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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 >>

European Land Conservation Network to be LIFE project's legacy

Landlife manual

26 November 2015 Representatives of the LandLife project (LIFE10 INF/ES/000540 ), were amongst the more than 100 people from around the world who participated in the 2nd International Land Conservation Network (ILCN) Congress , in Berlin from 19-21 October 2015.

The congress saw participating organisations from the EU create a European chapter of the ILCN: the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN). This marked a key step towards achieving the LandLife project's vision that, by 2020, land stewardship will become a widely accepted land management approach on all kinds of landscapes across Europe for helping to preserve Europe's natural beauty and resources.

The European congress delegates exchanged experiences with long-established land trust organisations in the USA and Canada, and with countries like South Africa and Chile that are in the process of building land trust systems. Participants agreed that, while conserving the grassroots approach at local level, the ELCN would also have to define and harmonise EU-wide standards and practices, provide legal guidance at national level, and help build trust between the nature conservation community and private landowners.


Commission awarded 26 action grants in first year of LIFE Climate Action projects


25 November 2015 The European Commission has announced the first recipients of LIFE Climate Action funding. It has awarded action grants to 26 projects in 11 Member States. The projects represent a total investment of some €73.9 million. The EU will provide €36.75 million of this figure. The projects cover actions in the fields of climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and climate governance and information.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: “These projects demonstrate EU support for practical action to meet climate obligations ahead of the Paris Climate Conference. They show that it is possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. LIFE is contributing to a shift towards a low carbon, resource efficient and climate-resilient economy.”


LIFE project wins Natura 2000 Award

Photo:LIFE11 INF/ES/000665

24 November 2015A Natura 2000 Award (European Citizen category) was recently presented to SEO/BirdLife, Agencia EFE and BirdLife Europe, the beneficiaries of the ‘LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity’ project (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665), at a presentation in the Campo de Montiel Natura 2000 network site in the Spanish region of Castile-La Mancha. Daniel Calleja Crespo, the Director-General for the European Commission’s Environment Directorate, handed over the award to the project beneficiaries for their work in establishing a ‘Natura 2000 Day’.

The first Natura 2000 Day was held on 21 May 2013, and the LIFE project team hope it will continue to be held annually on this date. The LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000 project’s overall objective is to improve awareness of the Natura 2000 network, with Natura 2000 Day being the first campaign targeted at EU citizens to encourage them to get to know and support the European network of protected areas. For further information, visit the project’s website.


German school pupils help increase oak-hornbeam forest in western Germany

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/DE/000147

23 November 2015Pupils of the Heinrich Böll Secondary School near Cologne, Germany, are helping the LIFE project Ville Forests (LIFE13 NAT/DE/000147) to increase the area of oak-hornbeam forest in western Germany. At the end of October the 11-year-olds made trays, filled them with locally collected acorns and placed them in selected spruce stands for the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) to collect and hide over winter.

Using the jay as an aide to spread acorns is a traditional method of encouraging oak regeneration in conifer monocultures. The aim is to eventually convert these conifer patches into predominantly oak habitats.

The jay hoards large number of acorns in the autumn to make sure it has enough food for the winter. Not all of the acorns get eaten and those that don't then germinate in the spring, producing young oaks that will hopefully grow into adult trees.


European Commission invests € 160.6 million in 96 new environment projects

Photo:Nicola Caputo

20 November 2015The European Commission has approved funding for 96 new projects in 21 Member States under its LIFE programme for the Environment. These projects represent a total investment of € 264.8 million, of which the EU will provide € 160.6 million. They cover actions in the field of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "Money invested in environment projects is money well spent. I am delighted to see that our LIFE programme will support many innovative projects, and I am sure they will make a vital contribution. As well as protecting and enhancing natural capital, there are many promising avenues here that will help steer Europe towards a low-carbon, resource efficient and sustainable future. We will follow these projects carefully, with a view to sharing and replicating their success."


European Parliament LIFE workshop outlines effective ways forward

Photo:Nicola Caputo

17 November 2015At a recent workshop at the European Parliament - ‘LIFE – How to use €3.46 billion for environment and climate protection’ (10 November), - Angelo Salsi, head of unit, LIFE and CIP Eco-innovation, EASME, said that the increased budget for LIFE in the 2014-2020 funding period was an "endorsement of the quality of work" performed by the programme.

The workshop, which was organised by the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee in cooperation with the LIFE Working Group, explored ways in which the current edition of LIFE can make an effective contribution to the achievement of environmental protection and climate change targets. It was aimed at members of the ENVI Committee and all participants of the LIFE programme.

The event was chaired by Italian MEP Nicola Caputo and Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica, who are the co-chairs of the LIFE Working Group, ENVI Committee. The first part examined the new programme, while the second half of the workshop focused on improving the LIFE programme’s effectiveness and the promotion of good practices.


Efforts to combat Dutch elm disease in Gotland awarded

Photo:LIFE12 NAT/SE/001139

16 November 2015The LIFE-ELMIAS award was recently presented to 25 people at the annual Meadow Day at Väskinde community centre, Gotland, Sweden. The award recognises the special efforts the awardees have made in the fight against Elms disease on the Swedish island as part of the LIFE project LIFE- ELMIAS (LIFE12 NAT/SE/001139). The awards were presented for the second year running.

LIFE-ELMIAS is a five-year project aiming to carry out activities to safeguard threatened habitats including Fennoscandian wooded meadows and Fennoscandian old broad-leaved deciduous forests. These habitats make up almost 70% of the old growth tree layer on Gotland and contain 17% of the Swedish population of old elms and 24% of the old ash.


LIFE project surveys awareness of climate change resilience in Italy


12 November 2015All European regions will be affected by climate change, but the impacts will depend on the local context. Climate change therefore needs to be addressed at local level, through local actions and planning strategies, as well as at national, European, and global level, such as the UN Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris next month.

The BLUE AP project (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000119) developed a local Adaptation Plan to Climate Change for Bologna (Italy), which defined strategies and measures for alleviating climate change impacts such as water shortages, heatwaves, and heavy precipitation and flooding. The measures included ‘green’ and ‘blue’ infrastructure approaches, including green roofs and facades, rainfall harvesting and sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).Further information about the project can be found on its website.


LIFE project publishes Natura 2000 Network Handbook for journalists

Activa Red Natura 2000

06 November 2015The LIFE ‘Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity’ project has released its new publication ‘Natura 2000 Network Handbook for journalists’ in digital form, in Spanish and English versions. The handbook contains useful information on the Natura 2000 network, and an assessment of the weaknesses and strengths that hinder or foster communications concerning the network of European protected areas.

The Handbook for journalists was developed from a communications workshop on the Natura 2000 network organised by the LIFE project’s coordinating beneficiary SEO/BirdLife, the EFE news agency and the Association of Environmental Information Journalists (APIA). The workshop was held in Madrid in December 2013.


First PVC-free blood bags tested

Photo: LIFE10 ENV/SE/000037

03 November 2015The Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm has carried out the first in vitro tests of PVC-free blood bags.

The hospital is a partner in the LIFE project ‘PVCFreeBloodBag’ (LIFE10 ENV/SE/000037), which was set up to address the lack of incentives for blood bag manufacturers to create PVC-free blood bags.

To this end, the project is demonstrating that public healthcare organisations and private plastics manufacturers can co-operate in removing barriers to PVC-free blood bags.


Birds-eye video raises awareness of La Mancha wetlands

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563

23 October 2015 The LIFE La Mancha project (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563) is raising awareness of the importance of the La Mancha wetlands in Central Spain via an innovative video made using geo-journalism tools. By overlapping project information and online images, the video illustrates the exact locations and range of project actions.

“Google Earth has a huge potential to show information, from a global and local point of view, to help us understand our closest environment,” points out the project’s video-maker Eduardo García Milagros.

An essential part of the project is to raise awareness of the importance of the La Mancha wetlands, which are less well-known than other wetlands in the region.


LIFE and Land Stewardship report published

LIFE and Land Stewardship report

16 October 2015 The LIFE external monitoring team (NEEMO) has just published a thematic report entitled LIFE and Land Stewardship: Current status, challenges and opportunities. In this report to the European Commission, the authors assess the contribution made by the LIFE programme in engaging private stakeholders in nature conservation. The comprehensive report also explores how LIFE projects could further contribute to land stewardship agreements throughout the EU.

Land stewardship is defined as a strategy to involve landowners and land users (such as farmers, foresters, hunters, fishers and recreationalists) in the conservation of nature and landscape, with the support of a range of civil society groups. The implementation of voluntary agreements between these groups offers an important means of extending conservation practices beyond the boundaries of the Natura 2000 network and other conventionally protected areas.


European Week for Waste Reduction - doing more with less


16 October 2015 The 2015 edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) takes place from the 21-29 November 2015. The EWWR consists of multiple activities taking place around Europe that promote awareness about sustainable resource and waste management. This year’s edition will have a particular focus on dematerialisation – doing more with less.

Dematerialisation includes the idea of replacing products with services, as well as of improving the use of materials (through product reuse, substituting materials or by using fewer materials for a specific function). Solutions such as the sharing economy, services replacing products and improved materials are important for resource efficiency.


Natura 2000 Award: Call for applications

Natura 2000 AWARDS

15 October 2015 You may now submit your applications for the third edition of the Natura 2000 awards.

The pan-European awards celebrate excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation. The European Commission launched the annual awards to showcase the added value of the network and to increasing public awareness about Europe's valuable natural heritage.

The awards comprise five different categories: Communication; Socio-Economic Benefits; Conservation; Reconciling Interests / Perceptions; and Cross-border Cooperation and Networking. An additional European Citizens' Award was introduced for the first time in 2015.


MoorLIFE 2020 becomes UK's largest ever LIFE Nature project

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

12 October 2015 The Moors for the Future Partnership, which works to protect priority international habitats in the Peak District and South Pennines, has received €16 million to deliver the MoorLIFE 2020 project.

This includes €12 million from LIFE, the largest award the programme has ever given to a UK-based conservation project. Additional funding is provided by the utility companies, Severn Trent Water United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.

The new project builds on 12 years of partnership work protecting large areas of the moors, including actions carried out as part of an earlier LIFE project (MoorLIFELIFE08 NAT/UK/000202). The €16 million of funding will enable the partnership to expand its work hugely, protecting the integrity of 9 500 hectares of active blanket bog through re-vegetating bare peat, improving hydrology and diversifying existing vegetation.


LIFE carbon footprint calculator becomes footwear industry standard

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/ES/000315

25 September 2015 The Spanish Association for Standardisation and Certification (AENOR) has validated a carbon footprint calculation tool for the footwear industry developed by the LIFE project CO2SHOE (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000315). The computer-based tool is now operational as ‘Standard ISO/TS 14067 – Carbon footprint of products’.

Calculating carbon footprints for footwear is challenging, because greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be determined for many components (such as leather, plastics and textiles) and for a series of processes. LIFE project beneficiary INESCOP, the Spanish Footwear Technology Institute, achieved this goal by developing an innovative and user-friendly tool in partnership with the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC), the Spanish Federation of Footwear Industries (FICE), and technology companies in Italy, Poland and Portugal.


LIFE GtoG project releases report on best practice indicators for gypsum recycling


22 September 2015 The GtoG (from Gypsum to Gypsum) project (LIFE 11 ENV/BE/001039) has produced a report on best practice indicators (BPIs) for increasing recovery rates of waste gypsum in Europe. The ‘Report on Best Practice Indicators for Deconstruction, Recycling and Reincorporation Practices’ defines BPIs that will help optimise the quality and the amount of recycled gypsum, so that more of it can be reincorporated into manufacturing processes.

A large proportion of gypsum waste currently goes to landfill, for example, in the form of gypsum blocks and plasterboard. The GtoG project is working to create a recycling culture by building a resource-efficient circular economy around gypsum.


Dutch public health chief receives EDC petition

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833

17 September 2015 A petition against the use of hormone disrupting chemicals in products for children has been presented to Angelique Berg, the Director General Public Health in the Netherlands.

The petition, which was signed by 2 700 people, was drawn up under the LIFE project, ChildProtect-Life (LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833). It was handed over at a meeting between a number of representative groups and Dutch health ministry.

The meeting was an opportunity for parents to express their concerns about the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the development and well being of their children. The petition was signed by parents earlier this year at the Sustainable Baby Plaza at the Nine Months Fair in Amsterdam.


Swedish King visits Vindel River LIFE

Photo:Martin Falklind

14 September 2015 Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf participated in a conference and private salmon fishing trip, organised as part of the Vindel River LIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/S/000266). The King opened the project’s ‘Healthy Salmon Rivers’ conference which ran from 18-20 August 2015. He participated in seminars on the first day and joined the second day’s excursion. He was also given a private guided tour to one of the Vindel river tributaries (Ruskträsk), where the project has been restoring existing salmon spawning beds, as well as constructing new ones.

"We need to work further to generate more good examples similar to Ruskträsk stream to thereby restore lost habitat for aquatic species,” the King said in a (Swedish) press release.


LIFE projects help Austrian river reach prestigious final

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/A/000614

11 September 2015 Austria’s Mur river has been selected as one of the three finalists in the 2015 Thiess International Riverprize. This prestigious annual award, is given by the International River Foundation (IRF) to a waterway that is judged as having achieved the most outstanding results in river management, restoration or protection. The other finalists in this global competition are the Lake Eyre Basin in Australia and the Jordan River in Jordan. The winner will be announced on 22 September 2015 at a gala event in Brisbane, Australia.

Rudolf Hornich, coordinator of flood risk management within the department of  water management, resources and sustainability of the Styrian Provincial Government, the competent authority for the Mur says, “part of this success are the LIFE projects at the upper river Mur, provided with the assistance of the European Union.”


JRC studies LIFE projects for compelling biodiversity argumentation

10 September 2015 Angelika Müller and Joachim Maes of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) have analysed 365 projects on the LIFE Nature projects database, to investigate the most effective means of persuading stakeholders about the value of nature restoration projects.

Entitled, Arguments for biodiversity conservation in Natura 2000 sites: An analysis based on LIFE projects, the paper was published on 24 August 2015 in the journal Nature Conservation. The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with 14 LIFE Nature project managers for the study, which was conducted within the framework of the EU-funded BESAFE project.

The case for biodiversity conservation can be made using instrumental and non-instrumental arguments. Instrumental arguments focus on economic and social factors, while non-instrumental arguments stress the inherent value of biodiversity and its role in human well-being. Stakeholder groups responded differently to the different types of argument.


Rare Spanish flower celebrated in song

Photo:LIFE11 BIO/ES/000727

09 September 2015 The ‘rebirth’ of a flower once feared extinct is cause for song and dance. The re-emergence of Garbancillo de Tallante (Astragalus nitidiflorus), which was declared extinct in 2003, is celebrated in a specially-composed song.  

The CONSERVASTRATRAGALUS-MU LIFE project (LIFE11 BIO/ES/000727) was set up in 2011 to strengthen existing populations of the rare plant species and to improve understanding of it. The song, a jaunty Spanish folk number, celebrates the inclusion of the endangered flower on the IUCN Red List.

Garbancillo de Tallante is an herbaceous, leguminous plant that flowers in spring for a period of two to three months, producing pale yellow flowers that have greenish yellow keels. The plant, which has a life span of four to five years, is found exclusively in the semi-arid Mediterranean areas of Cartegena, Murcia.


LIFE Northern Bald Ibis project leads juvenile bird migration to Tuscany

Photo:LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143

08 September 2015 After a total of 18 days, another human-led northern bald ibis migration headed by members of the LIFE Northern Bald Ibis project (LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143) has reached its destination, the wintering area Laguna die Orbetello in Italy, on 8 September. The group composed of 31 juvenile birds – 28 of which completed the migration – and two microlight aircraft carrying the birds’ human “foster parents” and their pilots had taken to the air on 22 August.

Over the last few months, the birds had been reared and trained in captivity by their foster parents from the project team, who followed the birds from Seekirchen am Wallersee (Austria) over the Alps to Laguna di Orbetello, a WWF Oasi in southern Tuscany. On the first flight day, they covered 118 km of a total distance of approximately 1 000 km.


While you were away…

A Frantzis/pelagos cetacean research institute

07 September 2015 July and August typically means holiday time for Europeans, however many of the LIFE community have avoided the beach and remained busy this summer. Here is a brief summary of some of the LIFE stories you may have missed while on vacation…

Policymakers and practitioners continued to digest lessons from EU Green Week 2015. The biggest annual conference on European environment policy was held in Brussels from 3-5 June. Naturally, LIFE played an important part in the event. See for yourself in the LIFE Green Week video.

Beyond Green Week, the news section of the LIFE website has featured activities ranging from successful conservation measures; unusual species reintroduction; protection of extremely rare birds; award-winning waste-reducing initiatives and smart communications.


Scottish project challenges students to make innovative use of data

Photo: LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182

31 August 2015 The LIFE project SEWEb (Scotland's environment Web - LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182) organised a 'hackathon' on 30-31 May 2015 at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. Students from across Scotland were invited to the event, EcoHack 2015, to generate new ideas on collecting, viewing and making better use of data.

A hackathon involves programmers and others collaborating to create new applications or software. The SEWeb project aims to develop an advanced environmental information system that can expand access to the European Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) and to engage the general public in the protection of the environment. To this end, the event in May fitted the project's goals of making data more available on a wider scale, as well as encouraging public interest and involvement in the environment.


German project seeks radical ideas on improving sustainability

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/DE/000342

28 August 2015 The LIFE project Sustainability Maker (LIFE11 ENV/DE/000342) has launched a new challenge to find the most visionary ideas on how biomimetics can be combined with 3D-printing to generate more sustainable solutions.

The project aims to use the opportunities of presented by new media and other innovative, bottom up strategies to resolve urgent sustainability problems. Consequently, it has created an open innovation platform and network, 'Sustainability Maker', offering a collaborative approach to finding creative solutions. This will bring together people who have identified sustainability-related challenges with those developing solutions. The project will also help secure funding for such initiatives.

The newly launched challenge - Radical Sustainability through Biomimetics and 3D-Printing - has been initiated by Bionik-Netzwerk Hessen (Biomimetics Network Hessen) and the Association of German Industrial Designers (VDID).


Volunteers go fishing to help the threatened saramugo

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/PT/000786

26 August 2015 The LIFE project Saramugo (LIFE13 NAT/PT/000786) is currently conducting a campaign to remove invasive fish species from the Vascão stream in southern Portugal with the help of volunteers from all over the country. The invasive species are a threat to the survival of the endemic saramugo (Anaecypris hispanica), a small freshwater fish listed as ‘critically endangered’ in the ‘Portuguese Red Book of Vertebrates’.

The campaign, one of many actions undertaken by the project, targets three of the most common invasive fish species in the region, namely the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), chameleon cichlid (Australoheros facetus), and pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibossus).


Slovak project installs innovative bird flight diverters

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272

21 August 2015 The project LIFE ENERGY (LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272) has unveiled a new system for protecting 110 kV power lines against collision with birds at a site near Lemešany in Slovakia. The installation is a major conservation measure of the LIFE project, whose overall goal is to safeguard endangered raptors and other bird species in the area.

The project is planning to “map over 8 000 km of power lines throughout eastern and western Slovakia, and identify the areas with high risk of bird collisions”, explained project manager Lucia Deutschová. In these areas, ‘flight diverters’ or visibility markers that the birds recognise and fly over are being installed. “In Slovakia, we can save annually thousands of birds, including many endangered species,” she added.


Water buffalo wetland grazing introduced to Germany

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/DE/000012

20 August 2015 Grazing water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) on rewetted land in Brandenburg are attracting much local interest. The buffaloes were reintroduced in July by a German LIFE project in order to improve the condition of close reed beds and bogs. More than 50 curious locals have already been to see the animals up close.

The Schreiadler Schorfheide project (LIFE10 NAT/DE/000012) was launched to rewet bogs by closing the drainage of wetland areas. Its aim is to improve the breeding and feeding habitats of the lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) corncrake (Crex crex) and the aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) in the SPA "Schorfheide-Chorin".


NCFF Introduction Webinar, save the date!


18 August 2015 The NCFF will be presented by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank during a live webinar on 3 September 2015. The NCFF finances pro-biodiversity and pro-climate change adaptation projects across Europe.

The webinar will among others provide you with information about:

  • The project categories which can benefit from NCFF financing;
  • The NCFF eligibility criteria;
  • The NCFF Support Facility;
  • The application process to access to NCFF financing.


Rare petrel released in Réunion

Photo:LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075

18 August 2015 An extremely rare bird, the focus of a LIFE project, has been released from a care centre on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. The Mascarene black petrel (Pseudobulweria aterrima), a species endemic to the island, had been taken into the centre for observation after it was grounded. The attraction of city lights is believed to be the reason that several young petrels, mostly Barau's petrel (Pterodroma baraui), have fallen to ground in recent months.

The care centre is run by the Société d'Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion, a partner in the ongoing project LIFE+ Petrels (LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075) that was launched to prevent the extinction of both species of petrel. Island residents were involved in the rescue of the grounded birds. The Mascarene black petrel was found in the town of Salazie by an islander (4 July) and brought to the centre to recover before being released six days later.

The Mascarene black petrel is one of rarest bird species in the world and is listed as being in critical danger of extinction by the IUCN. It was considered to have disappeared from Réunion for more than 70 years but was rediscovered in 1970. The recent grounding of an individual was the first since 2004.


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