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LIFE is the EU's financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 4 171 projects, contributing approximately €3.4 billion euros to the protection of the environment and climate. Read more >>

LIFE funding 2015: Provisional timetable for call for proposals

06 February 2015 Although the 2015 call for proposals for LIFE action grants has yet to be published, an indicative timetable for the Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes is now available from the LIFE website. It details the provisional opening and closing dates for each type of grant.

 

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Respecting Europe's natural heritage on Natura 2000 Day

Natura 2000 Day

21 May 2015All across Europe today [21 May] events are being held in honour of the third annual Natura 2000 Day. The day was established by Spanish LIFE project, LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000 (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665), to spread awareness of the importance of Natura 2000, the largest network of protected sites in the world.

Recognising the significance of even the smallest acts, the interlocked thumbs ‘butterfly’s wings’ hand sign has once again played a role in promoting the Natura 2000 Day. Public figures including former Spain and Real Madrid footballer, Emilio Butragueño, Olympic medallist Gemma Mengual and German MEPs Martin Schulz and Michael Cramer are among the many people who have been photographed making the hand sign in the run up to the day. These have been uploaded on the Natura 2000 Day website and via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (tagged #Natura2000Day). The sign has also featured on posters with the caption, ‘A small gesture can change everything’.

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Scottish volunteers stop theft of freshwater pearl mussels

 Freshwater Pearl Mussels

19 May 2015Local volunteers in the north western Highlands of Scotland (in the United Kingdom) are helping to safeguard the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) threatened by illegal fishing. The volunteer work – highlighted recently by The Herald, a Scottish newspaper – is part of the LIFE+ Nature Pearls in Peril (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000383) project.

Involving organisations across Scotland, England and Wales, the four-year project runs until 2016. A wide range of conservation measures are being implemented in key river systems to safeguard these Habitats Directive (Annex II-listed) freshwater molluscs, which have an unfavourable conservation status. A key action is the implementation of the Riverwatch scheme to raise awareness of the threat to M. margaritifera from illegal exploitation and to train volunteers in identifying and reporting pearl mussel crime.

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NCFF event indicates type of projects to be financed

NCFF

18 May 2015An introductory event on the European Commission's (EC) new Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) in Brussels on 8 May 2015 attracted a variety of participants. Launched in February this year, the new financial instrument will fund pro-biodiversity and pro-climate change adaptation projects across the EU.

Pia Bucella, Director of Natural Capital at DG Environment, and Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director of Mainstreaming Adaptation and Low Carbon Technology at DG CLIMA, introduced the event. Ms Bucella highlighted that an aim of the new financial instrument was, "to ensure better development and preservation of our natural capital," alongside traditional avenues such as the Common Agricultural Policy, regional funding and the LIFE programme.

Mr Delgado Rosa noted another key aspect of the NCFF, attracting the private sector to leverage the funding available for natural capital. "It won't be easy," he commented, "it's very innovative, there's a lot of learning to be done. But I'm sure it will be a success."

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Public consultation on birds and habitats directives

Birds and habitats directives

13 May 2015The European Commission is currently performing a ‘Fitness Check’ of the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive — Directive 2009/147/EC and Council Directive 92/43/EEC respectively. In this context, it has launched a public online consultation.

As part of the Commission’s Smart Regulation policy, the Fitness Check is intended to verify the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance, and European added value of the directives in question. In particular, it will analyse successes and problems with regard to implementation and integration, related costs, opportunities for improving implementation and reducing administrative burden, and the state of play in the implementation in different EU countries, while taking the views of key stakeholder groups into consideration.

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Innovative online seminar on wetland reconstruction opens

LIFE Albufera

08 May 2015The LIFE Albufera project (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000685) is running an innovative online seminar, entitled Constructed Wetlands: working with water for biodiversity. It  consists of a series of 11 videos featuring renowned international experts. The videos deal with different aspects of constructed wetlands management, including water, biodiversity and overall management issues and can be viewed on the project’s website, in English or Spanish.
Visitors to the online event are requested to provide feedback or ask questions by contacting the project’s communication manager: dorotheefischer@gmail.com.
The deadline for contributions is 24 May 2015. All of the information and answers will be published on the website and in the next edition of the LIFE project’s international newsletter.

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LIFE project presents new methodology for retrofitting buildings

LIFE10 ENV/ES/000439

05 May 2015The NEWsolutions4OLDHousing (LIFE10 ENV/ES/000439) project presented details of its methodology for the sustainable retrofitting of social housing at the Fifth Buildings Meeting (V Encuentro-edificación), held in the School of Building Construction at the Polytechnic University of Madrid on 24-26 March 2015. The theme of the meeting was integration and reactivity: key concepts in the efficient rehabilitation of high-density residential housing. The event was broadcast online and was the subject of a virtual congress for several weeks afterwards. 

Roberto Díaz, from the LIFE project’s coordinating beneficiary AITEMIN, talked about technological innovation for the efficient use of resources and energy in housing rehabilitation. In particular, he outlined how the NEWsolutions4OLDHousing project has identified new technologies, products and building systems for the retrofitting of social housing, and has developed an online tool to quantify and classify the sustainability of actions for retrofitting buildings.

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Proceedings of LIFE woodpeckers conference published in scientific journal

Woodpecker Conference

05 May 2015The foreword to the 7th International Woodpeckers Conference Proceedings was recently published in the scientific journal Acta Ornithologica and is now available to download online.  The conference, which was organised by the Spanish LIFE project PRO-lzki (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000572), was held in Vitoria-Gasteiz in February 2014, attracting 110 experts from Europe, America and Asia.

The international conference, Woodpeckers in a Changing World, featured 22 presentations and 21 posters. The publication of the best papers in an international journal recognises the scientific value of the conference and helps publicise the actions and results of the LIFE project.

The PRO-lzki project was launched to improve the conservation status of the vast Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) woodland of the Izki Natural Park, in the Basque Country, northern Spain. The project area is home to middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), one of several species benefiting from the conservation measures coordinated by the Provincial Council of Álava and the Hazi Foundation under the project.

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Celebrity involvement raises LIFE project's profile in Slovakia

Dorota Nvotová

27 April 2015Dorota Nvotová has become the public face of the LIFE ENERGY project (LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272) in Slovakia. The famous actress and singer has participated in project actions, which aim to protect endangered bird species. A short film featuring her involvement, and explaining the project’s objectives, will be available to view online soon. Dorota Nvotová is associated with landscape and wildlife through her travelling, which includes leading hiking expeditions in Nepal.

The main objective of the LIFE ENERGY project is to reduce bird deaths due to collisions with electricity power lines in 13 Natura 2000 sites in Slovakia. The project is targetting 10 bird species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive, including the Eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus).  Power lines that are identified as the most dangerous to these birds will be fitted with flight diverters, which make them more visible. During the first seven months of the project, more than 8 000 km of power lines were surveyed by over 50 trained field experts. The survey will continue until February 2016.

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Vote now for your favourite LIFE project

Vote now for your favourite LIFE project

24 April 2015 Each year the best LIFE projects are recognised at an award ceremony.

This year's event promises to be a little different as — for the first time ever — it will include two LIFE Community Awards.

Introducing the LIFE Community Awards

You are being asked to vote for your favourite environmental project and your favourite nature project, from the winners of the Best of the Best LIFE Projects 2014.

The Best of the Best are those judged to have been the most inspiring LIFE projects. They are meticulously selected by environmental experts according to rigorous criteria.

This year's Best of the Best winners have just been announced. In all, some 13 projects have been recognised as being particularly exemplary. Of these, eight fall under the environmental category and five under the nature category.

The public voting for the LIFE Community Awards is now open! Voting will end on 01/06/2015 at 23:00 Brussels time.

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LIFE announces the Best Projects of 2014

Best Projects Logo

21 April 2015The most inspiring LIFE projects completed during 2014 will be honoured at a prestigious award ceremony taking place during EU Green Week in June 2015. And they can now be exclusively revealed online…  

In all, some 42 Best Projects have been selected across three categories: Environment; Nature; and Information & Communication. Of these, 13 are recognised as being particularly exemplary and will be awarded Best of the Best project status. The 42 outstanding projects come from 16 EU Member States. In this 10th year of the LIFE Best Project Awards they include the first winners from the Czech Republic and Malta.

In the Environment category, there are six Best of the Best projects and a further 16 Best projects. The Nature winners include four Best of the Best projects and nine Best projects. The seven outstanding Information & Communication projects consist of three Best of the Best projects, as well as four Best projects.

Below you will find the full list of the 13 Best of the Best winners. To find out more about all 42 winning projects check out the Best Projects section of the LIFE website.

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Spreading the recycling message and changing behaviour

Up & Forward recycling

18 April 2015The LIFE project Up & Forward (LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389) recently held a closing seminar to present the results of all the individual awareness campaigns that were carried out across Greater Manchester to encourage residents to waste less and recycle more. The event attracted 95 attendees.

Up & Forward, which focussed on ‘hard-to-reach’ places, was led by Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) with the strong involvement of local communities.  

The project carried out awareness campaigns focussed on small target areas of 1 500 households. Since June 2013, 42 campaigns were carried out, each seeking to find a different solution to help residents recycle.

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New handbooks on gypsum recovery in buildings

Gypsum Building Recovery

16 April 2015The LIFE project Gypsum to Gypsum (GtoG, LIFE11 ENV/BE/001039) has just published a European handbook on best practices in the deconstruction of gypsum-based systems and a handbook on best practices in audit prior to the deconstruction of buildings.

The project consortium designed the books to become standard guidelines for more eco-friendly deconstruction and ultimately to help achieve the goals of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC).

The publications describe in detail the results of deconstruction pilot projects conducted in Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK, and contrast the cost of deconstruction versus demolition. At the pilot sites, the project partners deconstructed a variety of buildings, identified materials and wastes to be removed and examined relevant deconstruction techniques.

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WaterLIFE mobilises big response to River Basin Management Plan consultation

WaterLIFE

10 April 2015The WaterLIFE project (LIFE13 ENV/UK/000497) in England is successfully engaging with civil society groups and stimulating the public consultation foreseen by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) that will feed into the development of the second River Basin Management Plan (RBMP), foreseen by 2015.

Public consultation is a requirement of the WFD. The WaterLIFE project goes one step further by actively empowering civil society to engage with RBMP development. The project’s Save Our Waters website, set up in October 2014, enables communities across England to respond quickly and easily to the Environment Agency’s consultation on draft RMBPs.

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Black vultures nesting again in southern Portugal

Black Vultures

09 April 2015Portuguese nature conservationists are celebrating the results of LIFE’s Habitat Lince Abutre project (LIFE08 NAT/P/000227), which is helping to establish the start of a new breeding colony for Eurasian black vultures (Aegypius monachus). Two pairs of this critically endangered bird species have set up home on nesting platforms provided by the LIFE project in Alentejo. It marks the return of breeding black vultures to southern Portugal after an absence of several decades.

Eggs have already been confirmed in one nest and another breeding pair is busy making preparations for what is expected to be an additional clutch of new vulture chicks. This first step towards re-establishing a breeding population of black vultures in Alentejo has been warmly welcomed by the LIFE project partners. They worked hard to create the necessary conditions to encourage re-colonisation of the species and the results of their endeavours represent an important milestone for black vulture conservation in Portugal.

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LiveWell project supports a sustainable European food system

LiveWell Project

08 April 2015The LiveWell for LIFE project (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000173) has identified eight policy recommendations that they believe can greatly support the adoption of healthy, sustainable diets. This includes a recommendation for a supportive and cohesive policy environment and national and European levels and a request that, "governments put policy measures in place to support informed action for and monitoring of progress by all stakeholders." It also calls on existing stakeholder platforms at European level to swap best practices between Member States and other stakeholders.

The Commission has identified food as one of three key sectors for achieving a circular low-carbon economy in its Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ (COM (2011) 571). A subsequent public consultation in 2013 helped identify effective policy solutions. This fed into a draft strategy for ‘Building a sustainable European food system’ in 2014, but the corresponding communication has still to be adopted.

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Commissioner Vella visits giant imperial eagle graffiti

Photo: Protection of Birds (BSPB)

07 April 2015On 24 March 2015, Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, visited the unique 25-metre high mural titled ‘Save the Imperial Eagle’, which is painted on the facade of the St. Kliment Ohridski School in Sofia, whilst on an official visit to Bulgaria.
The giant graffiti is the first of its kind in Bulgaria and was created in 2012 by the Bulgarian graffiti team 140ideas for the Best LIFE  and the 2014 Natura 2000 award winning LIFE project BSPB LIFE+ Save the Raptors (LIFE07 NAT/BG/000068).
"I congratulate you on the inspirational idea to create this beautiful mural and particularly for producing real results in the conservation of this endangered species," said Commissioner Vella during his meeting with the Bulgaria Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB). 

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LIFE AIRUSE delivers project recommendations to DG Environment

AIRUSE (LIFE11 ENV/ES/000584)

20 March 2015 On 27 February 2015 representatives from all seven partners of the LIFE project AIRUSE (LIFE11 ENV/ES/000584) participated in a meeting with the European Commission in Brussels. The objective of the meeting was to provide an overview of the project results to DG Environment staff.

The AIRUSE project aims to develop and adapt cost-effective and appropriate measures to ensure better air quality in urban areas, with a particular focus on the cities of Porto, Barcelona, Milan, Florence and Athens. By identifying the most effective mitigation measures to reduce particulate matter levels to acceptable limits, it thus contributes to meeting current and future EU targets regarding air quality.

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MoorLIFE project takes one billion steps to restore Europe's most degraded blanket bog

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

17 March 2015 Led by the Moors for the Future Partnership, the MoorLIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202) staged a well-attended closing conference in Halifax, Yorkshire (UK) earlier this month. Titled 'An integrated approach to upland biodiversity', the two-day conference (3-4 March 2015) highlighted some of the five-year project's impressive results, placing them in the context of landscape-scale efforts to restore Europe's most degraded active blanket bog, the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Natura 2000 network site.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of Peak District National Park, one of Moors for the Future's partner organisations, said, “we’ve seen over the last 10 years the partnership really mature from projects through to programme level, spending £20 million." She also highlighted the value of LIFE's support for the restoration work.

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LIFE 'super brain' plans future landscape-scale conservation

Photo Credit: Stephen Nottingham

10 March 2015 The final event of the Futurescapes (LIFE10 INF/UK/000189) project, held in Bristol, UK on 4-5 March 2015, was a workshop entitled, the future of landscape-scale conservation in Europe.  It was structured around interactive ‘super brain’ sessions to tackle the key challenges facing landscape-level conservation. LIFE project beneficiary, the RSPB, organised the event in partnership with the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and Bristol 2015 European Green Capital.

Two keynote speakers put the event  in context. Sir John Lawton, the Vice President of the RSPB and President of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, summarised the message of the Making space for nature review of England’s wildlife and ecological network that he chaired in 2010. He said landscape-level conservation is, “all about putting the mantra of that report – More, Bigger, Better and Joined – into practice.” By placing conservation efforts on a continuum, from the smallest reserves to the largest rewilding projects, it is clear that size matters in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of nature conservation. The review led to the establishment of 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) in the UK in 2012, to create joined-up and resilient networks at a landscape level.

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New brochure highlights positive Natura 2000 experiences

Photo: LIFE11 INF/ES/000665

04 March 2015 In the framework of the LIFE project Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665), the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO)/BirdLife España has now published a brochure entitled Positive Natura 2000 Experiences.

Aiming to demonstrate the numerous benefits of the Natura 2000 network sites, of which there are over 2 000 in Spain and more than 27 000 all over Europe, the brochure features articles about Natura 2000 and sustainable agriculture, forestry, fisheries/marine farming, and tourism.  

“Natura 2000 is much more than nature reserves. It’s about people and nature, because it ensures that conservation and sustainable use go hand in hand with benefits to local citizens and the wider economy,” Pía Bucella, director of the Natural Capital Directorate in the European Commission’s DG Environment, writes in the introduction.

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LIFE networking event held on raptor feeding platforms

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/IT/000316

03 March 2015 The LIFE project Monti della Tolfa (LIFE08 NAT/IT/000316) recently hosted a national networking workshop on issues relating to raptor feeding platforms, which attracted more 145 experts and policymakers.

Speakers shared their experiences and presented findings on the use of feeding platforms for raptors. Discussion focused on conservation and management techniques for improving the conservation status of birds of prey as well as the legal issues surrounding the supply of meat and the costs of management. The event featured presentations from five LIFE project beneficiaries as well as invited experts from similar Italian projects, the ministry of health and the national environmental research institute.

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EU guidance features insight from LIFE project AgriClimateChange

Photo: LIFE09/ENV/ES/000441

02 March 2015 The positive impact of the AgriClimateChange (LIFE09/ENV/ES/000441) LIFE project continues to grow as it has now been included in a set of technical guidance notes from the European Commission.

Produced by the DG Climate Action for Member States’ rural development programme authorities, the recent publication Mainstreaming climate change into rural development policy post 2013 features much of the transnational knowhow developed with LIFE support by the AgriClimateChange partners.

The guidance aims to promote the design and integration of new and innovative climate operations. There are at least 16 references to the LIFE project’s practical tools to help farmers both mitigate the causes of climate change, as well as adapt their businesses to become more aligned with changing weather patterns.

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EU acknowledges LIFE good practice in results-based rural development

LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125

26 February 2015 Ireland’s BurrenLIFE project (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125) has produced innovations in results-based approaches to agri-environment action that have been highlighted as good practice by EU rural development authorities. This accolade comes from the first phase of a new initiative by the European Parliament and European Commission promoting wider uptake by Member States of results-based agri-environment payment schemes (RBAPS).

Whilst the LIFE programme has supported many projects that have fed into the development of management-based agri-environment schemes, the BurrenLIFE project is a pioneer of this new results-based approach to agri-environment payment. RBAPS differ from conventional agri-environment schemes because they focus their payments on recorded biodiversity results, rather than compensating for specific land management actions.

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LIFE Berlengas spells out dangers of invasive alien plants

LIFE Berlengas

20 February 2015 With the start of the project LIFE Berlengas (LIFE13 NAT/PT/000458) in June 2014 the Portuguese Government and SPEA (BirdLife International Portugal) began work to ensure the sustainable management of the Berlengas archipelago, in particular its endemic flora and seabird population.

The group of islands is a popular tourist destination that lies 10 to 15 kilometres off the Portuguese coast, west of the town of Peniche and is a designated Natura 2000 network site. The main aim of the project is to establish a legally-binding management plan with clear, measurable actions and targets for archipelago.

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LIFE thematic report on forests now online

Forest Report

18 February 2015 A new in-depth thematic report on LIFE and forests has just been published. Authored by An Bollen and Darline Velghe from the LIFE programme’s external monitoring team, the 118-page publication gives an insight into the diversity of LIFE+ forest projects, analyses revealing trends and evaluates their overall relevance to EU forest policy.

The Forest Thematic Report is intended to provide useful insights for EU decision- and policy-makers, to share lessons learned amongst project practitioners, to disseminate results more broadly, to showcase projects for future LIFE applicants, to account for spending of EU public funds and to raise awareness on new approaches.

 

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New publication: LIFE and Climate change mitigation

LIFE and Climate change mitigation

17 February 2015 In anticipation of the award of the first action grants from the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action, the latest LIFE Environment Focus publication takes an in-depth look at LIFE's work till now in support of climate change mitigation.

The LIFE and Climate change mitigation brochure gives an overview of EU climate policy and provides a host of best practice examples from more than 200 featured projects from across the European Union.

With a foreword by EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, the 88-page publication includes interviews with representatives of DG Climate Action and with NGOs active in the field. These highlight the climate mitigation challenges ahead and LIFE's role in the transition to low-carbon agriculture.

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Ground-breaking research about bird cooperation reported around Europe

Iibis bird

16 February 2015 Migrating birds share the burden of leading the flock in v-formation flight to save energy, a part LIFE-funded study now published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has found.

The ground-breaking research, which was supported by the LIFE project Northern Bald Ibis - Reason for Hope - Reintroduction of Northern Bald Ibis in Europe, is generating huge public interest with the story being picked up by major media outlets across Europe and beyond, including the BBC, Spiegel, etc.

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New publication: LIFE and freshwater fish

LIFE and freshwater fish

12 February 2015 The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a close look at the work LIFE projects have done to protect threatened freshwater fish species and improve their habitats. The 64-page brochure, LIFE and freshwater fish, highlights the status of key species and the threats they face, as well as providing an overview of LIFE's efforts to improve their conservation status, help in the management of the Natura 2000 network, and meet the targets set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

Since 1992, more than 135 LIFE projects have directly targeted over 50 threatened freshwater fish species listed in the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive or in the IUCN European Red List. Hundreds more projects have indirectly benefitted fish populations through restoration of river, lake and other habitats vital to the lifecycle of freshwater and migratory fish populations.

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NGO brochures now available

NGO brochures

11 February 2015 Two new LIFE brochures are now available to access online. An achievements brochure outlines the broad range of activities funded by LIFE operating grants for NGOs in 2013, while the NGO compilation brochure overviews all the NGOs funded under this aspect of the LIFE programme in 2014.

Last year, 28 NGOs successfully applied to the European Commission for LIFE operational grants totalling around €9 million (19% of the total budget). These NGOs focus on a wide range of fields including nature and biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of resources, water quality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental education and awareness raising, clean transport and sustainable production, farming and food consumption.

The 2013 NGO achievements brochure highlights the specific achievements of four environmental NGOs covering different policy areas, namely: Carbon Disclosure Project, Health Care Without Harm, NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Slow Food. It gives short profiles of the NGOs and their environmental aims, outlining how the operational grants have enabled them to meet those goals in 2013.

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Bulgarian raptors project wins good practice award

Photo: LIFE07/NAT/BG000068

09 February 2015 Work preventing bird electrocutions on power lines carried out by LIFE+ Save the Raptors (LIFE07/NAT/BG000068) has been recognised by the international Renewables-Grid-Initiative (RGI). The project beneficiary – the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB - BirdLife partner) – was presented with the good practice award, in the environmental protection category, at RGI’s annual conference, held in Brussels in January 2015. 

Accepting the award on behalf of the BSPB, Svetoslav Spasov, project manager said, “I am delighted that in two particular cases we were able to secure the over-head power lines and prevent the death of many eastern imperial eagles in Bulgaria and Egyptian vultures in Sudan. There’s a lot still to do though – for a permanent solution, we need active cooperation and partnership between state authorities, private electric companies and the nature conservation community.”

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BiodivERsA to launch call for proposals in May

BiodivERsA LOGO

28 January 2015 The BiodivERsA ERA-Net has announced that it will launch a new call for pan-European biodiversity research proposals. The call, with an indicative global budget of roughly €30 million, is due to be launched in May 2015 with a closing date in early November 2015.
The call – co-funded by the European Commission – will cover two themes:

  • Theme 1: understanding and managing the biodiversity dynamics of soils and sediments to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services; and
  • Theme 2: understanding and managing biodiversity dynamics in land-, river- and seascapes (habitat connectivity, green and blue infrastructures, greening cities) to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services.

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LIFE supports financial instruments for energy efficiency and preservation of natural capital

LIFENEWS

27 January 2015 Today Commissioners Arias Cañete and Vella, the European Commission and EIB Vice-President for Environment and Climate Action Jonathan Taylor have launched two financial instruments funded through the LIFE Programme for Environment and Climate Action.

The Private Finance for Energy Efficiency Instrument (PF4EE) aims to address the limited access to adequate and affordable loan financing for energy efficiency projects targeted by schemes developed by EU Member States to implement their Nation Energy Efficiency Action Plans. The Commission has committed €80 million for 2014-17 anticipating an eightfold leverage effect. The PF4EE will combine lending from the EIB to intermediary banks in Member States with protection against losses associated with making loans for energy efficiency projects, and technical assistance aiming at increasing the technical capacity of the financial intermediaries. The beneficiaries could include SMEs, private individuals, small municipalities or other public sector bodies. The size of the energy efficiency loans to be provided to the final beneficiaries could range from €40 000 up to €5 million and higher in exceptional cases.

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Top five LIFEnews stories of 2014

LIFENEWS

20 January 2015 LIFEnews, the monthly LIFE newsletter, covers themes that are of importance to European policy on the environment and nature conservation, as well as the LIFE programme itself. So what were the five most-read articles of 2014?

Let the countdown begin…

The fifth most-read article was published in February. The European Commission had recently adopted a new Clean Air Policy Package and our article focused on how LIFE can play a key role in helping Member States reach their objectives. Compliance with the package could be achieved by, “various funding instruments at European level, in particular the LIFE programme,” according to Scott Brockett of the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment.LIFE vital for EC's new Clean Air Package

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New report on improving Natura 2000 awareness

NATURA 2000 LOGO

19 January 2015 The European Commission has published a report following the LIFE Information and Communication (LIFE INF) platform meeting about raising awareness of Natura 2000, which was held in Kraków, Poland on 13-14 October 2014. The meeting allowed a range of nature projects from the information and communication strand of the LIFE programme to exchange experience and discuss ways of improving awareness and understanding of the Natura 2000 network.

The projects were presented in two sessions: the first assessed the impact of LIFE INF projects that sought to increase awareness of key stakeholder groups (such as farmers, local communities, public administrations and managers of protected areas) and ensure public involvement in the conservation of Natura 2000 areas; the second looked at the role of targeted information campaigns as a tool for resolving specific protection issues. The event concluded with workshops designed to share knowledge and to develop recommendations on how to best promote Natura 2000.

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Finnish Saimaa Seal LIFE project wins biodiversity award

Photo:Mervi Kunnasranta/Metsähallitus

07 January 2015 The National IUCN Committee of Finland has awarded the Finnish Biodiversity Award 2013-2014 to the project Saimaa Seal LIFE (LIFE12 NAT/FI/000367). The project received the award specifically for one of its Actions (C2), which involved improving the breeding conditions of the Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) with man-made snowdrifts.

The action was necessary because the snow on Lake Saimaa was extremely thin during the winter of 2013/2014 and the snow mounds which the seal needs to reproduce did not form naturally. To solve this problem a large number of volunteers created 240 artificial snow mounds for the seals. Their hard work paid off: in spring 2014, some 59 seal pups were born in nests in the manmade mounds. “Without the help of the volunteers this work would not have been successful,” says Dr. Raisa Tiilikainen, project manager. The solution has caused quite a stir outside of Finland because it is seen as a new, simple and innovative way to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on seals.

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Call for Ideas - Pilot / demonstration projects HORIZON 2020 - Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials

European Commission LOGO

06 January 2015 You are invited to participate in our new call for ideas! As part of the work programme 2016-2017 of the societal challenge 5 “Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials” (SC5) of the Horizon 2020 framework programme, the European Commission intends to open calls for large-scale pilot/demonstration projects in the areas of circular economy, nature-based solutions, climate services and water.

The present call for ideas for pilot/demonstration projects is intended to:

  • help identifying which research and innovation areas attract most interest from innovators and innovation users (e.g. industries, financial actors, academia, research and innovation players, private or public entities, regions, cities, citizens and their organisations…) and
  • stimulate developers and providers of innovative solutions to engage in projects of greater ambition in terms of scope, scale and impact.

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Red-breasted goose links Bulgarian and Hungarian LIFE projects

Photo: Daniel Mitev

05 January 2015 A red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) recently observed in a mixed grazing flock of greater white-fronted goose and red-breasted goose at Nagy-szik in the Hortobágy National Park, Hungary, was identified thanks to a yellow plastic ring with which it had been marked in 2013 by the Bulgarian LIFE project Safe Ground for Redbreasts (LIFE09 NAT/BG/000230).

The observed individual was feeding at a site that was restored by the LIFE project, Sodic lake habitat restoration in the Hortobágy (LIFE07 NAT/H/000324). This site hosts large flocks of wintering geese, and through the network of goose experts across Europe, the site managers were able to inform the Bulgarian project team.

The Bulgarian LIFE project, which is being coordinated by BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, is carrying out land-management measures in the Dobrudzha region of northern Bulgaria to provide secure foraging grounds for the red-breasted goose – the most threatened goose species in the world.

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FAO publication highlights LIFE-supported climate change mitigation

FAO publication

24 December 2014A recent FAO publication on climate change has referenced conservation measures carried out by two LIFE projects: a Swedish (LIFE08 NAT/S/000268) mire restoration project; and a German alkaline fen restoration project (LIFE08 NAT/D/000003).
The publication, Towards climate-responsible peatlands management, highlights the challenges facing the alkaline fens in Brandenburg and the actions undertaken by the LIFE project beneficiary, Naturschutzfonds Brandenburg to meet them. The project sites have been heavily drained and converted to arable land, but thanks to LIFE these areas are being restored through raising the water level and removing nutrients.
Grazing is another key restoration measure. “The project worked in collaboration with local farmers to establish pastures for Asian water buffalo and sheep. With proper grazing management, the livestock keep the growth of reed and other larger vegetation to a minimum,” the publication reports.

The project, which is set to end next year, has carried out measures on six sites, mowing  a total of 140 ha of reed, filling in 27 km of drainage ditches and cutting peat on an area of around 14 ha. Water buffalos are grazing on more than 30 hectares.

The restoration of fenland, and peatlands in general, is an effective climate-change mitigation measure, as several LIFE project are demonstrating. The ongoing Swedish project is an excellent example and one that will feature in a forthcoming LIFE brochure on climate change.

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LIFE launches Natural Capital Financing Facility

LIFE LOGO

23 December 2014The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed an agreement entrusting the EIB with the management of the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), the second of two new financial instruments under the LIFE Programme.

The NCFF will provide loans and investments in funds to support projects that promote the preservation of natural capital, including adaptation to climate change, within the EU-28.

The EIB will contribute a total budget for the Investment Facility of €100-125 million for 2014-2017. The European Commission will contribute €50 million as a guarantee for the investments, and €10 million for a support facility. Beneficiary companies and financial intermediaries will provide significant additional financing.

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LIFE funding expansion to finance energy efficiency projects

LIFE LOGO

19 December 2014An announcement on 9 December 2014 introduced a new financial instrument to operate under the LIFE Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes (2014-2020).  Agreed by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) instrument is dedicated to increasing private investment in energy efficiency projects. The instrument will support Member States' progress towards EU targets for energy efficiency.

The PF4EE instrument is to bridge the gap in affordable commercial financing for energy efficiency investment. It does this by making lending a more sustainable activity for European private sector financial institutions and by increasing the availability of debt financing. To this end, the Commission has committed €80 million for 2014-17 through the LIFE programme to fund credit risk protection and expert technical support services. Management of the PF4EE instrument is entrusted to the EIB and the bank has committed making a minimum of €480 million available for long-term financing.

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The Best LIFE Environment projects 2013

Best LIFE Environment projects 2013

17 December 2014The Best LIFE Environment projects 2013 publication highlights exemplary environment projects, which received recognition at the LIFE Environment Awards. The projects, which were completed before the end of 2013, achieved outstanding results, demonstrating best practices and pioneering innovative solutions.

This year, the 10th consecutive year of the awards, was the first time that LIFE Information & Communication (LIFE INF) projects with an environmental focus were also recognised.

Four projects were awarded the ultimate accolade of being a ‘Best of the Best’ project, including one LIFE INF. In addition, a further 19 projects (including three LIFE INF) were recognised as ‘Best’ LIFE projects for their excellent work.

Presenting the awards, Dr Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency said: “The innovation that we find in many of these projects will be an inspiration for the European institutions and for Member States and for a number of other actors.”

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The Best LIFE Nature projects 2013

The Best LIFE Nature projects 2013

16 December 2014The Best LIFE Nature projects 2013 publication highlights the exceptional achievements of nature conservation and restoration projects that were completed before the end of 2013.

The 6th edition of the annual awards ceremony for the winning projects was held in Brussels earlier this year. And for the first time, the achievements of LIFE Information & Communication (LIFE INF) projects with a nature focus were also recognised.

Four projects received the ultimate accolade (‘Best of the Best’ project), including a LIFE INF project in Greece. In addition, a further nine projects (including two from the LIFE INF strand) were recognised as ‘Best’ LIFE projects for their excellent work.

All 13 outstanding projects - drawn from nine Member States - are featured in this new publication. Together they demonstrate the significant contribution that the LIFE programme can make to nature conservation practice and policy.  

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AgriClimateChange project wins prize at European web awards

eu Web Awards LOGO

08 December 2014The LIFE AgriClimateChange project (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000441) was awarded first prize for its website in the Better World category for environment-related projects at the .eu Web Awards on 19 November 2014.

“We are very honoured to have been awarded this prize. By recognising the work of the project team it inspires us to continue communicating the importance of a more sustainable European farming sector, which is essential if we are to achieve any significant improvements,” said Eduardo de Miguel, managing director at Fundación Global Nature and coordinator of the project.

He added that, “this is one of the reasons why communication and the effective dissemination of the project’s results play a key part in the project.”

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LIFE BulPlantNet project receives award for successful biodiversity campaign

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/BG/000279

05 December 2014The LIFE project BulPlantNet (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000279) has won the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation's annual award for the most successful campaign for biodiversity conservation. The foundation handed out the awards in this and seven further categories during a ceremony in Sofia. “The award is of great value to us, since it shows that our efforts have been highly appreciated by the broader public,” says BulPlantNet project coordinator Prof Dimitar Peev of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

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Natura 2000 Awards: call for entries now open!

Natura 2000 Awards logo

03 December 2014The call for applications for the second edition of the European Commission's Natura 2000 Awards is now open.

The Natura 2000 Awards celebrate and promote best practice in nature conservation. Specifically, the awards recognise excellence in the management and promotion of the Natura 2000 network.

The initiative is all about bringing the success of the Natura 2000 network to the public's attention and to demonstrate its importance in protecting natural heritage throughout Europe. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Brussels on Natura 2000 Day – 21 May 2015.

Natura 2000 works to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, and is the centrepiece of the EU's nature and biodiversity policy.

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LIFE support ensures continuation of the Apennine chamois

Photo: LIFE09 NAT/IT/000183

27 November 2014The long conservation history of the Apennine chamois – a chamois subspecies (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) - received a welcome boost with the birth in May 2014 of five kids in the Sirente Velino Natural Park (PRSV) in Italy, a site from which the species had disappeared in the recent past. That the new arrivals appeared in the first birthing season following animal release is a good omen for the long-term conservation of the subspecies.

The newborns mark a successful conclusion to the LIFE COORNATA project (LIFE09 NAT/IT/000183). The initiative builds on two previous LIFE Nature projects that also build on a long-standing conservation tradition. In fact the species recovery efforts can be traced all the way back to 1918.

At the end of the First World War, only 30 individuals of the Apennine chamois survived in a restricted area of the central Apennines. Today more than 2000 individuals live in 5 populations in the main parks of the central Apennines: Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park (PNALM), Majella National Park (PNM), Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park (PNGSL), Monti Sibillini National Park (PNMS) and Sirente Velino Natural Park (PRSV).

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New publication: LIFE and invasive alien species

LIFE and invasive alien species

25 November 2014The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a timely look at one of the greatest threats to Europe's biodiversity, ecosystem services, human health and economic activities. The 76-page LIFE and invasive alien species brochure links the work of LIFE projects with the aims of the new EU Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation.

There are an estimated 1200-1800 IAS in Europe and the impact of such species is of growing concern. The LIFE programme has been addressing the problems posed by invasive alien species for more than two decades. Indeed, in that time some 265 LIFE projects have included measures to deal with IAS, ranging from steps to prevent their spread to control and eradication actions in places where invasive alien species are already present and having a negative impact on native species and habitats. LIFE also provides a deep well of learning on trans-border cooperation, dissemination and awareness-raising efforts with regards to IAS.

This new brochure examines the lessons learned from the LIFE programme's extensive experience of dealing with the impacts of IAS. As such it is essential reading for policymakers and practitioners in this field.

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Vulture from Bulgarian LIFE project found in Jordan

(Photo: LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278)

24 November 2014 The LIFE project VULTURES' RETURN (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278) has discovered that a young vulture released in Bulgaria has managed to travel as far as Jordan. It is the first time that a released vulture has been tracked at such a distance. The story came to light when a Bedouin man, who had trapped the live bird close to the village of Jafir, called the Bulgarian phone number written on the bird's wing tag to ask for a reward.

After the initial contact had been cut short due to communication difficulties, the project partners mobilised colleagues from Jordan, Israel, and Germany. They found out that the man had caught a young male specimen which had originally been ringed, tagged, and released in Bulgaria in September 2014. However, when the local Jordanian police located the trapper, he claimed that he had re-released the bird.

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LIFE project documentary on the Greater Horseshoe Bat wins grand prize

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/F/000473

20 November 2014The project LIFE Chiro Med (LIFE08 NAT/F/000473) recently won first prize at the international ornithological film festival, held in France, for their documentary film entitled, The Life of the Greater Horseshoe Bat. The film, directed by Tanguy Stoecklé and produced by the Groupe Chiroptères de Provence, is about a colony of the rare greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) that live in the Camargue Natural Regional Park, France.

The greater horseshoe bat is one of the most amazing and mysterious bats in Europe. The film gives an insight into the life a young female bat and its mother and takes viewers on a thrilling but challenging journey.

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Scientific journal publishes results of LIFE project on insect song

image:LIFE08 NAT/GR/000539

12 November 2014Researchers from the AMIBIO project (LIFE08 NAT/GR/000539) have established a song library for orthopteran insects that facilitates automated species recognition in the Mediterranean. Their work has now been published in the Journal of Insect Conservation (October 2014, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 909-925).

Orthoptera is an order of insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and other species, many of whom produce sound (known as stridulation). The AMBIO project identified 20 different species on Hymettus Mountain in Athens. Hymettus Mountain is a Natura 2000 network site where AMBIO installed an innovative acoustic biodiversity monitoring system to collect sounds produced by the local insects, birds, mammals, and amphibians.

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Bulgarian LIFE experts help convict egg collector

image: BSPB

12 November 2014An English egg collector has been convicted in Bulgaria for the plundering of eggs of rare and endangered bird species. Jan Frederick Ross was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for three years, and a BGN 5000 (€ 2500) fine after pleading guilty to the illegal possession of 16 bird eggs and 3 taxidermy specimens.

Central to his conviction in October was the testimony of experts from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) who are involved in the LIFE  projects, LIFE for Eagles Forest (LIFE12 NAT/BG/001218) and Return of the Neophronria and Greece’ (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). The egg-collecting conviction, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, followed a lengthy investigation carried out by the BSPB, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)/ BirdLife UK and the Bulgarian police.

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LIFE project produces award winning films about saving the Danube sturgeon

(LIFE11 INF/AT/000902

07 November 2014The LIFE project Saving Danube Sturgeons (LIFE11 INF/AT/000902) has produced and published award-winning videos on the plight of the highly endangered species the Danube sturgeon. In Bulgaria the films were broadcast by several TV stations, including the national television channel. The project teams in Bulgaria and Romania also used the films in a web and information campaign about the sturgeon. The videos were directed by Dragomir Sholev, one of best young Bulgarian directors, and the TV campaign "The Invisible Fish", won bronze in the prestigious FARA 2014 advertising awards in Bulgaria.

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LIFE+ Hyper Bus outperforms targets

Copyright Kristian Pohl/Government Offices of Sweden

03 November 2014The results of the ambitious Swedish electro mobility project, LIFE+ Hyper Bus (LIFE10 ENV/SE/000041) have surpassed expectation. This public-private sector collaboration has developed and trialled three new plug-in hybrid buses with fast-charging batteries in Gothenburg.

It was the first time that the vehicles were tested in regular service. As a measure of the international interest in the project – in September 2013, the technology behind the Hyper Bus was showcased to US President Barack Obama during his visit to Sweden.

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Austrian LIFE project wins International RiverFoundation award

Photo:Astrid Knie / Wiener Wasser

03 November 2014The achievements of Murerleben (LIFE08 NAT/A/000614) have been recognised by the Australian-based International RiverFoundation (IRF), which has awarded the LIFE project a prestigious River Prize.

The IRF rewards outstanding sustainable management projects that benefit the world's rivers, lakes and wetlands. Its flagship programme comprises the Thiess International, the Australian and the European River Prizes. Although the International prize was founded in 1999, the European River Prize was first awarded in 2013. This prize is administered from the IRF Europe office in Vienna and is judged by a panel of European experts, with the winner receiving an elegant trophy and €25 000 thanks to sponsorship by Coca-Cola Europe.

The LIFE Murerleben project won the award for restoring, maintaining and improving the landscapes of the upper Mur River in Styria (Austria). The upper Mur had become badly degraded due to river channelling, which causes a reduction in river dynamics and a loss of habitats, and the construction of weirs and hydropower stations that disrupt river continuity.

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LIFE project teams up with Jane Goodall to reintroduce migratory bird species

Photo:Waldrappteam and Parco Natura Viva

27 October 2014 Jane Goodall, the eminent primatologist and UN messenger of peace, joined the LIFE project ‘LIFE Northern Bald Ibis – Reason for Hope’ (LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143) and representatives from two Italian hunting associations, to sign a pioneering agreement on 12 October 2014 that supports the sustainable reintroduction of migratory northern bald ibis or waldrapp (Geronticus eremita) in Europe. Crucially, the signatories agreed to protect this and other endangered migratory bird species from illegal hunting in Italy.

The signing of the agreement took place during a ceremony held at the Parco Natura Vivia (Bussolengo, Italy). The Italian park, one of the nine LIFE project partners, plays an important role within the campaign against illegal hunting in Italy. At the signing ceremony, Dr Goodall awarded honorary patronages to representatives of the two Italian hunting associations and also to ten school groups, who all adopted individual birds.

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2014 Call for LIFE Action Grants: deadline for submission extented

EU Flags

16 October 2014 The deadline for submitting "Traditional" Projects has officially been extented until Friday 24th October 2014 at 16:00 Brussels local time instead of 16th October.

 

 


DG Environment and LIFE programme at IUCN World Parks Congress

2014 IUCN World Parks Congress

06 October 2014 DG Environment and the LIFE programme will be present at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia next month (12-19 November). The DG Environment stand will include an area showcasing LIFE project videos and other programme achievements.

All LIFE projects also are invited to participate in the Saved Nature Photography Competition that will be running throughout the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress (entrants need not be present at the congress). To enter, click here.

Held every 10 years, The IUCN World Parks Congress is a landmark global forum that is designed to set the agenda for the conservation of protected areas for the coming decade. Based around the theme, "Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions", the 2014 congress seeks to present, discuss and create original approaches for conservation and development. It also will mark the launch of the Standard for the IUCN Green List of Protected  Areas and the criteria for Key Biodiversity Areas, both of which are closely linked to the EU policy agenda in this field.

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Marine thematic report

MARINE THEMATIC REPORT

30 September 2014 The LIFE Monitoring Team has published a thematic report on marine-related LIFE projects. Subtitled ‘The future of Europe’s seas’, the 116-page study analyses the LIFE programme’s contribution to protecting and improving the marine environment.

Previous studies have analysed LIFE’s impact on the water sector, noise and air and soil.

The principal objectives of the Marine Thematic Report were as follows:

  • To review current marine-related legislation;
  • To review all marine-related LIFE projects to examine trends and the costs of implementation (both total and EU contributions);
  • To review selected projects relating to the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and associated Programmes of Measures (POMs), using SWOT analysis;
  • To review selected projects that provide new solutions and best practice for implementation of EU legislation and policy in the most efficient way and a high potential for transferability within the EU; and
  • To understand the relevance of project approaches, including factors for failure or success of certain approaches.

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