring that they will also benefit biodiversity as a whole. In cooperation with diverse partner organisations the City of Cologne launched a broad information and education campaign for the conservation of house sparrows. At ten selected Cologne schools, the schoolyards were adapted sparrow-friendly. A project guide derived from this should serve as a suggestion and example for other schools. A traveling exhibition, a photo competition and an annual calendar on the topic of sparrows were also created. For children, the book "Willi the sparrow" was developed and distributed free of charge at all primary schools in Cologne. A website provides information about the life style and habitat requirements of the sparrows and gives tips on how to help the birds with simple measures. At several locations throughout the city, private initiatives have been creating more sparrow habitats with support from the local council. Over the course of a year, additional sparrow habitats were created.

Short film on the UN Decade Project 2017

Project of the Year 2016

Nature in Grey Zones (Natur in graue Zonen) was chosen as the UN Decade Project 2016. From 2013 to 2016, the Bonn Science Shop (WILA Bonn) unsealed urban industrial sites and greened them to near-natural state in the model cities of Duisburg, Erfurt and Wiesloch. In performing this work, WILA collaborated with businesses, citizens’ foundations and landscape gardeners. During specially organised planting and greening days, biodiversity oases were created on unsealed land using native plants, dry walls and espalier trellises for fruit. These new green areas enhance quality of life and boost species diversity in urban spaces. Along with local inhabitants, employees of the companies involved had a hand in designing the green oases. They also had the opportunity to become oases sponsors by adopting trees and plants. The positive results achieved have shown that in many areas urban industrial sites can be unsealed and greened without impairing their actual function and to the benefit of society at large. The UN Decade Project 2016 award was presented by Federal Environment Minister Jochen Flasbarth on 31 January 2017 at the 8th National Forum on Biodiversity in Berlin.

Short film on the UN Decade Project 2016

Project of the Year 2015

The UN Decade Project 2015, Bringe Verborgenes ans Licht – Entdecke andere Arte” (Revealing Hidden Species), was announced at the 7th National Forum on Biological Diversity on 14 October 2015. Implemented by the Verband Deutscher Sporttaucher (German Sport Diving Association (VDST)), the project focuses on the distribution and impact of non-native species in German water bodies. These are affected by increased occurrence of invasive alien species, the associated displacement of native species and changes in available habitats. This can partly be attributed to the release of fish and other species from aquariums. An online platform contains information on the distribution of non-native species. Sport divers and others interested in the topic can use the platform to report their sightings, thus helping to protect and conserve German water bodies and the biodiversity they contain. The data is collated and presented in the form of a distribution map, which the project team uses in collaboration with researchers.

Project of the Year 2014

The inclusion project, Wir machen den Wald begreifbar (Discover and Sense the Forest), received the UN Decade Project 2014 accolade on 10 September 2014. The barrier-free trail built by the local chapter of YMCA Germany (CVJM Pfalz) brings the forest to life for people in the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Otterberg. With bushes and shrubs bearing fragrant blooms and edible fruit, bird song and a bare-foot path that can easily be traversed in a wheelchair, the forest discovery trail allows people with and without disabilities to discover and sense the forest by smelling, tasting and hearing it. Professor Beate Jessel, President of the Federal Agency for Nature Protection (BfN), welcomed the voluntary initiative: “The CVJM Pfalz forest education programme and its forest discovery trail play an important role in inclusion. They enable people with and without disabilities to explore the forest and the biodiversity it contains, and to actively shape the nature trail. The UN Decade Project 2014 award also recognises the voluntary work performed by the many people who made the project possible. My heartfelt congratulations to all concerned.”

Project of the Year 2013

As the first UN Decade Project of the year, the Freundeskreis Nationalpark Schwarzwald (Friends of the Blackforest National Park) received the award on 27 October 2013. The group collaborates with NABU Baden-Württemberg to enable people in the northern part of the Black Forest region to participate in an accessible way in the decision-making process to declare the forest a national park. Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier recognised the group’s exemplary engagement in establishing Baden-Württemberg’s first ever national park: “We need people who work hard for the biodiversity conservation cause, but are still willing to talk and enter into dialogue. I’d like to congratulate the Freundeskreis on receiving the UN Decade Project 2013 award. What better way to celebrate your success!”

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze hands over the award of the project of the year 2018 to the representatives of the project "Horses promote diversity". Photo: BMU / Florian
Annual Project 2017 "Saving Sparrows in Cologne" - Dr. Kilian Delbrück from the Federal Ministry for the Environment (4th from right) honoured the project. Photo: Akhlis Abbis
Secretary of State for Environment Jochen Flasbarth (left) honoured the UN Decade on Biodiversity project of the year 2016. Photo: BMUB/Florian Gärtner
Dr. Elsa Nickel, Head of Nature Conservation, BMUB (left) honoured the UN Decade Project 2015. | ©Ute Grabowski /
UN Decade Project 2014: BfN President, Professor Dr. Beate Jessel (right), presents the Diversity Tree Award to the project representatives. © Sylvia Reischert
From left to right: Karsten Dufft (German Olympic Confederation), Professor Dr. Hartmut Vogtmann (Deutscher Naturschutzring), Ingrid Eberhardt-Schad (NABU), Thomas Fritz (Freundeskreis), Dr. Elsa Nickel (Federal Environment Ministry). © UN-Dekade Biologische Vielfalt / Peter Himsel
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