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Environment Policy

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Conservation of natural habitats and of wild
flora and fauna of Community and (for candidate
countries) international interest



Regulation (EC) No 1655/2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 July 2000 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE), OJ L192 of 28.7.2000.


Legal References

  • Council Regulation (EEC) No 1973/92 of 21 May 1992 establishing a Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE), OJ L206, 22.07.1992, amended by Regulation (EC) No 1404/96, OJ L 181, 20.07.1996,

  • Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds OJ L 103, 25.04.79 as last amended by Council Directive 97/49/EC, OJ L 223, 13.08.1997, p. 9

  • Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna OJ L 206, 22.07.1992 Directive as last amended by Council Directive 97/62/EC, OJ L 305, 8.11.1997, p.42



The purpose of LIFE-Nature is to contribute to the maintenance or restoration of natural habitats and the population of species of wild fauna and flora. More specifically, it aims to contribute to the implementation of the “Birds” (79/409/EEC) and “Habitats” (92/43/EEC) Community directives and, in particular, to the establishment of the European network of protected areas - NATURA 2000 - aiming at the on-site management and conservation of the most valuable fauna and flora species and habitats in the Union.

In the Candidate countries associated to LIFE, LIFE- Nature shall have similar objectives, applied to sites of international importance. It shall also pave the way towards setting up NATURA 2000 in those countries.


Target Public / beneficiaries

All natural and legal persons established in the European Union who wish to propose and implement projects within the territory of the Member States.

It is also open to the Accession Candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe in accordance with the conditions referred to in the Association agreements concluded with those countries and on the basis of provisions of the decision of the Association Council competent for each country concerned. The Candidate countries are: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic.



All projects shall be submitted to the national competent authorities at the latest by 30 September 2000.

Projects will then be submitted by the national authorities to the Commission at the latest by 31 October 2000.

The Commission shall fix annually the date of forwarding proposals.


Eligible measures / nature of activities

The following projects and/or measures shall be considered eligible for funding under LIFE-Nature:

1. Nature conservation projects which contribute to maintaining or restoring natural habitats and/or species populations to a favourable conservation status within the meaning of Directive 92/43/EEC.

    Projects submitted under LIFE within the European territory of the Member States must aim at the conservation of:

    • One (or more) natural site(s) proposed by the Member State as sites of Community importance (SCI) under the Habitats Directive,

    • One (or more) natural site(s) designated by the Member State as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Birds Directive,

    • One (or more) species of natural fauna or flora of the Habitats Directive - annexes II or IV and/or of the Birds Directive - annex I.

    Projects in the Accession Candidate Countries shall be considered for financial support only if they meet the following criteria:

    • projects which contribute to the conservation of one or more site(s) of international importance hosting a type of habitat identified (by the Community or the Bern Convention - n° 4 and n° 6) as being in need of specific conservation measures;

    • projects which contribute to the conservation of one or more site(s) of international importance hosting a bird species identified (by the Community or the Bern Convention - n° 4 and n° 6) as being in need of specific conservation measures;

    • one or more species identified under the Habitats directive or Birds Directive or by the Bern Convention as being in need of specific conservation measures.

2. Accompanying measures which lead to the preparation of projects involving partners in several Member States (‘starter’ measure); exchanges of experiences between projects (‘co-op’ measure) and the monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of the results of projects (‘assist’ measure). These projects will be the subject of a separate call for interest.


Rural dimension/Example of action in rural area

Rhön Biotope region - Building Block for Natura 2000
(LIFE98 NAT/D/005064)

Lakeside overdevelopment and hunting continue to threaten the natural balance and diversity of the western shores of Lake Constance despite the designation of much of the area as SCIs and SPAs. Furthermore, intensive farming and biotope drainage which had been practised in this area in the past, have negatively altered the face of the region. This project, which runs from 1 October 1999 to 1 October 2003, aims to restore calm to the area by eliminating sources of interference. Car parks, moorings and bathing areas will be relocated and cut back, hunting concessions will not be renewed.

The remains of riverside forests will be allowed to flourish once more while the Laddfzeller Aach river will be restored to its natural course. The project is being supported by a range of bodies: three municipal authorities, the local water authority and forest office, the Lands Historic Monument office and NABU (Nature, Species, Biotope and Environmental Protection Association). Their primary objective is to ensure the continuing improvement of a sound balance between nature conservation and tourism. The project has been awarded 50% of its eligible costs under LIFE-Nature funding which amounts to EUR 1, 009 290.17. More information on all LIFE- Nature projects financed so far may be found at:


Nature and amount of financial support

Financial assistance shall be provided by co-financing of projects and accompanying measures and is subject to the following limits:

  • 50% of the total eligible costs for nature conservation projects;

  • On an exceptional basis, 75% of the total eligible costs for projects dealing with priority habitats or species in Objective 1 areas or if proponent is a NGO. For projects aimed at the continuation of previous LIFE-Nature projects, an upper limit of 40% (non-priority habitat/species) or 60% (priority habitats/species within Objective 1 areas or if the applicant is an NGO) and 50% (for all other projects aimed at priority habitats/species) will be applied;

  • 100% of the total eligible costs for accompanying measures.

Projects, which benefit or will benefit from aid under another Community budgetary instrument (Structural funds, Cohesion funds), are not eligible under LIFE-Nature.


European Union funding

Of the total budget for the third phase of LIFE 2000-2004 (EUR 640 m), 47% has been earmarked for LIFE-Nature.



Nature conservation projects must be presented to the competent national authority before 30 September 2000. The Member States or Candidate countries shall then submit proposals for projects to the Commission before the final date of submission (31 October 2000).

When more than one country is involved in the project, the country in which the project co-ordinating body is located shall forward proposals. The “Nature Protection Unit” of the Environment Directorate General is responsible for the evaluation process.

During the implementation process, the project co-ordinators are obliged to provide the Commission with:

  • One or more intermediate reports which will cover activities undertaken up until 2 months before their submission to the Commission,

  • A final report not later than 3 months after the completion date of the project,

  • At any time, information can be requested concerning the management of the project.

These reports must be presented to the Commission and the external project monitoring team designated by the Commission. The Commission is assisted by the external teams to ensure the correct implementation of the LIFE projects.

Accompanying measures shall be the subject of calls for expressions of interest to be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.


Communication support

  • LIFE-Nature Application file 2000 can be obtained directly from the National Authorities in the Member States and Central and Eastern European Countries or from the Commission. Available languages: Spanish, Danish, German, Greek, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish.

    It can also be downloaded from the Commission’s web site at the following address:

  • A step by step guide to prepare a project proposal is available from the Commission or at the following Internet address:
    Available languages: English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and French.

  • NATURA 2000 standard data forms and maps for the targeted sites (only for Member States) can be obtained from the national competent authorities listed at:


Additional Sources of Information

  • European Commission
    DG Environment
    Unit ENV.D.2
    BU-9 3/204
    200, rue de la Loi
    B-1049 BRUSSELS
    Fax: +32 2 296 95 56

    A list of the National Authorities competent for nature can be found in the LIFE-Nature Application File 2000.

The addresses for the External Teams for LIFE-Nature Conservation are as follows:

  • For Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary:

    11 rue Beckers
    B-1040 Brussels
    Tel: +32 02 646 69 50
    Fax: +32 02 646 84 66

  • For France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia:

    207-209 bte 8, avenue Louise,
    B-1050 Brussels

Local branches:

  • Spain - Portugal - Romania:
    Isla de la Troja, 2
    E-28400 Villaiba-Madrid
    Tel: +34 91 849 08 04
    Fax: +34 91 849 14 68

  • France - Greece:
    3 bis, rue des Remises
    F-94100 Saint-Maur-des-Fossés
    Tel: +33 1 45 11 24 30
    Fax: +33 1 45 11 24 37

  • Italy - Slovenia:
    Via della Lungara 1-3, INT 65
    I-00165 Roma
    Tel: +39 06 580 60 70
    Fax: +39 06 581 43 70


date of publication: 09/2000

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