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

LIFE's call for action grants 2015 to maximise programme impact

LIFE 2015 Call

01 June 2015 The LIFE programme launched two calls for proposals, underlining its commitment to supporting projects that protect the environment and tackle the impact of climate change.

The 2015 call for action grants for the LIFE programme was launched on 1 June 2015 and covers proposals for both environment and climate action sub-programmes. The total budget for project action grants for this call is €240 811 337. Of this amount, €184 141 337 has been allocated to project action grants for the sub-programme for environment and €56 670 000 has been allocated to the sub-programme for climate action. At least 55% of the environment allocation will be dedicated to projects supporting the conservation of nature and biodiversity.

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) is responsible for managing the call for traditional projects and capacity building projects for the environment sub-programme and traditional projects, integrated projects, technical assistance and capacity building projects for the climate action sub-programme.

Traditional projects include best-practice, demonstration, pilot or information, awareness and dissemination projects. These are funded under one of three strands for the environment sub-programme (LIFE nature & biodiversity, LIFE environment & resource efficiency and LIFE environmental governance and information). For the sub-programme for climate action, traditional project strands are LIFE climate change mitigation, LIFE climate change adaptation and LIFE climate governance & information.


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.


LIFE information and networking event in Morocco


12 August 2015Current and potential LIFE beneficiaries are invited to participate in a LIFE information session in Morocco in the second half of September 2015 (date to be confirmed). The aim of the event, which is organised by the government of Morocco in cooperation with the European Commission and EASME, is to facilitate networking between EU-based organisations and relevant Moroccan stakeholders and to raise awareness about shared environmental and climate concerns.

LIFE Regulation (Article 6) opens up the possibility for financing activities outside the EU, provided that they are necessary to achieve EU's environmental and climate objectives. Thus, the scope of a project to solve an environmental problem in Europe could encompass action in Morocco (e.g. working on wintering grounds of listed bird species that migrate to the EU).


EWWR awards recognise six inspirational waste-reducing initiatives


07 August 2015Six initiatives from across Europe won the 2014 European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) Awards, an annual prize given by the project Life EWWR+ (LIFE12 INF/BE/000459). This year’s awards were presented during a two-day conference in Budapest on ‘new approaches to national waste management’ (held 27-28 May). The conference was organised by Life EWWR+ project partners, the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and sustainable Resource management (ACR+) and the Hungarian National Waste Agency. The winners were recognised for their outstanding awareness-raising activities regarding waste reduction as implemented during the 2014 EWWR.

This annual week of EU-wide action was launched in 2009 by the earlier LIFE project, EWWR (LIFE07 INF/F/000185), with activities aimed at citizens, authorities, businesses, schools and other relevant stakeholders. LIFE EWWR+ builds on the success of this initial project, continuing to raise awareness about the importance of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle).


Bulgarian LIFE project reduces threat to imperial eagle

Photo: LIFE12 NAT/BG/000572

03 August 2015Technical works to safeguard the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) along its flyways in Bulgaria are underway at a second site as part of the ongoing project LIFE for safe grid (LIFE12 NAT/BG/000572). The project’s long-term goal is to ensure an increase in the species’ population in Bulgaria by reducing its main threat – death from uninsulated power lines.

An opening ceremony for this latest site was held on 23 June 2015, in Topolovgrad, a municipality in south-eastern Bulgaria, close to one of the imperial eagle habitats. The event was attended by the Mayor Bozhin Bozhinov, as well as representatives of the project beneficiary, energy supplier, EVN Bulgaria Elektrorazpredelenie EAD and partner, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB).


MoorLIFE releases apps to increase moorland awareness

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

30 July 2015The UK’s Moors for the Future Partnership has created four new smartphone and tablet apps through its MoorLIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202). The free apps provide photographic guides to help identify the wildlife, vegetation and landscape features found on moorland.

“We produced the apps so that people can learn more about the wonderful landscapes that we have worked on to restore to their former glory,” said MoorLIFE project manager, Laura King. “Thanks to the EU funding we’ve completed conservation works to protect 2 500 hectares of moorland, that will increase the numbers of plants, and Sphagnum mosses that you’ll be able to spot out on the moors. And we hope that you’ll have more chances to see more wildlife as our works improve these vital habitats.”

The apps, which were developed in conjunction with the firm Natural Aptitude, have been designed with the Peak District and South Pennines in mind but can be used on all moorland in the UK.


Conservation success for Iberian lynx

Photo: LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570

27 July 2015Successful conservation action – aided by LIFE Nature projects in Spain and latterly in Portugal - has boosted the populations of one of the world’s most threatened large carnivores, the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). According to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of threatened species, following six decades of decline, the population of the Iberian lynx increased from just 52 mature individuals in 2002 to 156 in 2012 [unofficial figures estimate total numbers at 357 individuals for 2014]. The decline of the species had been caused by destruction of its habitat, human-induced deaths and above all, by the effects of viral diseases of the wild rabbit (RHD and myxomatosis), its main prey. Now, however, it has moved from the ‘Critically Endangered’ to ‘Endangered’ category on the IUCN Red List.


2015 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants: FAQ now published


27 July 2015The most useful Frequently Asked Questions have been published today as a downloadable PDF document.

All applicants wishing to submit a LIFE 2015 proposal are kindly reminded to consult the 2015 FAQs section on a regular basis throughout the preparation period, or to subscribe to our RSS, where new versions will be announced as they become available.

The 2015 FAQ is available here.

LIFE road project in Italy yields unexpected benefits

Photo: WWF Italia

23 July 2015A LIFE Nature project in southern Italy has demonstrated some unforeseen benefits, both social and economic, several years after completion.
The project, 'Cesine - Conservation of Wetlands in Cesine and decrease of human impact in the area' (LIFE95 NAT/IT/000807), ran from 1996 to 2000. One of its main objectives was to close a busy highway that crossed the wetlands - a Natura 2000 site near Lecce in Puglia - and re-naturalise it to give the habitat continuity.

A new road was built and traffic re-routed around the nature reserve, but the asphalt from the old highway bisecting the site was not removed as planned: permission was not received from the relevant national authority as required under Italian law. Some unexpected benefits have arisen from leaving the road in place, though.


Spanish R&D forum profiles LIFE environmental initiatives


17 July 2015Environmental R&D experts and LIFE projects gathered on 18 June 2015 during the 2015 Environmental Science and Technology EFEforum. Organised by the research centre CARTIF - beneficiary of several LIFE projects - and EFEverde, the environmental division of the Spanish press agency EFE, the workshop featured nine success stories on environmental technologies and methods developed by LIFE projects.

The event reflected on the environmental research programmes and strategies that will shape the future of sustainable development in the EU. It also highlighted the different benefits of LIFE to society as well as the advantages of participating in the programme.

The participating LIFE projects deal mostly with air quality and resource efficiency issues.


2015 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants: guideline corrigendum for the sub-programme for Climate Action


16 July 2015A corrigenda of the two guidelines of the 2015 Call for proposal under the sub-programme for Climate Action has been published today in the LIFE Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation, Governance & Information application package:

  • A corrigendum of the "LIFE Climate Action Guidelines for Applicants 2015" clarifying in page 45 the monitoring of the impact of the C-implementation actions through the D-monitoring actions.
  • A corrigendum of the "LIFE Climate Action Guidelines for evaluation of project proposals 2015" modifying in page 6 the reference to other sections of the Guidelines for Applicants and clarifying in page 7, the calculation of the minimum pass score.


LIFE VENENO NO project helps obtain illegal poisoning conviction

Photo: Agentes Rurales Quebrantahuesos

14 July 2015A court in Santander (northern Spain) has found a farmer guilty of laying out poisoned baits that killed at least eleven red kites (Milvus milvus), an endangered species,  as well as five dogs, six foxes, a cat, a raven, a buzzard and four vultures.

The farmer was sentenced, on 8 June 2015, to two years in prison and post-release: two years disqualification from farming or animal husbandry; four years disqualification from hunting, a fine of €90 270, and an additional fine of €28 500 to be used to monitor red kites over the next three years. This is the most severe sentence to be passed for this type of crime in Spain.


Spanish project presents findings on sustainable forestry and climate change

LIFE07 ENV/E/000824

08 July 2015LIFE BOSCOS (LIFE07 ENV/E/000824) held its final event on Friday 26 June 2015 in the plenary hall of the Consell Insular of Menorca (CIMe), the project beneficiary. At the conference, organised by CIMe’s Economy, Environment and Hunting Department, the project team presented their findings on sustainable forest management in Menorca in the context of climate change.

The LIFE BOSCOS project developed planning and management guidelines aimed at reducing the negative impacts of climate change on forests in Menorca. After a first phase of studies and meetings with stakeholders (e.g. forest managers, farmers, entrepreneurs and landowners), guidelines were drawn up and demonstrated on nine collaborating estate farms. The management tools developed by LIFE BOSCOS serve as a reference for other European countries developing climate change adaptation strategies for forest ecosystems.


LIFE and climate change report now available

LIFE and climate change report

06 July 2015A study of the climate change mitigation and adaptation practices demonstrated by the LIFE programme is now available online. The study is targeted at experts in the European Commission as well as the general public. A high number of LIFE projects (366) have direct or indirect implications for climate change. The study identified and classified these projects in order to make it easier to search for them.

The study, moreover, groups the projects together under sub-topics and is accompanied by a spreadsheet database. The graphs and lists produced underline the wide scope of solutions and innovative approaches that have been carried out by the LIFE programme. LIFE projects have dealt with all bar one of the more than 50 identified climate change sub-topics.


Polish poster competition promotes the reduction of natural resource use amongst secondary school pupils

LIFE 3xEnvironment

3 July 2015On June 16, 2015, an awards ceremony took place in Warsaw, Poland, for the winners of the poster competition "Secondary crafts schools pupils for the environment". The competition was organised within the framework of the project LIFE/3xEnvironment/PL (LIFE12 INF/PL/000009).
The competition aimed to promote knowledge on good practices regarding reducing the use of natural resources in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) amongst secondary school pupils. Successful pupils were awarded prizes for posters they had created on this subject. The awards were presented by Mr Christian Strasser, deputy head of the LIFE unit, and two other EC representatives. A total of 112 posters were submitted from all over Poland. Attendees of the award ceremony also enjoyed presentations about the project, LIFE and other initiatives looking at environmental education regarding a reduction in the consumption of resources consumption.


European Commission provides 24 environmental & climate NGOs with €9 million funding

NGO Compilation 2015

30 June 2015The European Commission has chosen to award operating grants to 24 NGOs in 2015 under the LIFE Regulation 2014-2020. The successful organisations will receive a total of €9 million between them. This funding aims to strengthen the participation of NGOs in the dialogue process in environmental and climate change policy-making and in its implementation. In the past, this funding has supported successful campaigns to ban the use of the neonicotinoids, an insecticide that adversely affects bees, and lobbying efforts to end fossil fuel subsidies. The selected NGOs are active in a wide range of fields – from nature & biodiversity conservation through climate change mitigation & adaptation to environment and resources efficiency.


Mixed report for Europe's habitats and species

Image: EU publications

22 June 2015A new European Commission report provides the most comprehensive picture yet on the state of nature in the EU. The findings show that the majority of birds have a favourable status, and some species and habitats are doing better. Targeted conservation actions, e.g. those supported by LIFE projects, have brought successes, but a much greater effort is required for the situation to improve significantly.

The technical report prepared by European Environment Agency (EEA) is the first assessment to cover both the EU birds (article 12 national reports) and habitats (article 17 reports) directives, and it results from the largest collaborative data-collection and assessment of nature ever undertaken across the Member States in the period 2007-2012. It follows an earlier (2001-2006) assessment of species (excluding birds) and habitats conservation status covered by the Habitats Directive. For more, see the LIFE Focus publication, LIFE improving the conservation status of species and habitats.

In a statement, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “This report is significant and timely. While it shows a mixed picture overall, it clearly demonstrates that efforts to improve vulnerable ecosystems can be highly effective. It also underlines the scale of the challenges that remain. We have to rise to those challenges, as the health of our nature is linked to the health of Europe's people, and to our economy.”


LIFE project sees birth of first Griffon vulture chick in the wild

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278

19 June 2015The Vultures’ Return (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278) LIFE project released 32 Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) over six years with the aim of restoring the bird’s population in Bulgaria. On 9 June 2015, project beneficiary Green Balkans was delighted to announce the first birth resulting from its reintroduction programme in the Balkan Mountains.

Project Manager Elena Kmetova revealed, “we have observed the very first wild-born baby Griffon vulture, hatched by parents released within the Vultures’ Return project. The majestic vulture has returned after more than 70 years of absence and this comes in the very last month of the extended project, to remind us that all these efforts and sleepless nights do pay off!”

The Vultures’ Return project established a breeding programme for Griffon vulture at Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Centre in Bulgaria.


PAFs: The way forward for Natura 2000 management

Photo:M Robert Kneschke

16 June 2015Discussions on the latest phase in the management of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites, the drawing up of Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs), were recently held in Brussels among those responsible for PAFs and their implementation, and Commission officials.

Chairing the meeting, Angelo Salsi, head of the LIFE-Nature unit, Directorate General for the Environment, said that it was great opportunity for the attendees to help shape the process.
In his introductory remarks, he emphasised that LIFE projects “really show the EU how far you can go and in what way”.

The event, a ‘Thematic Platform Meeting on Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) projects’, examined the contribution of LIFE projects in drawing up national and regional PAFs and fulfilling the objectives of the Habitats Directive, particularly Article 8 – which foresees the need to develop PAFs.

PAFs are conceived as Natura 2000 network planning tools for setting objectives and priorities, defining the measures to be financed, identifying the potential contributions of different funds and setting out the actions to be taken. They also cover monitoring and evaluation.


The call on framework partnership agreements for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is now open!

Photo:M Robert Kneschke

15 June 2015 This call for proposals aims at identifying framework partners to which the EASME may at a later stage award specific operating grants. Those specific operating grants shall foresee co-financing of the operating costs of NGO's related to the eligible activities provided for in the framework partners' 2016 and 2017 Work Programme, and they will cover certain administrative and operational costs for the financial years 2016 and 2017.

The call will close on 27 July 2015. Please note that if the application is not sent by post but delivered by hand, it must arrive not later than 16:00 Brussels local time on 27 July at the Commission's central mail service. See the full calendar on the call page.

Applicants must use the LIFE operating grants application package for the preparation of their proposals (in English only). Applications can be submitted in any official EU language, but preferably in English. The application package contains full and detailed explanations with regard to eligibility, procedures, co-funding rates and all other relevant details.


IPENS publishes report on improving Natura 2000 sites in England

IPENS report

10 June 2015To coincide with Natura 2000 Day on 21 May 2015, the LIFE IPENS project (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000384) held a closing conference in London where it launched a report setting out a blueprint for the long-term management of England’s Natura 2000 network sites. There are 338 such sites in England, covering more than 2 million hectares, in both marine and terrestrial locations. This is the first time that this information has been brought together for all of these sites.

Led by Natural England in partnership with the Environment Agency, IPENS - Improvement Programme for England’s Natura 2000 network sites - involved more than 650 different organisations and has greatly increased understanding of what needs to be done to protect and enhance the Natura 2000 network in England.

The project produced a site improvement plan for each Natura 2000 network site and developed strategic plans to address issues that affect multiple sites. It also outlined priority actions needed to improve conditions and contribute to favourable conservation status, and it identified gaps in Natura 2000 evidence.


LIFE launches new report on supporting private land conservation

Alternative Ways to Support Private Land Conservation

09 June 2015 The LIFE Programme launched a report on new ways to engage private landowners in nature conservation at EU Green Week in Brussels. Elements of the report were discussed during a LIFE-led session dedicated to the topic on Friday 5 June – see next July's LIFEnews for a report on this session.

Despite the existence of EU legislation on nature conservation, according to the latest report on the State of Nature in the EU, just 16% of EU Habitats Directive-listed habitats, 23% of listed species and 52% of bird species are in a favourable conservation status. The European Commission is keen to stimulate private land conservation to help protect biodiversity further and reach the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. New private initiatives are particularly important as a complement to existing public funding mechanisms in light of limited public budgets in the wake of the financial and economic crisis.


Irish LIFE conservation site attracts royal visitor

Photo: Eamon Ward

05 June 2015The UK’s Prince Charles took time to enjoy the great outdoors and find out about LIFE on his recent four-day visit to Ireland. On 19 May 2015, the environmentally-aware prince headed to the limestone landscape of the Burren National Park, on Ireland’s Atlantic coastline, the site of two LIFE projects.

The BurrenLIFE (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125) project ended in 2010, but the Burren Life Programme is continuing the sustainable agricultural measures initiated by LIFE. The Burren is home to several priority habitats that are threatened by a reduction in farming, and the LIFE project was set up to develop a new model for sustainable agricultural management.


LIFE events during Green Week 2015

GreenWeek LOGO

29 May 2015 The 2015 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, takes place from 3-5 June at The Egg, Rue Bara, Brussels. The theme is nature and biodiversity. Green Week offers a unique opportunity for debate, exchanges of experience and sharing of best practice. The conference has become an unmissable event for all involved in protecting the environment. The LIFE programme is again playing a prominent role during Green Week, in Brussels and at satellite events around Europe.

For full details of LIFE events during Green Week and a list of LIFE project beneficiaries taking part in the exhibition, download the programme here)- IMPORTANT: In order to attend LIFE-related events at Green Week, it is necessary to register via the Green Week Website (before 03/06) or directly at the Green Week desk at the Conference Centre after. N.B. It is not possible to register for individual LIFE events; rather, it is essential to complete the general registration form for Green Week to gain access to the venue.


Respecting Europe's natural heritage on Natura 2000 Day

Natura 2000 Day

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

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


Scottish volunteers stop theft of freshwater pearl mussels

 Freshwater Pearl Mussels

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

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


NCFF event indicates type of projects to be financed


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

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

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


Public consultation on birds and habitats directives

Birds and habitats directives

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

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


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