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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 >>
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.
05 August 2014 The European Commission has published the report from the LIFE Platform Meeting ‘Urban Resilience: LIFE+ projects and European policies’. This meeting, held in Colombes, France, on 4-5 April 2014, provided the platform for discussions on urban resilience challenges, the sharing of experiences from completed and on-going LIFE projects, and the opportunity for experts to make recommendations on how the LIFE programme can best support future projects in this area.
Urban resilience is defined as the ability of an urban territory or community to resist, absorb, accommodate and recover from hazards, such as natural disasters, the impacts of climate change and poverty. A resilient approach addresses, for example, reducing the environmental impacts of pollution and waste, mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change, and solutions to economic and social issues.
During presentation and workshop sessions, the Platform Meeting focused on three thematic areas: resilient infrastructure and urban planning; waste management, recycling and re-use; and natural resource management and renewable energy production. There was an emphasis on common methods and tools used in these different areas.
30 July 2014The LIFE Scandinavian Platform Meeting was successfully held on 10-12 June in 2014 in Rovaniemi (Finland). The general objective of this annual meeting is to help LIFE Nature projects in Finland, Denmark and Sweden contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation. Three projects co-organised the meeting: Return of Rural Wetlands (LIFE09 NAT/FI/000563), Boreal Peatland Life (LIFE08 NAT/FIN/000596) and NATNET (LIFE10 NAT/FI/000047).
A total of 73 participants took part, representing the European Commission and a range of LIFE projects. On the first day, at the Hotel Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, Arnoud Heeres (Programme Manager LIFE Nature, European Commission) outlined the new Life Programme 2014-2020; Lucie Trokanova (LIFE Communications Team) explained how LIFE projects can effectively communicate their results; and Bent Jepsen (Astrale) described the role of the External Monitoring Team.
22 July 2014The European Commission has published a report on the LIFE Platform Meeting ‘Climate change - ecosystem services approach for adaptation and mitigation’, which was held in Norwich, UK, on 14-15 May 2014.
Current and past LIFE projects came together at the event to share their experiences on developing responses to the predicted impacts of climate change across EU Member States. Another aim of the meeting was to look at the opportunities to attract funding for mitigation and adaptation projects in the LIFE multi-annual work programme for 2014-2017.
Nature conservation bodies were encouraged to seize the opportunities available to develop new partnerships through the climate action sub-programme and Integrated Projects, as well as continuing with the traditional project approach.
18 July 2014The first large-scale testing of a new floodgate, favouring the flooding and restoration of the river dynamics of valuable Rhine habitats on Rohrschollen Island (Strasbourg) has been successfully carried out by the LIFE Rohrschollen Island project (LIFE08 NAT/F/000471).
The testing of the floodgate was carried out on 17 June 2014, at a special event organised by the city of Strasbourg – the project beneficiary. The ongoing project is working to reproduce, through hydrological works, the island's natural flood dynamics, before this part of the Rhine was modified by dams and dikes.
This first flooding was carried out in the presence of the deputy mayor, responsible for sustainable development, and the regional representative of the EDF (the national electricity provider).
03 July 2014A pair of red-footed falcons (Falco vespertinus) have been discovered near Trnava, Slovakia, the first to be seen in this area for 40 years. The species, which was the focus of a recent LIFE project and is the target of an ongoing one, is close to extinction in Slovakia. Only two pairs were previously known to inhabit the country.
The main EU population of the red-footed falcon is found in the Pannonian lowlands. The raptor favours steppe-type habitats with extensive agriculture and low tree coverage. MME Birdlife Hungary carried out conservation actions in favour of the falcon in Hungary and Romania under the LIFE project, F.VESPERTINUS-HU/RO (LIFE05/NAT/HU/000122). It created thousands of artificial nesting sites and a special agro-environmental scheme for the conservation of feeding habitats. As a result of the project, the Hungarian population increased from 600 to 1 200 breeding pairs.
30 June 2014The Annual Compilations of new LIFE+ projects are now online. From the 2013 call for proposals, the European Commission has selected 125 projects for co-funding under the Environment Policy & Governance strand; 92 projects under LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity strand of the programme; and eight new environmental awareness projects in six countries under LIFE+ Information & Communication.
The Environment Policy & Governance strand supports pilot projects that contribute to the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. Total investment in this strand will come to €318.5 million, of which the EU will provide €130.8 million.
The LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity projects, which aim to improve the conservation status of endangered species and habitats, are carried out by partnerships of conservation bodies, government authorities and other parties located across 25 Member States. In total, they represent an investment of €233.9 million, of which the EU will contribute €133.9 million.
24 June 2014The Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon has awarded its 2014 Prize for the Environment to the LIFE+ project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431). The project, run by the local authority (Comarca) of Los Monegros, won the prize in the ‘Local Government’ category at the 16th annual awards ceremony held in Zaragoza on 5 June 2014, World Environment Day.
CREAMAgua created wetlands and riverbank forests to act as natural filters to reduce the run-off of inorganic nutrients - nitrates and phosphates - and salts from agricultural land into rivers. It was led by the local authority, but worked actively with local farmers in the management of the wetland areas.
20 June 2014Populations of brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), wolverine (Gulo gulo) and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are stabilising or increasing in EU Member States, after a long period of decline. Improved protection in Natura 2000 network sites and greater public awareness of nature conservation has enabled these large carnivores to return to areas from which they have long been absent. However, this can bring them into increasing conflict with human activities. Over 70 LIFE projects have focused on large carnivores and many of these have involved conflict reduction measures, as described in the LIFE Focus publication ‘LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores’.
The European Commission launched the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores on 10 June 2014, to help solve at a European level the social and economic problems that can sometimes result from an increase in large carnivore numbers.
19 June 2014Following an earlier success (reported in May 2014) on the website of the LIFE+ MALTA SEABIRD PROJECT (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090) - of a first occupant of an artificial nest box by a yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) - the LIFE team has just revealed the arrival of a “fluffy, fast growing chick”. A delighted spokesperson says: “This is Malta’s first chick to hatch and grow inside an artificial nest.” During the day, the LIFE team explains, the parents already leave the chick alone – returning to feed it with “regurgitated squid and fish” during the night.
More successful seabird nest news is expected as the 2011-2016 project progresses, especially as the project team is being supported by a rat eradication programme, which is being run in the species’ main breeding colony, on the isle of Rdum tal-Madonna. Rats are an invasive species to the Maltese isles and as the yelkouan lays just one egg per year, rat predation on their eggs and chicks is a major threat.