BUZICA, a municipality southwest of Košice in eastern Slovakia, was given the “European Stork Village” award by the German environmental foundation EuroNatur. The title has been awarded annually since 1994, each time to a different country.

Buzica mayor Jozef Mohňanský received the award on April 12.

“At the moment, we have 15 occupied stork nests, but in about two to three weeks more storks will arrive in the village,” Mohňanský told the TASR newswire. “In 2013, 11 breeding couples were recorded.”

Storks nest in the village centre on electricity poles and artificial breeding platforms raised by local authorities. The village holds an annual festival for the arrival of the storks and has kept a stork census since 1976. Buzica is one of Slo- vakia’s three most important white stork nesting areas, situated partly in the Košice Plain Protected Bird Area, which was established on January 7, 2008 by the Slovak Environment Ministry. Mohňan-ský opined that storks are drawn to the area by an abundance of food due to the wet environment, as well as the inhabitants’ efforts to ensure the area is free of dangerous waste.

The EuroNatur foundation started the initiative to strengthen the stork conservation network and to make these grounds internationally known for their special heritage and to hold up their commitment as an example to others, its website states. Buzica is the 13th location to be awarded. An awarded village may have the most breeding pairs in its country, or a rapidly increasing stork population. The award also considers the attitude of the local government and residents.