The 9th European Greenways Awards have been given during the official ceremony in Dikli

19.09.2019
Six greenways from Latvia, Estonia, Czechia, Austria and Spain were awarded as reference of best practices in Europe.
The Award ceremony was held in Dikli, Vidzeme region (Latvia), and had the participation of the Jānis Bordāns  Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Justice and Talis Linkaits Minister for Transport and other authorities. Some 80 delegates from 10 countries enjoyed the beautiful and moving award ceremony in Dikli Palace. Final Conference Greenways Heritage and visit by bike to Green Railways greenways network, including the opening of the first ever EGWA Bridge, completed a full and very attractive agenda. The European Greenways Award was created in 2003 and has been held every two years since, to recognize greenway projects that stand out for their excellence and demonstration of best practice. In this edition the international jury met in Brussels on 10 July 2019, has awarded projects in two categories: “Excellence”, “Exemplary Initiatives” and one Special award (*), to recognize an Innovative action or product to improve the info and experience for tourists.  

1st prize Excellence: Green Railways in Latvia and Estonia.
Presented by Vidzeme Tourism Association/Vidzeme region (Latvia).
For the first extensive greenways network in Northern Latvia and Southern Estonia. In a very short time (less than 3 years), a network about 300 km long has been created, using the former railway lines to enhance the value of the history and heritage of the railway. Great results based on excellent cross border cooperation and a comprehensive, meaningful public-private partnership, including some 90 non-profit agreements with private landowners, as well as the railway company and forest agency. Green Railways has also established the bases for further development of greenways in the Baltic area.
 
1st prize Exemplary Initiatives:  Promotion of the Iron Mountains Greenway /  Vía Verde Montes de Hierro-Burdinmendi.

Special Award Category (*) – Innovative Action / Product. “Vías Verdes españolas y Red Natura 2000”

2nd prize Excellence: "Cyklostezka Sázava"

2nd Prize Exemplary Initiatives: Girona Greenways – interpretation and enjoyment for all – VISUAL ACCESS

3rd Prize Excellence: Ybbstalradweg (Ybbs Valley cycle path).
 
Thanks to the Green Railway project, its promoters, a consortium of public administrations led by the Latvian Greenways Association, have managed to recover 300 km of disused old narrow railways, as greenways, in northern Latvia and southern Estonia. They had to build or rebuild new bridges and footbridges for pedestrians and cyclists, because some were collapsed, others were very damaged by the passing of time. One of the new bridges over the Briede River, the most beautiful for our hosts, has been named EGWA Bridge in recognition of the support and inspiration of the European Greenways Association to launch the greenways initiative in Latvia and the realization of this project. The official inauguration of the bridge was held on the occasion of the 9th European Greenways Award and we are very pleased to have an EGWA bridge in Latvia!
 
The final conference of the Greenways Heritage project has been organized also on 5th September in coincidence with the Gala Dinner of the European Greenways awards in Dikļi Palace, that is one of the most historic and beautiful palaces in Latvia. It is located about 20 km away from Valmiera city, very close from the new greenways network GreenRailway and the Mound Neikenkalns and the Nature Concert Hall (in the photo). This last one, the place where one of the most wonderful Latvian traditions – the Song Festival – was started is now home to the nature concert hall, and we all the participants at the study visit by bike were delighted to discover this magnetic place, so well integrated in such beautiful surrounding.