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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 >>
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The principal objectives of the Marine Thematic Report were as follows:
26 September 2014 The Vindel River LIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/S/000266) has concluded by staging an international conference on stream restoration entitled ‘Reviving waters’. The three-day event, which was held in Lycksele, Sweden from 22-24 September 2014, gathered 104 attendees from seven EU Member States for some 30 presentations, a poster session and a field trip to project sites.
Speakers included academic researchers and river restoration practitioners drawn from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ireland and the UK. LIFE projects represented included MulkearLIFE in Ireland (LIFE07 NAT/IRL/000342), LIVEDRAVA in Slovenia (LIFE11 NAT/SI/000882), UC4LIFE (LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046) and ReMiBar (LIFE10 NAT/SE/000045) in Sweden and the UK project, RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032). There was also a presentation on the preparation of Finland’s first proposal for an Integrated Project (on freshwaters), a new category of LIFE project introduced this year.
25 September 2014 Greater Manchester-based (UK) recycling project, LIFE+ UP and Forward has added three more films to its awareness raising campaign to persuade hard to reach communities to recycle more of their household rubbish. The project, which runs until June 2015, has also held its first seminar – attracting professionals in the field of recycling from across the UK. The films, produced by students at the University of Bolton with the help of production company Bellyfeel, target inner-city areas of Greater Manchester (North West England) that are traditionally low-performing in terms of recycling.
The first film, “The Recycler” is a comedy drama about a woman who is confused about her household recycling until a local ‘ambassador’ comes to her ‘rescue’ in the style of an action film. The second film, “Beat the Bin Men” is about a fun recycling game for local residents and depicts people floundering around in gunge and enjoying inflatable obstacle courses. The third film, “Golden Ticket” shows the awarding of a prize for community recycling to a local school.
15 September 2014 Dryden Aqua has been announced as one of 12 UK finalists for the 2014 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). Presented by the European Commission every two years, the EBAE recognise and reward European companies that set an example by successfully bringing together innovation, economic viability and environmental concerns.
A Scotland-based SME, Dryden Aqua is one of only four UK finalists for the product & service category, where it is competing with its Activated Filter Media (AFM) technology. AFM is a chemically-altered filtration medium manufactured from recovered green container glass that was developed with the assistance of the LIFE 'AFM' project (LIFE02 ENV/UK/000146), which ran from 2002 to 2005. LIFE co-finance helped establish that AFM could remove at least 30% more unwanted solids and dissolved pollutants from drinking water compared to high quality silica sand and that it could improve the performance of most drinking water treatment systems and reduce the incidence of disease, whilst also delivering substantial operational costs and carbon savings.
11 September 2014 The LIFE Environment project CSP (Celtic Seas Partnership - LIFE11 ENV/UK/000392) has produced a short animation to help explain how the EU is protecting its marine environment.
The three-minute video, which has been posted on the Commission’s DG Environment Facebook page, explains the goals of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Celtic Seas Partnership project. The LIFE project is bringing together sea users, industry, governments and the scientific community across the Celtic Seas - an OSPAR-defined region of the North-East Atlantic that includes the Celtic Sea, Bristol Channel, Irish Sea and parts of the Atlantic Ocean - in order to find ways of achieving healthy and sustainable seas.
In 2008, the EU introduced the MSFD to protect and manage our seas and oceans in a sustainable way. The LIFE project is “supporting the delivery” of the directive, says Dr Lyndsey Dodds, the project manager. “[It is] working to put the people that use the sea at the heart of management and offer them the opportunity to influence how their marine environment will be managed in the years to come,” she says.
05 September 2014 A final conference organised to mark the closure of the European LIFE+ ENV project CLIMATE (LIFE09 ENV/FR/000598) was held earlier this summer in the French department of Essonne. While tackling the serious matter of how to assist French and European regions to better adapt to climate change events (e.g. droughts, floods and hail storms) the event also brought a touch of humour to the proceedings through a series of climate change-themed cartoon drawings.
The overall objective of the 2010-14 project, “CLIMATE - Changing Living Modes: Acting in our Territory for the Environment” was to stimulate a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Essonne department – and subsequently in other regions – through a series of measures organised around five main areas of work. These included the development of eco-business activities, encouraging the use of sustainable house design technologies, stimulating the adoption of alternatives to single vehicle usage, combating energy shortages and reducing internal emissions of GHGs by the local council (Conseil general de l’Essonne), the project beneficiary.
04 September 2014 The latest LIFE Focus publication highlights the work of the LIFE programme in tackling threats to Europe's air. Titled LIFE and air quality, the 72-page brochure focuses on LIFE's role in helping to effectively and cost-effectively implement the extensive body of EU policy instruments relating to air.
The publication includes an insightful introduction to the topic, including interviews with an air quality expert from the European Environment Agency and one of the participants in a pioneering pilot exercise designed to help European cities better implement EU air policy.
Thematic chapters look at LIFE's contribution to air quality across a number of key sectors: transport and urban mobility; monitoring and modelling; capacity building; encouraging behavioural change; agriculture; and industry, waste and energy This programme-level analysis is supported by specific project examples from across the EU, including in-depth case studies that can serve as an inspiration to policy-makers and project leaders, farmers and enterprises, organisations and citizens throughout Europe.
03 September 2014The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) invites non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of environment and/or climate action to present proposals for the LIFE operating grants. These grants cover certain administrative and operational costs for the financial year 2015.
The objective of the call is to promote better environmental and/or climate governance by broadening the involvement of stakeholders, including NGOs, in policy consultation and implementation. The expected result is to support the strengthening of civil society participation in the dialogue process of environmental and/or climate policy development and implementation.
02 September 2014The Spanish Government has created 39 new protected areas for birds in the marine environment based on the work of two Spanish LIFE projects: Marine IBAs (Important Bird Areas for Seabirds) (LIFE04 NAT/ES/000049); and INDEMARES (LIFE07 NAT/E/000732). The new designations have multiplied by 20 the protected area for seabirds in Spain, which now covers almost 50 000 km2.
The 39 sites have been designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the EU’s Birds Directive and brought into the Natura 2000 Network. Their formal approval has been the culmination of 10 years’ work under the two LIFE projects. The Marine IBAs project (2004-2009) created a standard methodology to identify marine IBAs and conducted a detailed inventory, leading to an initial proposal of new marine SPAs for Spain.