26 September 2016 An Italian court’s conviction of a hunter who shot two northern bald ibises (Geronticus eremita) that had been reintroduced to Europe by the LIFE Northern Bald Ibis (LIFE 12 BIO/AT/000143) project sends a strong signal to the hunting community that targeting critically endangered species will not be tolerated.
“This precedent case is a clear signal to the minority of hunters who don’t care about endangered and protected species,” project manager Johannes Fritz said following the court judgment, which came four years after the birds were shot.
“Poaching is not a trivial matter but a serious threat to endangered species like the northern bald ibises.”
14 September 2016 This issue of LIFEnews focuses on a recent platform meeting about the circular economy.
The first article gives an overview of the event, whilst the second article looks in more depth at the meeting's two workshops, which considered how to improve LIFE projects' replicability and boost the market for secondary raw materials.
13 September 2016 A pilot processing plant set up by the LIFE+ WOGAnMBR project (LIFE13 ENV/ES/000779) has begun treating wastewater from the food industry. The plant is testing the project's new treatment process on wastewater from food company, Eurofrits. The wastewater results from the preparation of precooked-meals of fried squid and breadcrumbs.
The LIFE project was launched to develop a new process for treating wastewater generated by food and beverage industries that can save energy. Current processing technologies generate a large amount of sludge and consume high amounts of energy.
The LIFE project is using anaerobic membrane bioreactors (AnMBR), an emerging technology that avoids problems associated with processing wastewater with a high concentration of organic matter, such as the flotation of suspended biomass and the recollection of biogas.
12 September 2016 The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx carpathicus) has returned to the Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald), in southwestern Germany, after disappearing from the area more than 200 years ago. Three captured individuals from Slovakia were transported to the forest thanks to the project LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald (LIFE13 NAT/DE/000755).
The three released lynxes, one male and two female – named Lucky, Kaja and Luna by local schoolchildren – have been in quarantine since May where they received diligent care and the required vaccinations.
"I am relieved that it went well, that the animals are healthy and they have found their way into the forest. We hope that they will feel at home in the open habitat as quickly as possible," said Jochen Krebühl, CEO of Die Stiftung Natur und Umwelt Rheinland-Pfalz, the project beneficiary. The LIFE project expects to transfer around 20 animals to the area, 10 from Switzerland and 10 from Slovakia.
07 September 2016 Two years into an ambitious LIFE project in Slovakia that aims to protect the country's many bird species from flying into power lines, project leaders are highlighting the work of the 62 assistants who participated in a field survey to determine the most dangerous parts of the power network.
Field staff engaged by the LIFE ENERGY project (LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272) have walked a combined total of 32 000 km during the first fifteen months of this five-and-a-half year initiative, which is part-funded by a €1.41 million grant from the EU's LIFE programme.
Their job was to pave the way for the project's core task of protecting ten priority bird species in Slovakia from collisions with power lines. The field staff visually assessed around 7 000 km of power lines in thirteen Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas.
06 September 2016 A LIFE project aiming to reintroduce the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichetus manatus manatus) to waters around the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is celebrating the arrival of the first two animals to be released into the wild.
The duo, named Kai and Junior, have arrived safely in Guadeloupe after a transcontinental journey from their home at Singapore Zoo, which agreed to donate the animals to the LIFE SIRENIA project (LIFE14 NAT/FR/000885).
The project team, working with staff from the zoo, organised the construction of special crates for the manatees to be transported on four separate flights to their final destination on the French island. During their long journey, veterinary experts accompanied the aquatic mammals to ensure their welfare and safety.
02 September 2016 On 10 August 2016, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds released three young captive-bred Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) into an artificial nest in the Rusenski Lom Nature Park in Bulgaria. The activity was carried out within the framework of the LIFE project, Return of the Neophron (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152), in collaboration with the Nature Park and Green Balkans. It was the first such release not only in Bulgaria, but throughout Eastern Europe.
The LIFE project is taking measures to secure the survival of the Egyptian vulture in Bulgaria and Greece. In addition to releasing captive-bred individuals, the project aims to protect all the remaining pairs found in 15 Natura 2000 sites in Greece and 12 in Bulgaria. Between them, the sites host 76%-93% of the Greek and over 90% of the Bulgarian populations. The project actions address the most relevant threats identified in the EU Species Action Plan for the Egyptian vulture (2008), including the high mortality rate due to poisoning and accidents caused by human infrastructure.
22 August 2016 The international symposium, Hope for the northern bald ibis was recently held in Seekirchen am Wallersee, Salzburg, Austria. The symposium addressed measures to prevent the extinction of the northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) species and to diminish threats to its conservation. The event was held in the context of successful ongoing research and reintroduction projects in Europe. The meeting also coincided with the publication of an international action plan for the bald ibis.
The aim is to downgrade its current high threat level on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species within ten years. As a result of the meeting, further feasibility studies and habitat analysis will be carried out in parts of its former distribution areas.
22 August 2016 The LIFE DinAlp Bear (LIFE13 NAT/SI/000550) project has published a guidebook for professionals aimed at promoting the co-existence of humans and brown bears (Ursus arctos), by resolving the problems that can occur when bears encounter human activities. Entitled A Guidebook to Human-Carnivore Conflict, it provides new tools and innovative strategies for the conservation and management of populations of brown bear and other large carnivores inhabiting human-modified landscapes.
The guidebook offers practical tips for effective communication and for building partnerships between the people who live and work in areas with large carnivores. It is available in five languages (Slovenian, English, Croatian, Italian and German), and can be accessed online.
The guidebook was written by Dr. Seth Wilson, a technical advisor to the project, who collated input from all the project partners, bear-damage inspectors, and bear emergency intervention teams. A key message running through the guidebook is that positive working relationships among wildlife managers, local communities and other stakeholders are fundamental for the prevention and reduction of human-carnivore conflict.
12 August 2016 The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea (Directorate for Sustainable Development, Environmental Damage, European Union and International Affairs) has produced a Knowledge Platform, which serves as a valuable online resource for sharing best environmental practices and climate-related techniques and approaches.
The European Commission has funded or co-funded many significant projects through a range of programmes, including LIFE, and these have demonstrated a wide variety of innovative environmental methodologies. They have moreover contributed to the knowledge base for implementing EU legislation as well as informing policy-making.
The Knowledge Platform was set up to provide opportunities for those who have developed good practices, and thus added to this knowledge base, to network with potential replicators.
11 August 2016 On 5 July 2016, Ivelina Vasileva, the Bulgarian Minister of the Environment and Waters, visited the Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) project centre to see first-hand the final preparations for the release of ten young lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) into the mountainous Sakar region in south-eastern Bulgaria.
The batch of ten chicks was the last of this year’s hatched Lesser Kestrel taking part in the adaptation and release module in the village of Levka, in the Svilengrad municipality.
“The Lesser Kestrel is included in Bulgaria’s Red Book in the category “Critically endangered species”. This is why the project for reproducing these birds is very useful. It is directly financed by the European Commission, and was entered in the Commission’s classification as one of the best managed,” Minister Vasileva said.
09 August 2016 The LIFE HUELLAS (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000686) project has released a publically-accessible version of its footprint calculator for the construction of railways. The tool is available from the project's website: http://life-huellas.eu.
The LIFE HUELLAS project consortium is led by Fundacion CARTIF in partnership with the companies VIAS Y CONSTRUCCIONES and IK-Ingeniería, and the University of Granada. The project aims to reduce the carbon and water footprint of rail infrastructure, by 10% and 5% respectively, by developing decision-making tools and methodologies for use during railway construction.
The construction of railway infrastructure, which accounts for around 28% of the carbon emissions attributed to rail transport, involves a multitude of decisions from planning to execution.
5 August 2016A LIFE project aiming to reverse the decline of two species of critically endangered seabirds on the French outermost region (ORs) in the Indian Ocean island of Réunion has enlisted some four-legged support – a dog called LIFE and his fellow canine Lancelot.
Experts from the LIFE+ Pétrels project (LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075) have acquired the pair of dogs to help monitor and protect the native population of Barau’s petrels (Pterodroma baraui) and Mascarene petrels (Pseudobulweria aterrima), whose preferred nesting sites are in elevated positions difficult for humans to access.
These remote habitats help to explain biologists’ incomplete understanding of the nesting and breeding habits of the petrels. Deploying the two dogs to identify the birds’ burrowing sites will help the project team to identify breeding colonies, monitor the progress of chicks and limit as far as possible the intrusion of feral cats and rats that have been responsible over decades for the precipitous decline in petrel numbers.
27 July 2016FRESh LIFE (LIFE14 ENV/IT/000414) demonstration flights of data-collecting drones is raising awareness of Forest Information Systems (FIS) in Italy. The project has recently demonstrated the use of drones for monitoring forests at one-day events in three regions: Rincine (Florence) in Tuscany (13 May 2016), Lago di Vico (Viterbo) in Lazio (27 May 2016), and Bosco Pennataro (Isernia) in Molise (29 June 2016).
The main objectives of the FRESh LIFE project are to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of integrating data collected from forest inventories with information obtained from remote-sensing, and to use this approach in the development of FIS and indicators to help forest managers evaluate sustainable forest management practices. To this end, drones equipped with LiDAR and very-high spatial resolution multispectral sensors are being used to acquire remote sensing data over the three demonstration areas. The integrated data will be analysed to map forest variables useful for describing both qualitative and quantitative forest characteristics at the operational scale of forest management.
25 July 2016On Saturday, 11 June 2016, the LIFE RE-Bison project (LIFE14 NAT/NL/000987) released ten European bison (Bison bonasus) or wisent in the Țarcu mountains in southwestern Romania. The animals had travelled from zoos and wildlife centres in Belgium and Germany. LIFE project beneficiary Rewilding Europe and project partner WWF Romania have released bison here on two previous occasions - in 2014 and 2015 - in cooperation with the local communities of Armeniș and Fenes. The aim of the LIFE RE-Bison project is to create a genetically- and demographically-viable wild European bison population in Romania.
The introduced animals will be among the first European bison to roam freely in the Carpathian mountain range in 200 years. The European bison, the continent’s largest wild land mammal, was hunted to near-extinction by 1927, but breeding and reintroduction efforts in central and eastern Europe have slowly enabled populations to recover. LIFE RE-Bison will continue its reintroduction programme for at least five more years. The project is also working to create new economic opportunities based around bison, to reduce conflicts between bison and existing rural economic activities, and to increase public awareness and interest in the conservation of European bison.
20 July 2016Malta has announced its first eight marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds within the Natura 2000 network, giving seabirds full protection on land and at sea. The announcement was made by Josè Herrera, the Maltese Minister of the Environment, at a conference organised by BirdLife Malta to close the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090).
The project's research team created an inventory of the most important sites (marine Important Bird Areas - IBAs) frequented by three seabird species – Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), Cory's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) – ahead of their legal protection as designated marine SPAs.
In a video message to the conference, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, praised the project as a cause for celebration and a perfect example of the value of collaboration.
18 July 2016The LIFE EXTRUCLEAN project (LIFE13 ENV/ES/000067) has developed an innovative process to remove hazardous substances from plastic waste. This represents a good example of upcycling: creating a higher quality recycled material. This type of upcycling is particularly relevant to the new EU Circular Economy Package (December 2015), which prioritises approaches that address hazardous substances.
AIMPLAS coordinates the Spanish LIFE project, in collaboration with AIDIMA, ARVET, ACTECO and Enplast. They recently announced that their new decontamination technology eliminates 70% more hazardous substances from plastic waste than the main conventional process.
The conventional process for removing hazardous substances from plastic waste utilises a triple washing and drying method that requires large amounts of water, cleaning agents and energy, and produces a large volume of wastewater. In addition, the recycled plastic obtained is generally of low value.
15 July 2016This edition of LIFEnews turns the spotlight on a recent LIFE platform meeting in Manchester on water pressures in urban areas.
The first article sets the context for the meeting and identifies some of its key outcomes.
The second article looks at the potential for a 'step change' in water management through LIFE Integrated Projects.
08 July 2016The LIFE programme has made a host of new resources available for potential applicants for LIFE funding.
One of the most significant is a new partner search page on the LIFE website. This resource collates links to existing partner search facilities, relevant social media groups and the National Contact Points for the LIFE programme.
On 17 June 2016, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) organised an international Information Day in Brussels to give advice on how to prepare and submit a successful LIFE proposal. Videos and other useful material from the Information Day are available here.
Potential applicants should also regularly check the 2016 LIFE funding FAQs to ensure they have the most up-to-date information before submitting their application. The LIFE programme advises potential applicants to subscribe to the LIFE website's RSS feed and to the digital newsletter, LIFEnews.
05 July 2016In good news for seabirds, St Agnes and Gugh in the Isles of Scilly were officially declared rat-free in February 2016 following a thorough month-long inspection two years after the last signs of rat activity were spotted. The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the UK. Since the rats were removed target seabird populations have shown an immediate response.
“This is fantastic news for the seabirds of Scilly,” said Sarah Mason, CEO of Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, which looks after most of the land on which the seabirds breed. She notes that land management work is now more important than ever, “we must ensure that habitats across the islands are suitable for our iconic seabirds so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.”
Led by the LIFE project Scilly rat removal (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000387), the rat-free declaration is a landmark achievement for this community-led project and it is one that has gained coverage in national and specialist media channels. The Scilly rat removal project saw local volunteers work with conservationists to successfully rid their islands of the rats that were killing seabirds.
01 July 2016Experts working on a LIFE project in Spain have welcomed initial test results that show injections of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas can lower the pH of seawater used as a cooling agent in combined-cycle power plants.
Using CO2 captured from the flues of a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant in Castellón, eastern Spain, the project team successfully showed that their new gas injection system can effectively reduce the pH of seawater in the cooling circuit.
The ultimate goal of the CO2FORMARE project (LIFE13 ENV/ES/000426) is to capture carbon dioxide and use it to slightly acidify water in the cooling circuit to inhibit the damaging accumulation of organisms in the system.
30 June 2016The release of a male brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the Pyrenees should help to broaden the genetic diversity of the species in the region and ensure its long-term survival, according to experts leading the LIFE project PIROSLIFE (LIFE13 NAT/ES/001394).
The bear, whose age is estimated between nine and ten, was released into the Parc Naturel de l'Alt Pirineu in northwest Catalonia as the latest step in efforts to re-establish the presence of the species in the Pyrenees. The animal, which was given the name Goiat, meaning young man in the local dialect, was relocated from Slovenia and released back into the wild on the evening of 6 June 2016.
The PIROSLIFE team hopes Goiat, weighing just over 200 kg, will challenge the genetic dominance of Pyros, another adult male introduced from Slovenia to the Pyrenees in 1997.
29 June 2016The latest LIFE Nature platform meeting took place from 15-17 June 2016. The theme of the meeting was the restoration of sand dune habitats, both coastal and inland. The event was jointly hosted by PWN, Natuurmonumentun and waternet in the Dutch coastal town of Zandvoort. This gave delegates the opportunity to visit one of two nearby LIFE sand dune restoration projects, Amsterdam Dunes (LIFE11 NAT/NL/000776) or the Dutch dune revival (LIFE09 NAT/NL/000418).
More than 80 conservation experts, scientists and policymakers from 15 EU Member States took part in the meeting, which brought together projects focusing on the restoration of coastal and inland dune habitats as part of the Natura 2000 biogeographical process for the Atlantic Biogeographical Region. The biogeographic process is a practical framework for networking and knowledge building at the biogeographical level. It aims to make management, financing of and reporting on the Natura 2000 network more coherent.
There are strong links between the Natura 2000 biogeographical process and LIFE projects in developing and disseminating best practice. In recent years LIFE projects have been at the forefront of developing new approaches to enhance sand dynamics (‘rejuvenating’) and restore dune habitats.
28 June 2016The LIFE FutureForCoppiceS (LIFE14 ENV/IT/000514) project organised a successful workshop in Arezzo, Italy on 25 May 2016 at the institute of the coordinating beneficiary CREA – Forestry Research Centre. The main topics covered were methods for the sustainable management of coppice forests in southern Europe and the definition of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) indicators.
Coppicing is a traditional management practice that provides a wide range of forest ecosystem goods and services. The practice is currently undergoing a renaissance in part due to its role in protecting biodiversity and producing feedstock for renewable bioenergy.
27 June 2016The mid-term evaluation of the LIFE Programme is now open. Everyone, citizens, organisations and public authorities alike, are welcome to contribute to this consultation, which runs until 9 September 2016.
In line with the requirements of Article 27 § 2 of the LIFE Regulation the European Commission has decided to carry out an external and independent mid-term evaluation to assess the LIFE programme, its types of interventions, its implementation and its results so far in order to facilitate evidence-based decision-making.
The mid-term evaluation is also in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines. The results will form the basis for a Staff Working Document and a second Multi-Annual Working Programme (MAWP) for the implementation of the LIFE Programme in 2018-2020.
23 June 2016Members of the LIFE Energy (LIFE13/NAT/SK/001272) project team acted promptly to save a group of 17 young European ground squirrel or suslik (Spermophilus citellus) that were close to death following heavy rains at the Muránska planina Natura 2000 network site (SPA) in Slovakia. The suslik is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive due to declining numbers, and this area is home to the largest population in Slovakia.
“Wet and dying animals were found flooded out of the burrows. Seeing this, we almost broke into tears,” says Ervín Hapl from coordinating beneficiary Raptor Protection of Slovakia. “We gathered the poor animals, dried them, fed them, and kept them in a safe place for some time before releasing them back to the wild.”
22 June 2016The LIFE MedGreenRoof project (LIFE12ENV/MT/000732) celebrated a real milestone with the opening of its demonstration green roof in Malta. While the benefits of green roofs in making buildings more energy efficient are known, most of the technology on green roofs is influenced by north European experiences, especially in terms of plant selection. The MedGreenRoof's demonstration roof is unique in that it was designed specifically for the Mediterranean climate.
Green roofs are gaining in popularity in many countries but awareness-raising work is still needed, especially in areas where the technology tends to be frowned upon because of popular misconceptions regarding possible leaks or the ability for plants to survive in arid environmental conditions. The launch event, which took place on 25 May 2016 at the University of Malta, was therefore aimed at changing people's attitude by showing Maltese architects, designers, students and the general public what a green roof adapted to the local climate would look like and what benefits it can bring.
20 June 2016Three LIFE projects were featured at a Brussels conference held as a follow-up to World Fish Migration Day (WFMD), a one-day global initiative consisting of local events organised all over the world to create awareness of the importance of open rivers and migratory fish and led by the World Fish Migration Platform.
The conference was hosted at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment by the World Fish Migration Platform, a partnership of seven organisations that promotes knowledge exchange and activities on fish migration.
13 June 2016On the 24 May 2016 the LIFE GYPCONNECT project (LIFE14 FR/NAT/000050), together with a welcoming committee of local schoolchildren, elected representatives and other stakeholders, gathered together to introduce two young bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) to the project area in the Massif Central.
The successful introduction of the two birds at Meyrueis, in the Cévennes national park, is an important milestone for the project. The idea of reintroducing a core population of bearded vultures in the Massif Central is to connect the two existing populations in the eastern Pyrenees and the western Alps in a bid to strengthen genetic diversity and boost the species' chances of survival in France.
13 June 2016 EASME has published the LIFE NGO Specific Grant Agreements 2016, covering the next financial year (2017) . The submission deadline is 28 July 2016.
The application forms are similar to the previous call, including the table with the overview on your work programme during the financial year (the table requested during revisions) plus more information on other on-going grants.
The financial forms are slightly simplified (mainly on the level of detail required for travel costs). The invitation to submit the work plan for the next financial year was sent by email to the selected NGOs on 13 June 2016.
Application forms are available here.
10 June 2016The annual Best LIFE Awards ceremonies took place in Brussels on 31 May 2016. Held during EU Green Week – the biggest annual occasion to debate European environment policy – the awards celebrated outstanding LIFE projects completed in 2015. Eleven projects from the Nature, Environment and Information & Communication strands of the LIFE programme were awarded the coveted ‘Best of the Best’ accolade.
At the ceremony for Best LIFE Environment and Information & Communication projects, a total of 25 projects received Best awards at the ceremony. Of these, five were selected as Best of the Best projects by a committee of EU Member State representatives. Six of the eleven Best of the Best winners were from the LIFE Nature and Information & Communications strands. In addition, a total of 27 winning projects representing 13 Member States received Best LIFE Nature award plaques.
The LIFE Citizens’ Award - chosen by public vote - went to the project POLYMIX - Polymer Wastes in Asphalt Mixes: a Way to Increase Sustainability of Roads Infrastructures (LIFE10 ENV/ES/000516).
09 June 2016An international Info Day will be organised by EASME on 17 June 2016 in Brussels. This event will enable you to meet all Brussels based stakeholders and interested parties and enlighten you on all you need to know to prepare and submit a successful LIFE proposal.
Registration will be closed on 13 June at 22h00 Brussels time, however, If you cannot attend personnaly the Info day, please note that this event is going to be streamed live on the 17 from 09:00 to 13:30 by the EU webscast services.
Please bookmark the following link to webstreaming page: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/life-information-day-2016#
08 June 2016Several LIFE Nature projects received prestigious innovation awards from the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development at the Third Polish Entrepreneurship Congress. The Congress examined synergies between science and business and aimed to popularise innovative solutions and good practice developed by projects that have received EU funding.
Two LIFE projects, Niebieski korytarz Iny (LIFE10 NAT/PL/000654) and Niebieski korytarz Regi (LIFE11 NAT/PL/000424), were jointly awarded a Polish Innovation Award 2015 for their work in creating blue wildlife corridors (Blue Infrastructure) in the Ina and Rega river basins, respectively.
07 June 2016 The EcoCo LIFE Scotland project (LIFE13 BIO/UK/000428) has joined forces with a chemical company, CalaChem, to install a 140m2 biodiverse green roof in a bid to both boost wildlife. The green roof, which has been designed for pollinating insects like bees (Apis) and hoverflies (Syrphidae), has been put in place at CalaChem's Grangemouth site, some 40km north of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
CalaChem is one of the first Scottish companies to host a green roof dedicated to biodiversity on its site. Almost 60 species of wildflower and grasses, native to the UK, have been planted on the roof. Species of wildflowers were chosen specifically to feed caterpillars and butterflies (Lepidoptera) while red clover (Trifolium pratense)was selected because it provides essential amino acids for foraging bumblebees.
06 June 2016Two lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni), fitted with transmitters in 2015 by the Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) project, returned in April this year to their nesting grounds in Bulgaria, after wintering in Africa.
This is the first time the entire migratory route of this species has been tracked from the Balkans. The return trip is over 7 000 km.
The objective of the Lesser Kestrel Recovery project is to support and strengthen the population of this globally-endangered species in Bulgaria, through direct conservation actions and awareness-raising activities. A key action, involving the collaboration of captive breeding centres in Spain and Bulgaria, was the establishment of a colony of lesser kestrel in the Sakar Natura 2000 network site in Bulgaria. After one year, in April 2014, the first introduced bird returned from Africa and mated, as previously reported.
02 June 2016 Italy is set to become the second European country to pass legislation that encourages supermarkets and restaurants to stop throwing away unsold food. Food wastage is expensive, costing the Italian economy around €12 billion a year; and it is bad for the environment, as landfilled food waste uses land, water and fuel resources unnecessarily and it contributes to the production of greenhouse gasses.
The Italian bill on food waste passed its final reading in the lower house on 16 May 2016, and is currently being discussed by the Senate. It contains 17 articles, including changes to food safety regulations that will enable products that are past their 'best before' dates to be given to charities.
A network of LIFE projects have been influential in making this change to Italian food legislation. The network was formed by the LOWaste project (LIFE10 ENV/IT/000373), which had found some legislative obstacles standing in the way of its objective to close waste cycles. To allow the reuse and recycling necessary to build circular economies within the food industry and other sectors, the project found that legislation needed to be modified. Therefore, it established a network that targeted food legislation by producing an appeal and lobbying for change.
01June 2016Yesterday during EU Green Week – the biggest annual occasion to debate European environment policy – the European Commission announced the winners of the LIFE Best Awards for 2015. The awards recognise the most effective and inspiring LIFE projects in the field of nature protection and environment, which, if applied widely, would have a highly positive impact on the environment, boosting economic growth and providing significant benefits for European citizens.
From more than 50 finalists (“Best LIFE projects”), the most outstanding projects have been awarded the accolade “Best of the Best” LIFE project. The 11 winnersinclude projects from Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.
Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Sincere congratulations to the winners and the finalists in this year's edition of LIFE Best Awards! These innovative projects show how effective small scale actions, with the help of LIFE funding, can lead to big results, replicable across national borders, with benefits for all. That's the real EU added value of the LIFE programme – being a catalyst for private and public investments helping to build a greener future."
Selection criteria for the Best Projects focus on their contribution to both immediate and long-term environmental, economic and social improvements; their degree of innovation and transferability; their relevance to policy and their cost-effectiveness.
The winning projects represent the three strands of the LIFE programme: Nature; Environment; Information & Communication.
30 May 2016The actions of three LIFE projects – ELIA (LIFE10 NAT/BE/000709), Safeguard LWfG (LIFE10 NAT/GR/000638) and Iberlince (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570) – were among those recognised at the third Natura 2000 awards ceremony in Brussels. The event, which was held in the Commission’s Berlaymont building in Brussels on 23 May 2016, honoured six initiatives relating to the Natura 2000 network of protected sites.
The Natura 2000 Awards showcase the added value of the network for local economies and the benefits of increasing public awareness of Europe's valuable natural heritage. It honours actions in five thematic categories: Communication, Socio-Economic Benefits, Conservation, Reconciling Interests/Perceptions, and Cross-border Cooperation and Networking. In addition, a sixth award is voted for by the general public – the European Citizens’ Award.
In all 14 actions taken by LIFE projects were selected amongst the 24 finalists.
30 May 2016Criminals who target Bulgaria's wildlife are themselves the target of an information campaign urging citizens to report offenders in order to protect and enhance the country's rich biodiversity.
Despite legislation and agreements at EU and international level aimed at countering wildlife crimes, illegal activity such as the capture of wild animals, the raiding of birds' nests, the trade and trafficking of rare species, outlawed hunting methods and poaching represent a lucrative opportunity for criminals.
A LIFE project in Bulgaria, Eagles Forests (LIFE12 NAT/BG/001218), has launched its third annual information campaign to inform and educate citizens about the problem of wildlife crimes in Bulgaria, and to encourage them to play their part in preventing and reporting offences.
26 May 2016Three orphaned Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are scheduled to be released this summer in the biosphere reserve in the Palatinate region of southwest Germany. A further five lynx that were tagged in Switzerland will also be relocated to the Palatinate Forest.
The reintroductions are part of the LIFE project LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald (LIFE13 NAT/DE/000755), which is being implemented by the Rhineland-Palatinate Conservation Foundation (Stiftung Natur und Umwelt Rheinland-Pfalz).
The project aims to establish a population of 20 lynx in the area through such reintroductions – 10 from Switzerland and 10 from Slovakia. The Eurasian lynx disappeared from the Rhineland-Palatinate area in the 18th century, and the nearest population to the project area is found in the southern Vosges. Individuals from this population have occasionally been recorded in Palatinate, but they have not established a separate population.
26 May 2016The Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea will launch its environmental best practice sharing tool - or knowledge platform - in Rome on 14 June 2016. The online tool was developed with the help of EU funding for environmental protection and climate action.
The objective of the Knowledge Platform is to promote the replication of best practice in the fields of nature and biodiversity, water, urban environment, climate change, soil management, resource efficiency, waste and energy. The overall aim is to improve the effectiveness and impact of public funding.
The knowledge platform consists of a database of projects co-financed in Italy by EU programmes such as LIFE, CIP Eco Innovation, CIP IEE and FP7. The site has been designed to stimulate networking among those who have developed the best practices and potential replicators of these actions.
25 May 2016The film Discovering Lindane made by the Spanish DISCOVERED LIFE project (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000761) continues to receive acclaim on the documentary film festival circuit. Following an award at the XVIII Félix de Azara Awards 2015, held in the Spanish province of Huesca, the film has now been nominated for a prize at the 2016 Environmental Film Festival Albania (EFFA 16).
The 33-minute film shows the consequences of the uncontrolled dumping of toxic waste arising from the production of the pesticide Lindane, between 1974 and 1992, in the Spanish region of Aragón. The active ingredients of this pesticide are highly persistent in the environment, and present health risks due to their endocrine disruption activity. The film goes on to show how the DISCOVERED LIFE project is tackling the pollution, through the operation of a prototype system that uses an in-situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) process to restore water quality in aquifers contaminated by Lindane.
24 May 2016LIFE AQUASEF (LIFE13 ENV/ES/000420) has reached a project milestone with the design of an alternative oxygenation system for the aquaculture sector that can reduce energy costs by up to 30%.
The LIFE AQUASEF project, under coordinating beneficiary Ariema, is demonstrating and promoting the use of innovative low-carbon emission technologies to increase environmental sustainability throughout the production cycles of fish and salt-water molluscs. The technology is being demonstrated in tanks at the aquaculture facilities of project partner Esteros de Canela (Huelva, Spain).
23 May 2016The research project, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Multi Sensor System (RPAMSS), is aiming to gather multi-dimensional environmental data in order to monitor the development of stretches of the river Gail in Carinthia, Austria, which had been the target of a recent LIFE project.
The research initiative builds on the work of the LIFE+ Gail project (LIFE08 NAT/A/000613), which carried out restoration of the sites to protect valuable riverine flora and fauna while improving flood protection.
The LIFE project helped restore the natural morphology and condition of the river by remodelling the river beds and by constructing groynes and still water bodies.
The research project is monitoring the outcomes of the LIFE project restoration actions in the river Gail, as well as the river Drava, using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) guided by real-time kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation – a technique used to enhance the precision of position data derived from satellite-based positioning systems.
20 May 2016The attachment of an electronic tag on a bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) nestling in southern France is being hailed as a breakthrough in efforts to reintroduce the species in the area and promote breeding between vulture populations in the Pyrenees and the Alps.
Experts from the LIFE GYPCONNECT project (LIFE14 FR/NAT/000050) successfully tagged the bird – named ‘Roc Genèse’ after a climbing club that has been involved in the project – while its parents were away from the nest. It marks the first time that a wild bearded vulture nestling was tagged in its nest in Aude.
The nest is the easternmost of the known nests in the Pyrenees, and thus the nearest to the Massif Central, which is the focus of LIFE GYPCONNECT’s efforts to create a new core population of vultures.
19 May 2016The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) awards ceremony was held in Brussels on 11 May 2016 to honour the most outstanding awareness-raising actions implemented during the EWWR 2015.
Six actions were awarded in the following categories: administration/public authority, association/NGO; business/industry; educational establishment; citizens; and others.
For a full list and short descriptions of the winners, see the press release.
The awareness-raising initiative, EWWR, is currently being run by ACR+ under the LIFE project EWWR+ (LIFE12 INF/BE/000459). The project aims to promote the ‘3Rs’ of waste reduction: reduce, re-use and recycle. As well as the EWWR, the project is also developing best practice guidelines and toolkits to address key target audiences in seven languages.
19 May 2016The 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 2016 call for action grants for the LIFE programme was launched on 19 May 2016 and covers proposals for both environment and climate action sub-programmes. The total budget for project action grants for this call is €337 536 184. Of this amount, €273 936 184 has been allocated to the sub-programme for environment and €63 600 000 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.
18 May 2016The Life - OZON project (LIFE12 NAT/BE/000166) has begun work on the first wildlife crossing over the Brussels ring road. The road, one of the busiest in Belgium, runs right through the Sonian Forest (Forêt des Soignes/Zoniënwoud), a 4 421-ha area that is primarily within the administrative region of Vlaams Brabant (in Flanders), as well as covering parts of south-east Brussels and Brabant Wallon (in Wallonia).
Life - OZON aims to reconnect areas of the Sonian Forest with high ecological value by constructing wildlife crossings (such as underpasses, viaducts and culverts) and erecting fences to impede the access of wild animals to roads and rail lines. It also aims to protect forest biodiversity through nature-friendly and adapted forest management and by redirecting recreation activities to less sensitive areas.
17 May 2016A LIFE project team has made an unexpected discovery on the island of Pianosa in Tuscany. The European hare of Italy (Lepus europaeus meridiei), a subspecies of brown hare, is completely extinct from the Italian mainland, but the hare population found on the island has been genetically determined to be that of the rare subspecies. The island hare population still has all genes intact from the original European hare of Italy.
The LIFE project beneficiary, the Tuscan Archipelago National Park and the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), is restoring the native fauna of the Tuscan islands as part of the RESTO CON LIFE project (LIFE13 NAT/IT/00047). Its researchers captured and examined the hares during the winter 2015/16, with the voluntary help of expert hare catchers from several national hunting management units of the regions of Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and Abruzzo.
13 May 2016The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella was the guest of honour at the closing conference of Project MIGRATE (LIFE11 NAT/MT/001070) on 29 April 2016 in Malta. The four-year project gathered data on the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) through a combination of modelling of available oceanographic data and boat-based observations.
“The Bottlenose dolphin and loggerhead turtle are iconic species, not just for Maltese waters, but for the Mediterranean as a whole,” said Commissioner Vella in his keynote address.
04 May 2016 Awareness of urban transport pollution was boosted earlier this month when France's regional newspaper, Le Dauphiné Libéré, highlighted the success of the LIFE project Urbannecy (LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125) in reducing gas emissions in Annecy.
The article coincided with a visit by the Head of the LIFE Environment Unit at DG Environment, Hervé Martin, who came to Annecy on 6 April 2016 to see first-hand how the project is achieving its goal.
The objective of the LIFE+ Urbannecy project is to improve the urban environment via a logistics platform using ecological vehicles. Due to the need for daily goods deliveries, transport has become a serious headache for the medium-sized city whose old town has very narrow streets, parts of them exclusively pedestrian.
03 May 2016The LIFE GIOCONDA (LIFE13 ENV/IT/000225) project organised a LIFE national thematic meeting in Florence, Italy, on 13 April 2016, to discuss governance issues relating to the environment and human health. The meeting was organised with the collaboration of the Office for Participation Policies of the Tuscany Region, and support from the Italian LIFE monitoring team (NEEMO).
‘Participation, risk perception, knowledge transfer and exchange in environment and health’ was the title of the event, which brought together eight LIFE projects. The participants shared their experience and knowledge and discussed the best communication channels and tools to improve citizens’ and professional stakeholders’ perceptions of the risks posed by different environmental pressures on human health. The goal was to enhance both the process of evidence-based decision-making and policy uptake of the outcomes of EU-funded public health research.
The objective of the GIOCONDA project, under the coordination of the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the Italian National Research Council, is to provide local authorities with an innovative methodology that supports the implementation of environmental and health policies, by involving young people in the decision-making process. To this end, data on air and noise pollution is combined with information obtained from an online platform, on which teenagers record their perceptions of health risks. This tool is currently being tested in schools in four Italian areas, and should be made available for use throughout Italy later this year.
26 April 2016Experts leading a LIFE project in Greece focusing on improved management of the country's renowned olive crop have caught the attention of officials at the Ministry of Agriculture looking to develop new environmentally-friendly practices in Greek farming.
A delegation from the oLIVE-CLIMA project (LIFE 11 ENV/GR/942), a five-year initiative that began in October 2012, recently met with Markos Mpolaris, Alternate Minister of Rural Development and Food in Greece. The meeting examined the project's contribution to improving the quality and sustainable management of the olive crop and coincided with the ministry's interest in seeking fresh ideas for environmentally-friendly agriculture, as part of the Greek national programme for rural development running up to 2020.
The oLIVE-CLIMA project, part-funded by the EU's LIFE programme, is developing and applying new olive crop management practices focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The project seeks to enhance the long-term storage of carbon dioxide in the soil by increasing the rate of organic matter build-up and to improve soil fertility, reducing the need for artificial fertilisers.
19 April 2016The annual LIFE Best Awards will once again take place at EU Green Week in Brussels. The awards recognise the most outstanding LIFE projects completed in the previous calendar year. This edition sees a number of innovations. For the first time, the ‘Best of the Best’ LIFE projects – those adjudged to be just that little bit more outstanding than the rest – will be announced live at the awards.
There will be separate awards ceremonies for LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment. Both of these will take place at The Egg conference centre, 175 Rue Bara/Barastraat, Brussels on Tuesday, 31 May 2016.
The LIFE Nature Best Awards will take place from 14:00-16:00. The LIFE Environment Best Awards will take place from 17:00-19:00. Each award ceremony will be followed by a networking cocktail.
18 April 2016Intentional poisoning poses a direct threat to conservation efforts across Europe, but a LIFE Nature Platform Meeting is being organised to assess LIFE's contribution to reducing the risk of poisoning and to address ways in which human-wildlife conflict can be best resolved.
The meeting, which will be hosted by WWF Greece in Athens on 19-20 May, is expected to broaden the scope of expert networks and to determine future coordinated actions. It will focus on exchanging capacity building and best practice in the areas of awareness raising, prevention, case definition, evidence collection and legal enforcement among LIFE beneficiaries, competent authorities and stakeholders.
The meeting is being held in the context of the European Union policy framework on the illegal killing of wildlife. Results and recommendations will be made available on the Natura 2000 Communication Platform. The working language of the meeting will be English.
15 April 2016The 2016 edition of the Natura 2000 Awards is underway. Join those showing their appreciation for Natura 2000 and vote now for your favourite of the 24 finalists, several of which are LIFE projects.
On the 23 May 2016, Commissioner Vella will announce the winners of the 2016 Natura 2000 Awards at a special ceremony in Brussels. Alongside the winners in each of the award categories - which are chosen by a jury - the project receiving the most votes from the public will win the coveted European Citizens' Award.
Voting for the citizens' award, which closes at midnight on 8 May 2016 couldn't be easier – it is done via a dedicated website.
14 April 2016The LIFE Communications Team has updated and relaunched the Communication Tools pages of the LIFE website.
These pages are designed to give LIFE project beneficiaries and partners practical advice and guidance about the communications aspects of their projects.
The Communication Tools section now includes a guide to the communication requirements for LIFE projects; a set of resources, including downloadable logos and presentations, recommended reading and advice on all types of obligatory and recommended communication actions; and examples of good communication from recent LIFE projects.
The toolkit includes practical information to help projects produce effective websites, layman’s reports, after-LIFE Plans and on-site noticeboards, and to achieve the desired impact from community and expert events, media relations, social media and engagement with policymakers at regional, national and EU level.
07 April 2016The European Commission has initiated a survey to gather evidence on how the Natura 2000 network contributes to ecosystem restoration. Those involved in ecosystem restoration actions or with information about restoration work within Natura 2000 sites are requested to participate in the survey, including experts working within the framework of LIFE projects. Responses should be completed by 15 April 2016.
This questionnaire is a part of a wider data-gathering effort for the study ‘Technical support in relation to the promotion of restoration in the context of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’, which is reporting to the Commission. The aim is to develop a better understanding of what is happening in relation to ecosystem restoration activities across the EU, in different Member States, for different sectors, and for different types of habitat.
06 April 2016 Since 2005, the Best LIFE Environment projects have been recognised at an annual award ceremony. For the second year running, you have the chance to choose your favourite project. The one with the most votes will be presented with the LIFE Citizens' Award for environment at EU Green Week in Brussels on 31 May 2016.
You are being asked to vote for your favourite environmental project from the winners of the Best LIFE Projects 2015. A total of 25 projects have been shortlisted – 24 Best LIFE Environment projects, plus one LIFE Information & Communication project with an environmental theme. These have been meticulously selected by environmental experts according to rigorous criteria.
The objective of the LIFE Environment Best Project Awards is to help identify and raise awareness of those projects whose results, if widely applied, could have the most positive impact on the environment and green growth. Projects not only need to be technically sound, public support is also a vital component of the LIFE story. And it often makes a big difference to the success of a project. That's why we want to hear from you. The countdown to the LIFE Citizens' Award for environment has begun…
04 April 2016The LIFE project Urbannecy (LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125) in Annecy, France is delivering technical know-how on how to reduce urban transport pollution in cities.
While the last decade has seen European cities take major steps to tackle traffic congestion and related pollution, little attention has been paid to the goods distribution process, which is one of the major sources of traffic congestion and air and noise pollution in urban areas.
The results of the Urbannecy project are expected to be highly policy relevant. The Head of the LIFE Environment Unit at DG Environment, Hervé Martin, is to visit the French project on 6 April 2016 to see first-hand how gas emissions are being reduced in the city.
31 March 2016 The CLEAN-ROADS (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000002) project is gathering information from motorists about the new Road Weather Information System (RWIS) it has been testing during the winter, near the city of Trento in northern Italy. The system aims to maintain roads in a more efficient and sustainable manner. The short Italian-language survey can be accessed here.
De-icing chemicals, in particular salt, are typically used for road maintenance in winter, but they have a negative impact on soil, vegetation and water, as well as on roads and vehicles. The CLEAN-ROADS project wants to optimise salt-spreading operations, to reduce salt usage and the environmental impacts of road maintenance. The approach taken gives drivers a better understanding of conditions and allows them take more responsibility as they travel.
30 March 2016 Project staff, experts and stakeholders working together to restore Lake Stymfalia, an inland wetland in southern Greece home to numerous species of resident and migratory birds, are hailing improvements to the lake's health and biodiversity. The upturn is due to the LIFE-Stymfalia project (LIFE12 NAT/GR/000275), a four-year initiative that is part-funded by €1 million from the European Union's LIFE programme and which has now reached its halfway point.
Cutting twelve acres of dense reed beds has helped to return part of the lake to its natural state, and the harvested reeds are being used as a raw material for an innovative pellet manufacturing facility to create renewable fuel.
Engaging the local community in the rejuvenation of the wetland has been at the heart of project activities so far. More than three hundred farmers and local residents have signed an agreement pledging support for the project's goals, in particular the development of more sustainable water management and agricultural practices.
As well as seminars with local stakeholders to promote environmental awareness, project staff have led educational activities for schools in the area and have promoted rural entrepreneurship as a way of using the restoration of the wetland to the long-term advantage of the local economy.
Representatives of the GeoparkLIFE project received the accolade at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel and tourism convention.
23 March 2016 The GeoparkLIFE project (LIFE11 ENV/IE/000922) has won a prestigious National Geographic prize for its efforts to protect and enhance the pristine environment of Burren in western Ireland.
The Destination Leadership award recognises the efforts made by the GeoparkLIFE project consortium to encourage the local tourist industry to embrace sustainable practices. The prize, one of National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards, reflects the project’s success in combining the goals of environmental protection and tourism development.
Representatives of the GeoparkLIFE project received the accolade at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel and tourism convention.
22 March 2016 The deadline for entries to this year's LCiP Awards in Wallonia is fast approaching. The LCiP Awards are part of the LIFE project LifeCycle in Practice (LIFE12 ENV/FR/001113) that helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belgium (Wallonia), France (Nord Pas de Calais), Portugal and Spain (Basque Country) reduce the environmental impact of their products and services through the uptake of life-cycle approaches.
Applying life-cycle approaches such as life-cycle assessments, ecodesign and environmental labelling is becoming progressively more important as businesses are increasingly expected to enhance resource efficiency, pollute less and generally be more environmentally-friendly.
21 March 2016 The LIFE Grote NeteWoud project (LIFE12 NAT/BE/000438) has a new route app to encourage exploration of natural areas in Flanders managed by project beneficiary Natuurpunt. The route app was launched on 20 March 2016 in the Grote Netewoud Visitors Centre in Meerhout, Belgium.
At the launch, the app was introduced by Noah Janssen, Director of Nature Management at Natuurpunt and people were given the first opportunity to walk the routes in the Grote Netewoud nature reserve with this new information resource.
Visitors can download the app for free before starting on the nature trails. Along the way, it offers explanations and pictures of the typical plants, animals, landscapes and cultural heritage, together with general information about the Natura 2000 network and the LIFE programme. The route app provides a choice of free walking tours covering the whole of Flanders, with area maps and a simple interface for selecting nearby routes. It also notifies users when new routes are added.
17 March 2016 The most effective and inspiring LIFE projects completed during 2015 will be honoured at award ceremonies taking place during EU Green Week on 31 May 2016. And they can now be exclusively revealed online…
In all, some 52 Best Projects have been selected, based on scoring of a range of criteria (see the LIFE Best Projects brochures for details). The winning projects represent the three strands of the LIFE+ programme - Nature; Environment; and Information & Communication – and are drawn from 15 EU Member States in total (see infographic).
Below you will find the full list of projects, presented in chronological order by project reference. To find out more about all 52 award-winners, check out the Best Projects section of the LIFE website.
16 March 2016 The European Commission is organising a policy conference on Europe's forest ecosystems. Beyond wood - the multiple services provided by Europe's forests, which takes place on 23 May 2016 in Brussels, will gather key players in the field to discuss what needs to be done and how the EU can help.
The conference is based around three themes:
A panel debate will tease out possible pathways to the achievement of the EU biodiversity targets and enhancing forest ecosystem services.
10 March 2016 Awareness of the Natura 2000 network in Spain is getting a major boost thanks to the LIFE project Activa Red Natura 2000 (LIFE11 INF/ES/000655). The first episode of the LIFE project's specially developed documentary series for national broadcaster RTVE national was shown on 5 March 2016. The 28-episode series is being broadcast weekly on Saturdays at 13h30 on the RTVE channel La 2, and also every Sunday at 09h05 on Radio 5.
The 30-minute episodes look at the importance of the Natura 2000 network in protecting Spain’s important natural and cultural heritage, including vulnerable species and habitats, and it focuses on people who are conducting sustainable economic activities in the protected sites.
09 March 2016 Please take a couple of minutes of your time to anwser to our user satisfaction survey for the LIFE website. This survey will help us to re-design and improve the website. It will be open for two months until 07th of June.
Results of the survey will be shared on the LIFE website and on our Facebook page mid June. Please note that no private data is collected in this survey.
We thank you for participating!
03 March 2016 Two Italian LIFE projects, LIFE CLEANSED (LIFE12 ENV/IT/000652) and SEKRET Life (LIFE12 ENV/IT/000442), presented their findings at a workshop organised by the region of Tuscany on 24 February 2016 in Florence. Both projects are dedicated to the treatment and reuse of sediment dredged from rivers and ports. They contributed to the workshop session, ‘Dredging in ports: a challenge to the environment’.
The workshop was attended by, among others, Federica Fratoni, councillor for the environment of the region of Tuscany; Giovanni Motta the Manager of environmental services for the port authority of Livorno; Elizabeth Scialanca, Desk Officer (DG ENV LIFE Unit), European Commission; and NEEMO project monitor Roberto Ghezzi .
29 February 2016 Spain's Murcia region has awarded a prestigious sustainability prize to WaterReuse (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000184), a LIFE environmental project led by a private-sector chemicals business, Destilerías Muñoz Gálvez. The award reflects the project's contribution to reducing water consumption and cleaning up industrial wastewater for reuse.
Destilerías Muñoz Gálvez - one of the winners of the Murcia regional government's 8th Regional Sustainable Development Awards in the eco-efficiency category - is the coordinator of the two-year, €1.6 million LIFE project that concluded in September 2015. Half of the project budget was provided by LIFE, the EU's flagship environmental programme.
The jury of environmental experts awarding the prize highlighted the project's work to remove pollutants in wastewater from chemical processes, and to reuse 95 per cent of that wastewater.
26 February 2016 LIFE will hold a platform meeting and networking event on the restoration of coastal and inland dune habitats in Zandvoort, Netherlands, from 15 to 17 June.
The platform will, for the first time, bring together projects focusing on the restoration of these habitats ahead of the next Atlantic and Boreal Seminars for the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process. The experience of LIFE projects in the restoration of coastal and inland dune habitats will make an important contribution to the background documents for the seminars.
A key element of the Biogeographical Process is ongoing networking and the exchange of knowledge and best practices amongst those involved in managing Natura 2000 network sites, with the aim of promoting synergies amongst Member States that will help them achieve the targets the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Best practices demonstrated by LIFE projects in the management of dune habitat types and key species have a valuable role to play.
22 February 2016 The LIFE project Vultures’ Return (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278) finished last year, but the project team continue to see the fruits of their work. On 7 February 2016 the project beneficiary Green Balkans announced that they had observed the first egg of bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) laid in Bulgaria for over 60 years.*
“The egg was laid in our Wildlife Rescue Centre, following eight years of care and attempts to persuade the extremely aggressive female to settle with the male that was chosen for her and after a major reconstruction of the aviary,” explains Project Manager Elena Kmetova.
Green Balkans established its Wildlife Rescue Centre in 1996, with the aim of bringing back species that had gone extinct in Bulgaria.
18 February 2016 The Slovenian project LIFE DINALP BEAR (LIFE13 NAT/SI/000550), which targets the conservation of brown bear (Ursus arctos) populations, has just published new guidelines on responsible tourism practices.
The guidelines were prepared to introduce the concept of the non-consumptive use of bears in tourism in the northern Dinarics and to set specific recommendations for the development of different non-consumptive products.
The guidelines note that “although bears are hunted in many European countries, they are increasingly valued alive in the context of wildlife tourism, and for conservation and educational reasons. The non-consumptive use of bears in tourism takes advantage of the growing need of humans to experience ‘pure’ wildlife and involves recreational activities that don’t ‘use’ bears but value them for their role as a top predator and an integral part of a well-functioning ecosystem. Bear watching and photography are nowadays the most common forms of non-consumptive bear use.”
17 February 2016 The latest LIFE poster focuses on bioenergy. It shows how LIFE, in a bid to support the EU's transition to a low-carbon economy and move away from fossil fuels, is instrumental in helping develop innovative technologies that transform biomass resources, such as agricultural residues, organic waste or energy crops, into useful energy carriers such as heating, electricity and transport fuel.
The new bioenergy poster presents four examples of innovative technology:
PROGRASS (LIFE07 ENV/D/000222) focuses on grassland biomass using a state of the art technique known as the Integrated Generation of Solid Fuel and Biogas from Biomass (IFBB). Thanks to IFBB, the project team discovered that 45% of the energy stored in grassland biomass can be transformed into heat. In combining the IFBB-system with a biogas plant that produces excess heat, the value of heat provision can be raised by up to 53% of the gross energy yield. The team used the technique to successfully promote biomass and biogas production from protected grassland sites and ensure the livelihood of small farmers in marginal areas.
16 February 2016 The DISCOVERED LIFE project (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000761) has produced a documentary entitled ‘Discovering Lindane: the legacy of HCH production’.
The documentary, which was released late last year, received a prize in the XVIII Félix de Azara Awards 2015, given by the province of Huesca for the best film in the social media category.
The 33-minute film tells the story of how the uncontrolled dumping of toxic hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) waste by the company Inquinosa between 1974 and 1992 led to one of Western Europe’s most serious pollution incidents. This currently affects more than 40 000 people in the Gállego River Basin in the Spanish autonomous region of Aragón.
15 February 2016 The LIFE COLRECEPS project (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000754) held an awareness-raising event on 15 January 2016 in the nursery school COLORINES, Laguna de Duero, near Valladolid.
The project, which was launched to construct a demonstration plant for the recycling of expanded polystyrene (EPS) waste in the Spanish province of Valladolid, has been working with the nursery school to develop activities for children.
When adapted for playschool-age children, the message of the project is simple: “White foam [expanded polystyrene] is not for throwing away.” Activities are also teaching the children about cooperation and team work.
08 February 2016 An indicative planning for the LIFE call 2016 is now available. Applicants busy designing a potential new LIFE project now have a rough guide to the expected deadlines and submission routes. In addition, the total budget allocations for project types and subprogrammes are detailed.
The official 2016 call is provisionally scheduled to be published in the second half of May. Once ready, an application package and supporting information will also be made available, similar to previous calls.
28 January 2016 On Saturday, 23 January 2016 the LIFE Environment project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/000431) received the XXXV Jaulín prize – in the ‘regional’ category – for the defence of nature. For 35 years the Jaulín awards have been recognising the work of individuals and organisations that help towards the conservation of nature.
The Jaulín award is the third such prize received by LIFE CREAMAgua in recognition of the project’s great results to date. In November 2013 it was awarded a runners-up award in the Conama prize for sustainability and two years ago it received the 16th Prize for the Environment Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon.
27 January 2016 The recently completed LIFE project IMPERIA (LIFE11 ENV/FI/000905), which developed an ARVI tool for carrying out environmental impact assessment (EIA), is already creating an impression. The project engaged experts, researchers and authorities in Finland, who are interested in applying the ARVI method.
The project's Excel-based ARVI method is moreover already being used by the largest consulting offices and has been applied to eight extensive EIA initiatives. These include the impact assessments of the increased use of biofuels by Helsingin Energia in 2014 and of the natural gas pipe between Finland and Estonia (Balticconnector) in 2015.
26 January 2016 The European Commission today announced an investment of € 63.8 million for the first-ever "Integrated Projects" to be funded under the LIFE programme for the environment. "Integrated Projects" were introduced to implement environmental legislation on a wider scale and increase the impact of funding for plans developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level. The six projects selected have a total budget of € 108.7 million, including € 63.8 million of EU co-financing. They could leverage and coordinate over € 1 billion in complementary funding from EU agricultural and regional funds, as well as national and private funds. The money will support projects in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland, and the UK.
The main feature of these projects is their all-encompassing approach, ensuring involvement of multiple stakeholders and promoting the mobilisation of at least one other funding source, be it EU, national or private. LIFE Integrated Projects were introduced to help Member States comply with key EU legislation in four areas: Nature, Water, Air and Waste.
25 January 2016 The project LIFE-ENERGA Living Lab-PL (LIFE13 ENV/PL/000004) was awarded with the prestigious Polish Innovation Award 2015 during the Third Polish Entrepreneurship Congress at the beginning of November in Łódź.
The award is granted annually by the Polish agency for enterprise development and the Polish newspaper Forum Przedsiębiorczości to businesses and projects that have shown particular innovation in the field of research and development. In 2015 the award highlighted activities perceived as being particularly important for the future of Poland and Europe. Its main theme was innovative synergies between science and research.
22 January 2016 The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication looks at the importance of partnership work to the successful implementation of EU nature and biodiversity policy, in particular the management of the Natura 2000 network. Effective conservation today means working with a variety of different stakeholder groups. It means going beyond traditional partnerships with those who make a living from the land or sea – farmers, fishermen, foresters etc. – and working with society as a whole.
The 76-page brochure, LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation, gives a taste of the breadth of stakeholder groups atypical to nature conservation that LIFE projects have worked with up till now. It reveals the secrets of successful projects and highlights important lessons for building strong and durable stakeholder partnerships for managing EU biodiversity.