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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 >>

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2014 Call for LIFE Action Grants now open!

LIFE 2014 Call

18 June 2014The first call for action grants for the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action (2014-2020) is now open. For further information, application forms and guidance documents go directly to the call page.

The Commission invites legal persons (entities) registered in the European Union (EU) to present proposals for the 2014 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants. The call covers proposals for both LIFE sub-programmes.

For the sub-programme for Environment, this call will cover action grants "Traditional" projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Capacity Building projects. For the sub-programme for Climate Action, this call will cover action grants only for "Traditional" projects and Capacity Building projects (the other types will be covered from 2015 onwards).

Proposals may be submitted by legal persons (entities) registered in the EU. Applicants may fall into three types of beneficiaries: (1) public bodies, (2) private commercial organisations and (3) private non-commercial organisations (including NGOs).

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Rare falcon returns to Slovakia

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

03 July 2014A pair of red-footed falcons (Falco vespertinus) have been discovered near Trnava, Slovakia, the first to be seen in this area for 40 years. The species, which was the focus of a recent LIFE project and is the target of an ongoing one, is close to extinction in Slovakia. Only two pairs were previously known to inhabit the country.

The main EU population of the red-footed falcon is found in the Pannonian lowlands. The raptor favours steppe-type habitats with extensive agriculture and low tree coverage. MME Birdlife Hungary carried out conservation actions in favour of the falcon in Hungary and Romania under the LIFE project, F.VESPERTINUS-HU/RO (LIFE05/NAT/HU/000122). It created thousands of artificial nesting sites and a special agro-environmental scheme for the conservation of feeding habitats. As a result of the project, the Hungarian population increased from 600 to 1 200 breeding pairs.

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Annual Compilations of new LIFE projects published

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

30 June 2014The Annual Compilations of new LIFE+ projects are now online. From the 2013 call for proposals, the European Commission has selected 125 projects for co-funding under the Environment Policy & Governance strand; 92 projects under LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity strand of the programme; and eight new environmental awareness projects in six countries under LIFE+ Information & Communication.

The Environment Policy & Governance strand supports pilot projects that contribute to the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. Total investment in this strand will come to €318.5 million, of which the EU will provide €130.8 million.

The LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity projects, which aim to improve the conservation status of endangered species and habitats, are carried out by partnerships of conservation bodies, government authorities and other parties located across 25 Member States. In total, they represent an investment of €233.9 million, of which the EU will contribute €133.9 million.

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Spanish LIFE project wins Regional Environment Award

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

24 June 2014The Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon has awarded its 2014 Prize for the Environment to the LIFE+ project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431). The project, run by the local authority (Comarca) of Los Monegros, won the prize in the ‘Local Government’ category at the 16th annual awards ceremony held in Zaragoza on 5 June 2014, World Environment Day.

CREAMAgua created wetlands and riverbank forests to act as natural filters to reduce the run-off of inorganic nutrients - nitrates and phosphates - and salts from agricultural land into rivers. It was led by the local authority, but worked actively with local farmers in the management of the wetland areas.

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EC launches platform for resolving human-large carnivore conflicts

Photo: LIFE02 TCY/CRO/014

20 June 2014Populations of brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), wolverine (Gulo gulo) and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are stabilising or increasing in EU Member States, after a long period of decline. Improved protection in Natura 2000 network sites and greater public awareness of nature conservation has enabled these large carnivores to return to areas from which they have long been absent. However, this can bring them into increasing conflict with human activities. Over 70 LIFE projects have focused on large carnivores and many of these have involved conflict reduction measures, as described in the LIFE Focus publication ‘LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores’.

The European Commission launched the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores on 10 June 2014, to help solve at a European level the social and economic problems that can sometimes result from an increase in large carnivore numbers.

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New arrival in yelkouan nest box

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090

19 June 2014Following an earlier success (reported in May 2014) on the website of the LIFE+ MALTA SEABIRD PROJECT (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090) - of a first occupant of an artificial nest box by a yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) - the LIFE team has just revealed the arrival of a “fluffy, fast growing chick”. A delighted spokesperson says: “This is Malta’s first chick to hatch and grow inside an artificial nest.” During the day, the LIFE team explains, the parents already leave the chick alone – returning to feed it with “regurgitated squid and fish” during the night.

More successful seabird nest news is expected as the 2011-2016 project progresses, especially as the project team is being supported by a rat eradication programme, which is being run in the species’ main breeding colony, on the isle of Rdum tal-Madonna. Rats are an invasive species to the Maltese isles and as the yelkouan lays just one egg per year, rat predation on their eggs and chicks is a major threat.

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Hungarian LIFE projects host International conference on conservation in military areas

conference on conservation in military areas

10 June 2014An international conference on nature in military areas was recently held in Veszprém, Hungary under the framework of two LIFE projects, the Hungarian Little Plain project (LIFE08 NAT/H/000289) and the Eastern Bakony project (LIFE07 NAT/H/000321).

The event, which highlighted good examples of habitat protection in areas used by military forces, brought together 99 participants from 13 countries for a three-day conference in the historic town of Veszprém (14-16 May 2014). 

The use of protected areas by the military is common practice in many countries in Europe, and conservation experts face similar challenges: illegal waste disposal, the spread of invasive species, rehabilitation of degraded habitats and the demolition of abandoned military buildings. Exchange of information and best practices is thus vital, and the conference underlined the importance of communication.

The conference featured more than 20 case studies. Biologists, ecologists and environmental experts gave presentations on nature conservation and rehabilitation of sand land habitats, whilst representatives of defence ministries and NATO were invited to address the military aspects of land management.

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Exemplary LIFE projects support transition to a circular economy

Awards@Greenweek

06 June 2014The Best LIFE Environment projects and Best LIFE Information and Communication projects addressing environmental themes completed in 2013 were recognised at an award ceremony in Brussels on 4 June. The ceremony took place alongside the annual EU Green Week, which this year was on the theme, “Circular economy – saving resources, creating jobs”.

Following an introduction from Timo Mäkelä, Director of Global and Regional Challenges and LIFE, DG Environment, European Commission, the awards were presented by Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA). In his keynote address, Dr Bruyninckx said that, “Many of the issues that have been tackled in LIFE projects have found their way into [the EEA’s] reporting and our knowledge base, so we have a keen interest in the work that all of you have been doing.”

He added that many LIFE projects, “Also have a close connection to the theme of this Green Week. When we look at sustainability futures in Europe we are framing them increasingly under three broad categories which are embedded in the 7th Environmental Action Programme, the climate and energy package and a number of other policy initiatives – the low carbon society; economic resilience; and the circular economy.”

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UK project launches web tool for compost and recycled aggregate producers

EQual LOGO

02 June 2014The UK LIFE project EQual (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000176), has launched its first online resource, the Quality Protocol (QP) Checker web tool for compost and recycled aggregates.

Launched at the Organics Recycling Conference 2014, the tool provides an easy, step-by-step guide for producers to assess whether their product meets the requirements of the relevant QP and has achieved End-of Waste (EoW) status.

The online tool, which was developed in close cooperation with the Organics Recycling Group (ORG), one of the project partners, is designed to help users to understand and apply QP procedures. It creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints areas where improvement is needed. It can also be used as an internal audit check for established QP-compliant producers and provides a template for regulatory enforcement officers to support more consistent compliance-assessment procedures.

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Actions of LIFE projects honoured at first Natura 2000 awards

NATURA 2000 LOGO

23 May 2014The actions of three LIFE projects were among the winners at the inaugural ‘European Natura 2000 Award’ at a ceremony held on 21 May 2014 at the Berlaymont building in Brussels.

The awards have been set up to increase recognition of the best achievements related to management of Natura 2000 network sites across the EU. In many cases these actions have taken place within the context of projects co-funded by the LIFE programme.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment presented the awards. Among the five winners were a Bulgarian LIFE project that is targeting the imperial eagle (LIFE07 NAT/BG/000068), winner in the ‘Conservation’ category, the Belgian project, 3Water (LIFE08 NAT/B/000036), which won the award for ‘Reconciling Interests/Perceptions’ and the Romanian project, STIPA (LIFE09 NAT/RO/000618), victor in the ‘Socio-economic benefits’ category.

A total of 163 nature conservation actions in Natura 2000 sites from across Europe, including a high number of LIFE funded ones, made applications from which a panel of distinguished judges drew up a shortlist of 20 Natura 2000 sites, divided into five distinct categories.

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Platform Meeting reviews LIFE's contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation

LIFE Platform Meeting

22 May 2014The LIFE Platform Meeting ‘Climate change- ecosystem services approach for adaptation and mitigation’ was successfully held in Norwich, England, on 14-15 May 2014. The event was co-hosted by Futurescapes (LIFE10 INF/UK/000189), a project led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) that promotes landscape-scale conservation, and IPENS (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000384), which is developing an improvement programme for England's Natura 2000 Sites.

A total of 43 people attended the meeting, including representatives from 26 LIFE projects in nine EU Member States, along with government and statutory body representatives from the UK. In addition to the 15 LIFE project presentations at the meeting, other projects contributed during three field excursions.

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Today is Natura 2000 Day

NATURA 2000 Day

21 May 2014Natura 2000 Day is being celebrated today [21 May] all around Europe. Leading up to Natura 2000 Day people have been making small gestures of support, in the form of photographs of themselves with their hands in the shape of a butterfly. These have been uploaded on the Natura 2000 Day website and via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (tagged #Natura2000Day).

Just like the proverbial flapping of a butterfly's wings, even the smallest gestures can have great power. The aim is to spread awareness of the important role played by the largest network of protected sites in the world. The Natura 2000 network comprises over 26 000 sites, in which Europe's rich variety of natural habitats and species are protected.

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Sustainable food shopping debate launched

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046

19 May 2014Debating Europe and the LIFE project LiveWell for LIFE have launched their third and final of its series of online debates on sustainable consumption, ‘Are YOU prepared to change your shopping list in order to eat more sustainably?’.

The organisers welcome comments from all citizens, who can contribute their ideas here. The ongoing debate addresses the problem of food waste in the EU, where studies have shown that 90 million tonnes of food are being wasted annually.

Moreover, food accounts for 29% of all consumption-derived greenhouse gas emissions. Given the enormous environmental and public health impact of our dinner tables, what can be done to make food consumption and production more efficient and sustainable?

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LIFE project opens exhibition on the thick shelled river mussel

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046

14 May 2014An exhibition entitled “The magic world of the unio crassus” was opened on 22 April in Christinehof Castle, Brösarp, Sweden. The exhibit has been put together within the framework of the LIFE Nature project UC4LIFE(LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046). It explores the life of the thick shelled river mussel (Unio crassus) and work done by the LIFE project at Fyleån Creek in the Fyledalen Valley area – one of 12 sites where the project is taking place.

Many thick shelled river mussel populations have become extinct in Sweden. Those populations that still exist have a fragmented distribution in south-eastern Scandinavia (around 140 sites) and are endangered by adverse physical changes to their favoured habitat. UC4LIFE aims to improve the water quality, restore depressed riverine habitats and reintroduce Unio crassus where it has become extinct through site specific restoration measures in 12 different locations in Sweden.

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Vote with your hands for Natura 2000

Natura 2000 Day

13 May 2014 Natura 2000 Day will again be celebrated on 21 May, one year after it was first initiated in Spain by the LIFE Information and Communication project Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665).

The LIFE project, led by SEO/BirdLife and the EFE Agency, addresses the need for a greater appreciation of the objectives and maintenance needs of the European Natura 2000 network of protected areas. It aims to give citizens a better understanding of the ecosystem services provided by these areas, and knowledge to enhance their enjoyment of Europe’s natural heritage. As part of this aim, the LIFE project plans to make Natura 2000 Day an annual European-wide event.

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LIFE+: European Commission provides €282.6 million for 225 new environment and climate projects

LIFE+2013

30 April 2014 The European Commission has today approved funding for 225 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union's environment fund. The projects selected were submitted by beneficiaries in all 28 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across the EU. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €589.3 million, of which the EU will provide €282.6 million.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “In the final year of the current programming period, the LIFE+ programme once again demonstrates its ability to deliver essential financial support for environmental and nature conservation projects with significant added value for the EU. These latest projects will make a vital contribution to the preservation, conservation and enhancement of Europe’s natural capital, as well as helping to achieve sustainable growth through investment in a low carbon and resource efficient economy. The widely acknowledged success of LIFE+ and its projects has ensured the recent adoption of a new LIFE Regulation for Environment and Climate Action, with an increased budget, for the period 2014-2020”

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Bulgarian LIFE project celebrates return of lesser kestrels from Africa

(LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

29 April 2014On 18 March, the first lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) introduced to restore this species in Bulgaria returned from its migration to Africa. The LIFE project Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) had imported birds from Spain last year, and introduced them into the mountainous Sakar region in south-eastern Bulgaria. By the end of March, 16 of the introduced birds, plus a male that had accompanied one of the females, had returned from Africa, mated, dug nests and laid eggs.

The LIFE project is coordinated by the NGO Green Balkans. It aims to support and strengthen the population of globally endangered lesser kestrels in Bulgaria, through a series of direct actions and wider public involvement. The project runs until September 2017.

In addition to translocating around 170 chicks from collaborating partner DEMA, a breeding centre in Spain, the project is establishing a captive breeding project in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.

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Rohrschollen Island project restores Rhine connection

LIFE08 NAT/F/000471

24 April 2014The LIFE Nature project Rohrschollen Island (LIFE08 NAT/F/000471) celebrated the reconnection of the river Rhine with the island's waterways at an event attended by representatives of the coordinating beneficiary and partner organisations.

The event, which took place on 12 March, may have been the culmination of four years of work, but it is only a first step along a path towards the restoration of the island's alluvial dynamics and the protection of its riparian forests.

The Rohrschollen Island project began in 2010, with the aim of reintroducing the regular dynamic flooding of the Rhine onto the island - located 10 km north of Strasbourg - by the creation of a water intake structure on the island's south side. This will restore the ecological connections between the island and the river and ensure the survival of the island's willow and alder wood habitats.

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WECF sets out its recommendations for EU policy on EDCs

WEFC

24 April 2014 Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) held a Policy Dialogue meeting, ‘Time to Act – Protecting Children's Health from EDCs’ on 19 February 2014 in Brussels. Exposure to EDCs or endocrine-disrupting chemicals is particularly harmful to children’s health, and the meeting was organised to improve the understanding of policy-makers and stakeholders of this problem and increase support for urgent EU action.

WECF is currently coordinating a LIFE project, ChildProtect-Life (LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833), which is aiming to speed-up implementation of EU environmental regulations on the substitution of EDCs, in line with the EU 2020 goal of minimising adverse effects of chemicals on public health. The Brussels meeting was organised with the project partners Gezinsbond and PAN-Europe.

The beneficiary, WECF, is an international network of more than 150 women’s, environmental and health organisations. One of the key priorities for the network is EDCs, which, in the past few decades, have emerged as a key challenge for European environment and health policies. 

Recent scientific evidence shows that action is urgently needed to reduce EDC exposure, especially for women and children. A baby’s development can be irreversibly harmed by EDCs, and growing evidence shows that such exposure may result in permanent health damage to the child’s hormone system.

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LIFE Best Projects 2013: Nature, Environment and Information winners revealed

Best NAT

22 April 2014The Best LIFE projects completed by the end of 2013 will be honoured at two separate award ceremonies taking place in Brussels this spring.

Nature and Information

The first ceremony recognises the achievements of 13 LIFE projects targeting nature conservation and will take place on 29 April 2014. Eleven of the award-winners are LIFE Nature projects; the other two being LIFE Information & Communication projects with a nature conservation focus.

The event, which will feature short presentations by the winning projects, will be held from 17:30 onwards at meeting room 0D of the Centre de Conferences Albert Borschette (CCAB), rue Froissart 36. Brussels. The awards will be made in the presence of the Habitats and Ornis Committees, which are made up of Member State representatives following the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives.      

Environment and Information

The second award ceremony will take place in early June and honours the work of the Best LIFE Environment projects and Best LIFE Information and Communication projects addressing environmental themes completed in 2013.

Six projects have been awarded “Best of the Best” status, five from the LIFE Environment strand and one from LIFE Information & Communication.

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Manchester-based project releases films on recycling

LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389

16 April 2014Awareness-raising about recycling is a key focus of UP&FORWARD COMS (LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389), a LIFE Environment project in Greater Manchester, UK. The community-based project has just released two films on recycling as part of its wider campaign to persuade more residents to recycle their household rubbish. The films, produced by students at the University of Bolton, with the help of production company, Bellyfeel, target ‘hard-to-reach’ communities, i.e. inner-city areas that are traditionally low-performing in terms of recycling.

The first film, “Cheetham Hill Community Tidy Up (part 1 and 2)” targets the private rental market and landlords. It shows residents of the Cheetham Hill area coming together for a one-day community tidy up event. The second film, “Eco Faith” worked with religious groups and faith leaders of Oldham, Greater Manchester – choosing the month of Ramadan in 2013, to focus residents’ minds on looking after their environment through recycling.

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Launch of next LIFE call for projects provisionally set for June

LIFE LOGO

10 April 2014The first call for tender under the new LIFE programme (2014-2020) for Environment and Climate Action is provisionally set to launch 16 June 2014.

The call will cover ‘Traditional’ projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Capacity-Building projects.

It is important to remember that ‘traditional’ projects mean best-practice/demonstration/pilot/information projects (i.e. similar to those currently funded under LIFE+ Nature, Biodiversity, Environment and Information & Communication). The priority topics for ‘traditional’ projects in the Environment sub-programme have been set in the multi-annual work programme for 2014-2017, pages 8-24: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/about/index.htm#mawp

 

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LIFE work programme for 2014-2017 is approved

LIFE LOGO

19 March 2014The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017 has been adopted by a Commission Decision on 19 March 2014, after having received a positive opinion of the Committee for the LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action on 17 February 2014. The work programme applies from the date of its adoption and enters into force as of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. It will be published in all EU languages with the exception of Irish.

The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017 sets the framework for the next four years for the management of the new LIFE Programme 2014-2020. It contains an indicative budget, explains the selection methodology for projects and for operating grants and establishes outcome indicators for the two LIFE sub-programmes – for Environment and for Climate Action. The total budget for funding projects during the period covered amounts to €1.1 billion under the sub-programme for Environment and €0.36 billion under the sub-programme for Climate Action.

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LIFE GREENLYSIS project wins water innovation award

Photo: LIFE08 ENV/E/000118

12 March 2014 GREENLYSIS (LIFE08 ENV/E/000118), a Spanish LIFE project led by the water technology centre, CETaqua, in partnership with SUEZ-CIRSEE and SAFT Baterías, has been recognised by the International Water Association (IWA) in its 2014 Project Innovation Awards. The LIFE project has obtained the Honour Award for Europe and West Asia in the Applied Research category. This regional triumph means it will now be entered in the global awards at the IWA World Water Congress in Lisbon (21-26 September 2014).

The main objective of the GREENLYSIS project, which ran from January 2010 until the end of 2012, was to construct a pilot plant to demonstrate the viability of a new technology for separating outflows from wastewater treatment plants into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis.

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UK and Ireland stage successful LIFE Platform Meeting

LIFE LOGO

11 March 2014The inaugural UK and Ireland LIFE Platform Meeting was held in London on 9 December 2013. The event brought together representatives of nearly 30 LIFE projects, government ministries and other LIFE stakeholder organisations from Ireland and the UK, together with the LIFE Unit of the European Commission's DG Environment and the LIFE monitoring team (Astrale GEIE - HTSPE Ltd).

The platform meeting was an opportunity to address issues of common interest around the LIFE programme in general, as well as concerns related to specific projects. The LIFE project beneficiaries and stakeholders were able to learn from each other's experiences and to ask questions directly of people with the relevant programme expertise and oversight.
Themes for workshops were chosen based on the preferences and experiences of the participating LIFE projects.

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Project publishes steppe conservation book

Photo: Thomas Stephan

10 March 2014 The German LIFE project Steppenrasen Thüringens (LIFE07 NAT/D/000213) has produced a hardback book (456 pages) of the papers presented at its final conference in Erfurt, 3-6 June, 2012. The contributions, which are published in English and German, focus on steppe conservation in different regions of Germany and in other European countries.

Copies of Steppenlebensraume Europas – Gefährdung, Erhaltung Maßnahmen und Schutz (Hazard, conservation and protection) are available without charge, although the cost of packaging and postage must be covered.

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LIFE project helps save Egyptian Vultures in Sudan

Photo:Stoyan_Nikolov

24 February 2014 Years of work by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) the Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS), as well as joint efforts of the LIFE project "Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152) and the BirdLife UNDP/GEF project Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) have paid off. The Sudanese Government and the Sudanese Electricity company have agreed to switch off and replace a dangerous power line in the area of Port Sudan that has killed hundreds or even thousands of Egyptian Vultures and other birds over the years.

The Port Sudan area used to be the most important resting and feeding ground in Sudan for the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) during its exhausting autumn migration. The construction of the power line in the 1950s had a negative consequence for the species: large numbers of birds have been electrocuted when coming into contact with it. In 2010, BSPB and SWS began a series of actions to try and solve the problem, one of which is The Return of the Neophron.

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LIFE project breeds and reintroduces freshwater mussels to Spanish lake

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/E/000078

21 February 2014 The Spanish LIFE Nature project, PROYECTO ESTANY (LIFE08 NAT/E/000078), has successfully reintroduced hundreds of freshwater mussels to Banyoles Lake in Girona, Catalonia. This success was built on the project's efforts in developing the most successful captive breeding programme for freshwater mussels of the Unio genus in Europe.

The project recreated the delicate natural breeding cycle of the mussels in a laboratory near Banyoles Lake. They used water and sediment from the lake as well as 900 fish, on which the mussels depend during their parasitic larval stage. In multiple breeding cycles since 2011, the team have produced 130 000 young mussels - 80% U. mancus and 20% U. ravoisieri.

The team nurtured the mussels in the laboratory, thus avoiding the extremely dangerous early days of a mussel's life in its natural environment.

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LIFE highlights how river restoration can help provide natural flood protection

Photo:LIFE09 INF/UK/000032

20 February 2014 A UK-led LIFE project, RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032), has published a new report highlighting the importance of river restoration in Europe. Available in five languages (English, French, Dutch, Italian and Finnish), this timely publication emphasises the value of river restoration in terms of increased ecological quality, flood risk reduction and social and economic benefits.

Between 2010 and 2013 the project developed tools - including a website and RiverWiki - to help practitioners across Europe increase their knowledge, skills and opportunities to create networks in the field of river restoration.

The report River Restoration in Europe: The art of the possible brings together knowledge from the LIFE project and the recent European River Restoration Conference to provide policy-makers and river basin managers with a useful document for addressing the key policy and technical challenges ahead.

The new report is designed to raise awareness of the ability of river restoration to mitigate against the effects of climate change on river habitats.

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LIFE project identifies priorities for action for Natura 2000 network in England

Photo:Chris Gibson/Natural England

17 February 2014 The UK LIFE+ project IPENS (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000384) has published a report identifying 11 priorities for action to improve the condition of Natura 2000 sites in England. These priorities are part of a scoping exercise which will now be used to develop a strategic programme for management of the Natura 2000 network in England.

The project team conducted extensive analysis of available data sources and discussions with key stakeholders to identify the 11 priority threats and pressures facing Natura 2000 sites in England. These include habitat fragmentation, aerial nitrogen deposition, diffuse water pollution and coastal squeeze. The project will now develop ‘theme plans’, clarifying the nature of each issue and identifying (new) solutions across Natura 2000 sites.

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LIFE investment helps upward trend for Europe's bats

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/F/000473

12 February 2014 A new report by the European Environment Agency reveals that bat numbers in selected European countries increased by more than 40% between 1993 and 2011, an important correction to significant historic declines. According to EEA Executive Director, Hans Bruyninckx, the findings of the technical report on bats suggest "that targeted conservation policies over the last years have been successful. But many bat species are still endangered, so preserving their habitats is still an important priority."

The LIFE programme has been one key source of targeted spending in support of EU bat conservation objectives. Since 1992, there have been a total of 55 such projects, utilising some €54.8 million of EU funding, and mobilising almost €114 million in total, a significant part of which has been used to help the recovery of endangered bat species.

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LIFE Platform Meeting addresses Alternative Future Urban Mobility challenges

www.eltis.org/Harry Schiffer

07 February 2014 An extensive report on the LIFE+ Environment Platform Meeting on Alternative Future Urban Mobility, which took place in Berlin in November 2013, is now available to download.

The report was written by Thomas Mayer from the LIFE+ External Monitoring Team (Astrale), which was responsible for organising the Platform Meeting in collaboration with host LIFE project, Clean Air (LIFE11 ENV/DE/000495). The aim of this multi-faceted project is to build a network of local and regional authorities and NGOs to support the monitoring and implementation of the Air Quality Directive, including sharing best practice and improving citizen awareness.

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Top 5 LIFEnews stories of 2013

Photo:LIFE07 ENV/IT/000434

27 January 2014 In 2013, LIFEnews, the monthly LIFE newsletter, once again covered a wide range of key themes relating to the LIFE programme and EU environmental and nature conservation policy and practice. Here we count down the five most read articles of the year.

In fifth place is an article from March 2013 previewing the Climate Action sub-programme that has been introduced by the new LIFE Regulation for the period 2014-2020. Mette Quinn and Dominik Mayer from the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA), spoke about the objectives for the sub-programme and the timeline for its implementation. Preparing for LIFE's new Climate Action sub-programme

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MHyBus project demonstrates advantages of new fuel source for public transport

Photo:LIFE07 ENV/IT/000434

24 January 2014 The results of the first trials of a hydromethane-fuelled bus for urban public transport were presented at the final conference of the LIFE+ Environment project MHyBus (LIFE07 ENV/IT/000434) in Bologna, Italy on 19 December, 2013. The project, which was led by the Region of Emilia-Romagna, carried out tests to optimize the engine for hydromethane, prepared a prototype vehicle, designed and built a dedicated fuelling station and then carried out road tests.

The prototype vehicle travelled more than 45 000 km on public roads around Ravenna without technical problems. The project found that the optimal fuel blend was a mix of 85% methane and 15% hydrogen by volume.

In the opening speech of the conference, Alfredo Peri, the Regional Councillor for Transport in Emilia-Romagna, stressed the importance of initiatives such as MhyBus in taking concrete steps towards a more sustainable mobility and the creation of a regional value chain.

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New publication out! LIFE and Soil protection

LIFE and Soil protection

21 January 2014 With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this brand-new LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection.

The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFE's contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination.

The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE programme's contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channelled and have an even greater impact in future.

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Precursor study to new LIFE project reveals why migratory birds fly in V-formation

Photo:LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143

20 January 2014 Three scientists from the NGO Förderverein Waldrappteam, beneficiary of a new LIFE Biodiversity project that aims to reintroduce the critically-endangered northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) into Europe, are among the authors of a new scientific paper published by the journal Nature that reveals the secrets of why flocks of migratory birds fly in a V-formation.

The nine scientists – led by Steven Portugal - who co-authored the paper, 'Upwash exploitation and downwash avoidance by flap phasing in ibis formation flight', have seen their fascinating conclusions picked up by major media outlets around the world, including The New York Times, National Geographic, BBC and Spiegel, among many others.

The paper outlines the results of a data collection study, during which a group of 14 northern bald ibises underwent a human-led migration from Salzburg in Austria to southern Tuscany, Italy. Using new technology the team monitored the ibises as they flew in a V-formation, recording their position, speed, heading and every single wing flap over a 43-minute period.

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New publication out! Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature

Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature

17 January 2014 The latest LIFE Focus publication takes stock of the achievements to date of the LIFE Nature strand of the LIFE programme. Titled Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature, the 60-page brochure provides a user-friendly snapshot of the detailed assessments contained in the ex-post (after project's end) evaluations of LIFE projects.

This evaluation process involves visits by experts from the LIFE Monitoring Team to a random sampling of completed LIFE Nature projects a number of years after they have finished. Some 9% of all LIFE Nature projects have been evaluated thus far. As well as outlining the history and methodology of the ex-post evaluation process, this new publication draws on the results of that qualitative research, backed up by new interviews with key stakeholders across several EU Member States, to highlight the lessons that can be learned in terms of LIFE Nature's long-term impact and sustainability at both project and programme level.

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LIFE helps bring about allis shad breeding return to the Rhine

Photo: LIFE06 NAT/D/000005

14 January 2014 In 2008, LIFE-Projekt Maifisch (LIFE06 NAT/D/000005) first released allis shad (Alosa alosa) larvae into the Rhine system as part of an effort to bring this once abundant fish species back from extinction in this river system. Now, monitoring confirms that the allis shad has successfully spawned in the Rhine for the first time in more than half a century.

Three juvenile allis shad were detected in a cooling water outtake of a nuclear power plant on the upper Rhine late September 2013. Since the nearest location in which the species was reintroduced was some 100 km downstream, experts believe it is very unlikely that the specimens directly come from fish stocking measures undertaken by LIFE-Projekt Maifisch or the subsequent LIFE+ Nature project, Alosa alosa (LIFE09 NAT/DE/000008).

In mid-November 2013, a professional fisherman caught an adult allis shad near Wörth on the Upper Rhine. Biologists of the Universities of Koblenz-Landau and Düsseldorf confirm that this was a fully-spawned female, providing a further indication that the species has spawned successfully in the Rhine.

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LIFE project brings experts together at International Wolf Congress

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/IT/000325

13 January 2014 The LIFE Nature project WOLFNET (LIFE08 NAT/IT/000325) successfully staged an International Wolf Congress from 6-8 November in Caramanico Terme, in Italy's Majella National Park. The congress was organised as the final event of the LIFE project by the coordinating beneficiary, the Majella National Park, together with project partners Pollino National Park, Foreste Casentinesi National Park, the Zooprophylactic Institute of the Regions of Lazio and Tuscany, the Province of l'Aquila and the Italian environmental NGO, Legambiente.

More than 250 participants from 13 countries attended the high-level congress, which included 35 presentations on wolf conservation.

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Invasive species project recognised for social innovation

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/PT/000075

10 January 2014 A Portuguese LIFE Nature project targeting the recovery of habitats threatened by invasive plant species has received the 2013 António Mota Award (http://premiomam.mota-engil.pt/) in recognition of its commitment to social inclusion. 

The BRIGHT project (LIFE10 NAT/PT/000075) has involved a team of seven convicts from Coimbra Regional Prison, who work alongside the beneficiary’s staff on control and conservation tasks. Demonstrating the value of this collaboration, the first of the prisoners to complete his jail sentence has since become a full-time member of the project team.

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New LIFE Regulation published: programme continues to 2020

LIFE LOGO

09 January 2014The new LIFE Regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, the official record of EU legislation. The Regulation - which was published on 20 December 2013 - establishes the Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes of the LIFE Programme for the next funding period, 2014–2020. The budget for the period is set at €3.4 billion in current prices.

The LIFE programme will contribute to sustainable development and to the achievement of the objectives and targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the 7th Union Environmental Action Programme and other relevant EU environment and climate strategies and plans.

The ‘Environment’ strand of the new programme covers three priority areas: environment and resource efficiency; nature and biodiversity; and environmental governance and information. The ‘Climate Action’ strand covers climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; and climate governance and information.

The programme also consists of a new category of projects, jointly funded integrated projects, which will operate on a large territorial scale. These projects will aim to implement environmental and climate policy and to better integrate such policy aims into other policy areas.

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