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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 >>
06 February 2015 Although the 2015 call for proposals for LIFE action grants has yet to be published, an indicative timetable for the Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes is now available from the LIFE website. It details the provisional opening and closing dates for each type of grant.
26 February 2015 Ireland’s BurrenLIFE project (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125) has produced innovations in results-based approaches to agri-environment action that have been highlighted as good practice by EU rural development authorities. This accolade comes from the first phase of a new initiative by the European Parliament and European Commission promoting wider uptake by Member States of results-based agri-environment payment schemes (RBAPS).
Whilst the LIFE programme has supported many projects that have fed into the development of management-based agri-environment schemes, the BurrenLIFE project is a pioneer of this new results-based approach to agri-environment payment. RBAPS differ from conventional agri-environment schemes because they focus their payments on recorded biodiversity results, rather than compensating for specific land management actions.
20 February 2015 With the start of the project LIFE Berlengas (LIFE13 NAT/PT/000458) in June 2014 the Portuguese Government and SPEA (BirdLife International Portugal) began work to ensure the sustainable management of the Berlengas archipelago, in particular its endemic flora and seabird population.
The group of islands is a popular tourist destination that lies 10 to 15 kilometres off the Portuguese coast, west of the town of Peniche and is a designated Natura 2000 network site. The main aim of the project is to establish a legally-binding management plan with clear, measurable actions and targets for archipelago.
18 February 2015 A new in-depth thematic report on LIFE and forests has just been published. Authored by An Bollen and Darline Velghe from the LIFE programme’s external monitoring team, the 118-page publication gives an insight into the diversity of LIFE+ forest projects, analyses revealing trends and evaluates their overall relevance to EU forest policy.
The Forest Thematic Report is intended to provide useful insights for EU decision- and policy-makers, to share lessons learned amongst project practitioners, to disseminate results more broadly, to showcase projects for future LIFE applicants, to account for spending of EU public funds and to raise awareness on new approaches.
17 February 2015 In anticipation of the award of the first action grants from the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action, the latest LIFE Environment Focus publication takes an in-depth look at LIFE's work till now in support of climate change mitigation.
The LIFE and Climate change mitigation brochure gives an overview of EU climate policy and provides a host of best practice examples from more than 200 featured projects from across the European Union.
With a foreword by EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, the 88-page publication includes interviews with representatives of DG Climate Action and with NGOs active in the field. These highlight the climate mitigation challenges ahead and LIFE's role in the transition to low-carbon agriculture.
16 February 2015 Migrating birds share the burden of leading the flock in v-formation flight to save energy, a part LIFE-funded study now published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has found.
The ground-breaking research, which was supported by the LIFE project Northern Bald Ibis - Reason for Hope - Reintroduction of Northern Bald Ibis in Europe, is generating huge public interest with the story being picked up by major media outlets across Europe and beyond, including the BBC, Spiegel, etc.
12 February 2015 The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a close look at the work LIFE projects have done to protect threatened freshwater fish species and improve their habitats. The 64-page brochure, LIFE and freshwater fish, highlights the status of key species and the threats they face, as well as providing an overview of LIFE's efforts to improve their conservation status, help in the management of the Natura 2000 network, and meet the targets set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
Since 1992, more than 135 LIFE projects have directly targeted over 50 threatened freshwater fish species listed in the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive or in the IUCN European Red List. Hundreds more projects have indirectly benefitted fish populations through restoration of river, lake and other habitats vital to the lifecycle of freshwater and migratory fish populations.
11 February 2015 Two new LIFE brochures are now available to access online. An achievements brochure outlines the broad range of activities funded by LIFE operating grants for NGOs in 2013, while the NGO compilation brochure overviews all the NGOs funded under this aspect of the LIFE programme in 2014.
Last year, 28 NGOs successfully applied to the European Commission for LIFE operational grants totalling around €9 million (19% of the total budget). These NGOs focus on a wide range of fields including nature and biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of resources, water quality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental education and awareness raising, clean transport and sustainable production, farming and food consumption.
The 2013 NGO achievements brochure highlights the specific achievements of four environmental NGOs covering different policy areas, namely: Carbon Disclosure Project, Health Care Without Harm, NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Slow Food. It gives short profiles of the NGOs and their environmental aims, outlining how the operational grants have enabled them to meet those goals in 2013.
09 February 2015 Work preventing bird electrocutions on power lines carried out by LIFE+ Save the Raptors (LIFE07/NAT/BG000068) has been recognised by the international Renewables-Grid-Initiative (RGI). The project beneficiary – the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB - BirdLife partner) – was presented with the good practice award, in the environmental protection category, at RGI’s annual conference, held in Brussels in January 2015.
Accepting the award on behalf of the BSPB, Svetoslav Spasov, project manager said, “I am delighted that in two particular cases we were able to secure the over-head power lines and prevent the death of many eastern imperial eagles in Bulgaria and Egyptian vultures in Sudan. There’s a lot still to do though – for a permanent solution, we need active cooperation and partnership between state authorities, private electric companies and the nature conservation community.”
28 January 2015 The BiodivERsA ERA-Net has announced that it will launch a new call for pan-European biodiversity research proposals. The call, with an indicative global budget of roughly €30 million, is due to be launched in May 2015 with a closing date in early November 2015.
The call – co-funded by the European Commission – will cover two themes:
27 January 2015 Today Commissioners Arias Cañete and Vella, the European Commission and EIB Vice-President for Environment and Climate Action Jonathan Taylor have launched two financial instruments funded through the LIFE Programme for Environment and Climate Action.
The Private Finance for Energy Efficiency Instrument (PF4EE) aims to address the limited access to adequate and affordable loan financing for energy efficiency projects targeted by schemes developed by EU Member States to implement their Nation Energy Efficiency Action Plans. The Commission has committed €80 million for 2014-17 anticipating an eightfold leverage effect. The PF4EE will combine lending from the EIB to intermediary banks in Member States with protection against losses associated with making loans for energy efficiency projects, and technical assistance aiming at increasing the technical capacity of the financial intermediaries. The beneficiaries could include SMEs, private individuals, small municipalities or other public sector bodies. The size of the energy efficiency loans to be provided to the final beneficiaries could range from €40 000 up to €5 million and higher in exceptional cases.
20 January 2015 LIFEnews, the monthly LIFE newsletter, covers themes that are of importance to European policy on the environment and nature conservation, as well as the LIFE programme itself. So what were the five most-read articles of 2014?
Let the countdown begin…
The fifth most-read article was published in February. The European Commission had recently adopted a new Clean Air Policy Package and our article focused on how LIFE can play a key role in helping Member States reach their objectives. Compliance with the package could be achieved by, “various funding instruments at European level, in particular the LIFE programme,” according to Scott Brockett of the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment.LIFE vital for EC's new Clean Air Package
19 January 2015 The European Commission has published a report following the LIFE Information and Communication (LIFE INF) platform meeting about raising awareness of Natura 2000, which was held in Kraków, Poland on 13-14 October 2014. The meeting allowed a range of nature projects from the information and communication strand of the LIFE programme to exchange experience and discuss ways of improving awareness and understanding of the Natura 2000 network.
The projects were presented in two sessions: the first assessed the impact of LIFE INF projects that sought to increase awareness of key stakeholder groups (such as farmers, local communities, public administrations and managers of protected areas) and ensure public involvement in the conservation of Natura 2000 areas; the second looked at the role of targeted information campaigns as a tool for resolving specific protection issues. The event concluded with workshops designed to share knowledge and to develop recommendations on how to best promote Natura 2000.
07 January 2015 The National IUCN Committee of Finland has awarded the Finnish Biodiversity Award 2013-2014 to the project Saimaa Seal LIFE (LIFE12 NAT/FI/000367). The project received the award specifically for one of its Actions (C2), which involved improving the breeding conditions of the Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) with man-made snowdrifts.
The action was necessary because the snow on Lake Saimaa was extremely thin during the winter of 2013/2014 and the snow mounds which the seal needs to reproduce did not form naturally. To solve this problem a large number of volunteers created 240 artificial snow mounds for the seals. Their hard work paid off: in spring 2014, some 59 seal pups were born in nests in the manmade mounds. “Without the help of the volunteers this work would not have been successful,” says Dr. Raisa Tiilikainen, project manager. The solution has caused quite a stir outside of Finland because it is seen as a new, simple and innovative way to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on seals.
06 January 2015 You are invited to participate in our new call for ideas! As part of the work programme 2016-2017 of the societal challenge 5 “Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials” (SC5) of the Horizon 2020 framework programme, the European Commission intends to open calls for large-scale pilot/demonstration projects in the areas of circular economy, nature-based solutions, climate services and water.
The present call for ideas for pilot/demonstration projects is intended to:
05 January 2015 A red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) recently observed in a mixed grazing flock of greater white-fronted goose and red-breasted goose at Nagy-szik in the Hortobágy National Park, Hungary, was identified thanks to a yellow plastic ring with which it had been marked in 2013 by the Bulgarian LIFE project Safe Ground for Redbreasts (LIFE09 NAT/BG/000230).
The observed individual was feeding at a site that was restored by the LIFE project, Sodic lake habitat restoration in the Hortobágy (LIFE07 NAT/H/000324). This site hosts large flocks of wintering geese, and through the network of goose experts across Europe, the site managers were able to inform the Bulgarian project team.
The Bulgarian LIFE project, which is being coordinated by BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, is carrying out land-management measures in the Dobrudzha region of northern Bulgaria to provide secure foraging grounds for the red-breasted goose – the most threatened goose species in the world.
24 December 2014A recent FAO publication on climate change has referenced conservation measures carried out by two LIFE projects: a Swedish (LIFE08 NAT/S/000268) mire restoration project; and a German alkaline fen restoration project (LIFE08 NAT/D/000003).
The publication, Towards climate-responsible peatlands management, highlights the challenges facing the alkaline fens in Brandenburg and the actions undertaken by the LIFE project beneficiary, Naturschutzfonds Brandenburg to meet them. The project sites have been heavily drained and converted to arable land, but thanks to LIFE these areas are being restored through raising the water level and removing nutrients.
Grazing is another key restoration measure. “The project worked in collaboration with local farmers to establish pastures for Asian water buffalo and sheep. With proper grazing management, the livestock keep the growth of reed and other larger vegetation to a minimum,” the publication reports.
The project, which is set to end next year, has carried out measures on six sites, mowing a total of 140 ha of reed, filling in 27 km of drainage ditches and cutting peat on an area of around 14 ha. Water buffalos are grazing on more than 30 hectares.
The restoration of fenland, and peatlands in general, is an effective climate-change mitigation measure, as several LIFE project are demonstrating. The ongoing Swedish project is an excellent example and one that will feature in a forthcoming LIFE brochure on climate change.
23 December 2014The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed an agreement entrusting the EIB with the management of the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), the second of two new financial instruments under the LIFE Programme.
The NCFF will provide loans and investments in funds to support projects that promote the preservation of natural capital, including adaptation to climate change, within the EU-28.
The EIB will contribute a total budget for the Investment Facility of €100-125 million for 2014-2017. The European Commission will contribute €50 million as a guarantee for the investments, and €10 million for a support facility. Beneficiary companies and financial intermediaries will provide significant additional financing.
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: