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LIFE invests in Europe's green innovation & growth

Photo: Youtube video

11 January 2017 The EU LIFE Programme has been investing in eco-innovation since its very start. LIFE projects - carried out by both SMEs and large companies - test and demonstrate new products and technologies.

A new video highlights the multiplier effect of the LIFE Programme's funding on the economy and job creation.

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LIFE Nature Integrated Project FRESHABIT reaches cruising speed

Photo: LIFE14 IPE/FI/000023

11 January 2017 Having spent its launch year reviewing sites needing to be restored, the Finnish LIFE Nature Integrated Project (IP) FRESHABIT (LIFE14 IPE/FI/000023) has now kick-started a number of measures aimed at improving the state of inland waters and biodiversity across Finland.

In its start-up phase, the project, which was launched at the beginning of 2016, focused mainly on bird counting, exploratory fishing, surveying underwater nature and cultural heritage, analysing bottom sediment compositions and geology, taking water samples and mapping habitats.

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LIFE REBus gets unused university equipment into the circular economy

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/UK/0006081

09 January 2017 A LIFE project pioneering new approaches to the circular economy has published its latest case study, which demonstrates how universities can contribute to a more sustainable use of materials by selling surplus scientific instruments.

LIFE REBus (LIFE12 ENV/UK/000608) helps businesses to develop resource-efficient business models (REBMs) to reduce raw material consumption, promote reuse and recycling and dramatically cut waste.

LIFE REBus has produced several in-depth case studies on businesses that have benefited from its know-how and strategic vision, the latest of which – UniGreenScheme – focuses on unused scientific equipment in universities.

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Huge Natura 2000 network marine area designated in Sweden thanks to LIFE porpoise project

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/S/000261

05 January 2017 The Swedish government has designated a huge marine Natura 2000 network site for the Baltic Sea harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) based on the results of the LIFE project SAMBAH (LIFE08 NAT/S/000261).

With more than a million hectares, the site is the largest marine area ever proposed by Sweden as a Natura 2000 site. It includes the majority of the species' most important breeding ground, which falls mainly within Sweden's Exclusive Economic Zone.

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Bulgarian lesser kestrel LIFE project wins national conservation award

Photo: LIFE12 NAT/PT/000527

22 December 2016The Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) project, coordinated by Green Balkans, was a 2016 National Winner in Moto-Pfohe’s Donor Programme for Preserving Natural and Cultural Heritage in Bulgaria.

The project received the honour at an award ceremony held at the National History Museum in Sofia on 8 December 2016.

 

 

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LIFE programme helps bring priolo back from brink of extinction

Photo: LIFE12 NAT/PT/000527

21 December 2016The Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina), which has been the focus of four LIFE projects since 1994, has had its conservation status improved from endangered to vulnerable in the recently updated IUCN Red List.

The species, along with the St Helena plover (Charadrius sanctaehelenae) and Seychelles white-eye (Zosterops modestus), is one of several endemic island bird species to be moved to lesser categories of risk.

 

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Strategic investment to power global launch of LIFE project’s solar technology

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/SE/000355

20 December 2016Solar technology developed during the DYEMOND SOLAR (LIFE09 ENV/SE/000355) project has attracted a key investor - the Finnish clean energy company Fortum. The LIFE project demonstrated a new screen-printing method for the cost-effective manufacture of Dye-Sensitised Cells (DSCs) and the investment will enable the project beneficiary, the Swedish solar technology company Exeger, to upscale the pilot line to achieve full-scale commercial production.

 

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LIFEnews N°9/ 2016

LIFEnews 09/2016This issue of LIFEnews focuses on the mid-term evaluation of the LIFE Programme and two events that were recently held in Brussels at EU institutions – the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) – that will shortly report to the European Commission their recommendations for the future development of the programme.

 

 

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LIFE tackles marine litter to boost the circular economy

Photo: LIFE15 GIE/IT/000999

19 December 2016In addition to being a direct threat to marine habitats and species, marine litter is also an indicator of a resource-inefficient economy. The most efficient solutions to the environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems posed by marine litter are to prevent waste generation and to promote the recycling and reuse of waste materials.
A number of LIFE projects address marine litter. They have helped Member States achieve Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD: 2008/56/EC) requirements for Good Environmental Status (GES) for their marine waters by 2020; for which one of the descriptors concerns marine litter.

 

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Successful launch event for Hungarian LIFE food waste project

Photo: LIFE15 GIE/HU/001048

16 December 2016A LIFE project in Hungary aiming to deliver a big reduction in the amount of food that goes to waste in the country has launched its activities with a successful opening conference.

LIFE-FOODWASTEPREV (LIFE15 GIE/HU/001048) focuses on changing attitudes to food waste in Hungary, where almost 400 000 tonnes of food waste is generated each year at the domestic household level alone, of which 30% is avoidable waste.

 

 

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The Best LIFE Nature projects 2015

Croatian NCP LOGO

15 December 2016This new publication from the LIFE programme, the EU’s fund for the environment  and climate action, highlights the achievements and value for money of the most outstanding Nature, Biodiversity and Information and Communication projects with a nature focus that were completed before the end of last year.

Six projects received the ultimate accolade (‘Best of the Best’ project), including a LIFE Information and Communication (INF) project in Poland that ran a far-reaching education campaign about biodiversity in the Natura 2000 network. This included a television series viewed by more than 8 million people.

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The Best LIFE Environment projects 2015

Croatian NCP LOGO

15 December 2016This new publication from the LIFE programme, the EU’s fund for the environment and climate action, highlights the achievements and value for money of the most outstanding Environment projects completed before the end of 2015.

The 25 featured projects – which are drawn from nine EU Member States – showcase examples of replicable and marketable solutions to help deliver environmental policy. Many of these demonstrate resource efficient solutions that help us move towards a circular economy, including projects on industrial symbiosis, reducing food and other organic waste, repairing bulky waste, reusing upcycled materials in production processes and establishing markets for secondary raw materials.

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Croatian NCP visits Poland as part of capacity building project

Croatian NCP LOGO

14 December 2016The Croatian National Contact Point (NCP) for the LIFE programme recently visited the Polish NCP for a highly successfully two-day meeting as part of the LIFE project HRNCP-MENP (LIFE 14 CAP/HR/000014).

The project's main objective is to promote Croatia's participation in the LIFE programme, by helping new applicants prepare successful proposals, so as to increase the number of LIFE projects in the fields of environment, nature and biodiversity, and climate change.

On the first day of the visit the Croatian team met with the beneficiaries of two successful Polish LIFE projects: Kampinos Wetland (LIFE12 NAT/PL/000084) which focuses on wetland conservation and Biorewit (LIFE10 ENV/PL/000661) which tackles soil pollution. This encompassed a trip to project sites to observe results and obtain first-hand information on the benefits and challenges encountered during project implementation.

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Fitness check for Birds and Habitats Directives

NATURA 2000 LOGO

13 December 2016The European Commission’s College of Commissioners held an orientation debate on the next steps of the ‘fitness check’ of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

One of the findings of the extensive evaluation the Commission has been carrying out since late 2014 - in which it has been consulting citizens and stakeholders across all EU Member States - was that the directives are vital for Europe's nature conservation policy and as such, their implementation needs to be improved.

The challenges identified primarily relate to the insufficient management and lack of adequate investment in the Natura 2000 network of protected sites, as well as to local deficiencies such as delays, unnecessary burdens for project permits and lack of adequate different assessments in regulating individual species.

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LIFE preparatory projects for the European Solidarity Corps call for proposals

LIFE LOGO

07 December 2016LIFE is publishing a call for proposals to support the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). The present call is to provide funding to support the deployment of the ESC. The scope of supported activities – to last between 2 and 12 months – will be environmental protection, nature conservation and restoration of natural areas and ecosystems, mainly the Natura 2000 network.

Announced by Commission President Juncker in his State of the Union speech on 14 September 2016, the ESC is conceived to offer people under 30 in Europe the chance to support a non-governmental organisation (NGO), local authority or private company active in addressing challenging situations across the European Union.
As President Juncker noted in his speech, "there are many young, socially-minded people in Europe willing to make a meaningful contribution to society and help show solidarity. […] I want this European Solidarity Corps up and running as soon as possible. And by 2020, to see the first 100,000 young Europeans taking part.”

As a response to this need, LIFE developed the environmental component of ESC. LIFE preparatory projects address specific needs for the development and implementation of Union environmental or climate policy and legislation. The preparatory projects- European Solidarity Corps will thus contribute to strengthening the Union’s capacity to provide volunteering services for young people across the European Union (in a second phase). It focuses mainly on environmental protection, nature conservation and restoration of natural areas and ecosystems and on capacity building on voluntary services among ongoing LIFE project.

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Annual Compilations of 2015 LIFE projects published

Annual compilations 2015

06 December 2016 The Annual Compilations of new LIFE projects are now online. From the 2015 call for proposals, the European Commission is investing over €220 million in 144 green and low-carbon projects in Member States.

The LIFE programme for Environment and Climate Action is co-funding 110 projects under the sub-programme for the Environment. These include 56 projects under the LIFE Environment & Resource Efficiency strand; 39 projects under LIFE Nature & Biodiversity;  and 15 LIFE Environmental Governance & Information projects.

LIFE is co-funding 34 projects under the sub-programme for Climate Action. These include 16 LIFE Climate Change Adaptation projects, 12 LIFE Climate Change Mitigation projects and six LIFE Climate Governance and Information projects.

The four Annual Compilations (Environment, Nature, Information and Climate Action) include one-page descriptions of every single project co-funded by LIFE in the 2015 call. They can be downloaded from the LIFE website.

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Belgian Nature Integrated Project boosts Natura 2000 network

Photo:LIFE14 IPE/BE/000002

29 November 2016At a recent LIFE workshop, A chance for green business – innovation and job creation preserving the environment, held at the Committee of the Regions, Tom Andries made a presentation on the Belgian Nature Integrated Project (BNIP) (LIFE14 IPE/BE/000002). Prior to the workshop, Mr Andries spoke to the LIFE communication team about the progress being made by the BNIP.

The BNIP, one of the first LIFE Nature Integrated Projects (IP), is aiming to boost the implementation of Natura 2000 network in the country. "We're trying to do this by enhancing and increasing the capacity, knowledge and experience of certain stakeholders but also of our administrations - in this case the Flemish and Walloon agencies for nature and forests, and the federal authority for the North Sea," says Tom Andries the coordinator of BNIP.

The North Sea, Wallonia and Flanders have different Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs) for the Natura 2000 network and BNIP plans to "almost completely" implement the goals of these PAFs, including the one for the marine environment. The situation, however, is complicated as Belgium incorporates three different biogeographical regions - the Atlantic, marine Atlantic and the Continental regions - and these do not align with its different federal regions. The challenge is therefore to improve cooperation on Natura 2000 network site management across the different regions by, for example, sharing experience of how best to monitor species and habitats.

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Polish 'bio-sensing' project wins development award

Bio-sensing project award

25 November 2016The LIFE project ForBioSensing PL (LIFE13 ENV/PL/000048) recently won the Polish Award of Intelligent Development 2016 in the Scientific Units category. The award was presented at a ceremony on 21 October 2016 in Rzeszow, Poland, during the Intelligent Development Forum, a prestigious nationwide event aimed at promoting and supporting European cooperation.

Using remote sensing techniques, the project is monitoring stand dynamics in Białowieża Forest, the last natural forest in central Europe. It is employing different time series and moving from point-scale monitoring (field measurements on sample plots) to monitoring on a large scale. Better data will allow national park and forest district managers to carry out more efficient protection measures for the forest ecosystems, while also advancing knowledge of the forest's biodiversity.

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LIFEnews N°8/ 2016

LIFEnews 08/2016 23 November 2016This issue of LIFEnews looks at invasive alien species (IAS). The first article focuses on a list, recently adopted by the European Commission, of IAS which require EU-wide action.

Invasive alien species (IAS) present a great threat to Europe's native species and habitats, and can have major economic consequences as well as harmful effects on human health.

The second article showcases a number of LIFE projects which have already taken action to address the problem of invasive alien species.

 

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LIFE project film shortlisted for Sondrio film festival

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/IT/000241

14 November 2016An eye-catching documentary by Marco Tessaro featuring wildlife under threat and about the work of the Trans Insubria Bionet (TIB) (LIFE10 NAT/IT/000241) project has been shortlisted for the Sondrio film festival.

The international film festival is dedicated to documentaries made in nature parks and protected areas worldwide and takes place every November in Sondrio, Italy. The powerful half-hour documentary, entitled Vive solo chi si muove, which translates as only those who move survive, depicts how the TIB LIFE project helped to preserve and restore one of the most interesting habitats in the Italian Alpine foothills. The video, which has also been shortlisted for many other festivals worldwide, was shown in Sandrio on 9 November 2016.

The aim of the Trans Insubria Bionet project was to mitigate the major environmental problem of declining biodiversity by restoring environmental connectivity and increasing the functionality of the natural ecological corridor between Campo dei Fiori and the Ticino River Parks, an area covering some 15 000 ha and including 14 Natura 2000 network sites. This corridor was identified as the most suitable passageway to preserve a functional link between the Alps and the Appennines through the Po river plain, which is fragmented by infrastructure barriers such as roads. 

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Slovakian LIFE project's exhibition demonstrates bird-friendly power lines

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272

09 November 2016The LIFE ENERGY project (LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272) has created a unique exhibition that gives visitors the opportunity to sit down safely on power lines. Entitled, “I´m sitting on a line and I´m fine,” it is part of a demonstration of how the project is making electricity infrastructure safer for birds.

The exhibition was opened during a ceremony at the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic in Bratislava on World Animal Day (4 October 2016), at which László Sólymos, Slovak Minister of Environment, seized the opportunity to be one of the first to sit on the power lines. The famous singer and actress Dorota Nvotová, who is the public face of the LIFE project , also talked at the opening of the exhibition, a video of which can be seen on LIFE Energy’s YouTube channel.

Each year, thousands of birds die after colliding with power lines in Slovakia. This has been a factor contributing to declining bird populations. The LIFE ENERGY project is reducing such kinds of bird deaths in Natura 2000 network sites in Slovakia.

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LIFE supports major new London food waste campaign

Photo: LIFE15 GIE/UK/000867

08 November 2016LIFE TRiFOCAL London (LIFE15 GIE/UK/000867) is an exciting newinitiative to prevent food waste and promote best practices for recycling unavoidable food waste has been launched in the UK.

The initiative, TRiFOCAL London – Transforming City FOod hAbits for Life – is being run by Resource London, a partnership between WRAP and the London Waste and Recycling Board, which has received €3.2 million from the LIFE programme for the campaign.

London households throw away an estimated 900 000 tonnes of food each year, 540 000 tonnes of which could have been eaten. Such waste has a negative impact on the environment and is costly for consumers, local authorities and businesses. The campaign organisers estimate that TRiFOCAL London could save Londoners £330 million pounds.

The initiative aims to change how consumers plan and shop for food as well as how they store and prepare meals. It will also address unavoidable food waste, which amounts to an estimated 360 000 tonnes annually, and how this waste can be recycled.

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Burren Programme builds on Irish LIFE project's farming for conservation legacy

Photo: LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125

07 November 2016On 7 October 2016, Martin Creed, the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, announced the opening of a new round of Burren Programme funding for farmers who undertake conservation work on their land. The Burren Programme is a pioneering approach to farming and conservation, whose foundations were laid during the BurrenLIFE project (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125).

The Burren is a part of western Ireland known for its unique landscapes, species and archaeological sites, including limestone habitats of Community importance. The health of these is closely linked to the activities of the farmers who manage the land. BurrenLIFE demonstrated tailor-made management plans for 20 farms representative of the agricultural diversity of the Burren. This provided a new model for the sustainable agricultural management of Annex I priority habitats. Actions implemented by farmers included clearing shrub encroaching on grassland, restricting grazing at key times of the year, restoring internal stone walls, and improving water supply by installing pumps and tanks.

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European lesser kestrel expert meeting held in Bulgaria

Photo: LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

04 November 2016The Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) LIFE project recently hosted one of the largest lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) expert meeting ever held. More than 50 experts from across Europe gathered in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) from the  4-8 October 2016. The meeting  addressed the threats posed to the endangered lesser kestrel, whose breeding population in Bulgaria has been declining.

Representatives from 28 different organisations – NGOs, administrative organisations and scientific institutions – provide insight into the different conservation measures for the species that have been carried out across Europe. Experts from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, France Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine were featured. The current state of the population in parts of Turkey was also outlined.

The LIFE project, which is being implemented by Green Balkans, a Bulgarian environmental NGO, is carrying out captive breeding and the translocation of young non-fledged birds from Spain. It is also identifying national agricultural payments and construction practices that are in line with lesser kestrel conservation and promoting them among local stakeholders and land users.

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Commission invests over €220 million in green and low-carbon projects in Member States

LIFE LOGO

03 November 2016The Commission has approved an investment package of €222.7 million from the EU budget to support Europe's transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future. The EU funding will spur additional investments leading to a total of €398.6 million to be invested into 144 new projects in 23 Member States. The support comes from the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. The projects illustrate the Commission's ongoing commitment to its flagship circular economy package. Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "LIFE-funded projects use relatively little funding and with simple ideas to create profitable green businesses that deliver on the transition to a low-carbon and circular economy." Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: "With the Paris Agreement entering into force, we must now focus on delivering on our promises. These projects will create the right conditions to promote innovative solutions and spread best practices in reducing emission and adapting to climate change across the EU." A press release and memo detailing the full list of projects are available online.

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Polish integrated project tackles poor air quality in Małopolska

Photo:LIFE14 IPE/PL/000021

02 November 2016 At a recent LIFE workshop on green business, innovation and job creation, held at the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussles, Tomasz Pietrusiak gave a presentation about the Małopolska Region (LIFE14 IPE/PL/000021), a Polish integrated project. Prior to the workshop, Mr Pietrusiak, from the Małopolska local government, also briefed the LIFE communications team. Below follows a brief update about the progress being made by this LIFE project.

Together with Silesia and nearby regions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Polish province of Małopolska is one of Europe's hotspots for air pollution. The main cause of the low air quality is the combustion of solid fuels in old household boilers. The Małopolska Air Quality Plan, however, aims to eliminate these boilers from 155 000 homes while improving insulation in buildings to lower emissions.

The stakes are high: around 10 million people are living in this poor air hotspot. But as Tomasz Pietrusiak emphasises, launching a long-running integrated project (IP) offers the opportunity for greater cooperation among the different administrative regions to address the problem.

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LIFE Saimaa Seal project wins photo competition

Photo: LIFE12 NAT/FI/000367

31 October 2016 The LIFE Saimaa Seal project (LIFE12 NAT/FI/000367) was announced this month as one of three winners of the Europe in my Region 2016 photo competition with a photo by Saara Olkkonen from Finland.

The photo competition aims to highlight the excellent work that projects across Europe are doing with the help of EU funding, and explore what these projects mean to local communities. The jury of the Europe in my Region 2016 photo competition chose Ms Olkkonen’s photo based on the following criteria: aesthetic quality, creativity and relevance to the competition theme. In total participants submitted 837 photos.

The LIFE Saimaa Seal project aims to safeguard the critically endangered ringed seals subspecies, the Saimaa ringed seal (Phoca hispida saimensis). Once widespread across Finland, there are now only 300 Saimaa ringed seals left. All of them are found in the Saimaa freshwater lake. In the latest Art 17 report the overall conservation status assessment is ‘unfavourable-bad’ due to the low population numbers and future prospects of this species whose land-locked characteristics isolate the species which is only present in Finland.

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European Commission praises collaborative Flemish nature project

Photo: Carine van Gerven

28 October 2016 An innovative and highly successful nature protection partnership launched in Flanders ten years ago has been identified by the European Commission as a model to be followed across the EU.

Bosland is an example of a participatory process that has delivered on the ground, not just in terms of preserving nature for nature’s sake but also for people” said Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director for Natural Capital at DG Environment of the European Commission.

“It is a governance model that paves the way for what we want to promote at EU level,” he added.

Speaking at the Bosland 10th anniversary conference which took place in Lommel, Belgium on 13 October 2016, Mr Delgado Rosa paid tribute to the “unique” partnership that has helped restore forests, habitats and biodiversity while also boosting tourism, jobs and social inclusion in the north-eastern part of Flanders.

He noted that while the EU is not yet on track on halting biodiversity loss, the Bosland partnership has achieved what is needed across the EU in terms of integrating biodiversity objectives in sectoral policies and of a stronger involvement of local and regional actors.

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Ground-breaking fishing agreement signed thanks to LIFE project

Photo: LIFE11 NAT/IT/00188

25 October 2016 The LIFE project Conflupo (LIFE11 NAT/IT/00188) has helped broker a ground-breaking agreement for the conservation of the fish stocks in the Po River.

The Po river in Italy is home to 11 European priority fish species and more than 40 native fish species. Over past decades, however, direct and indirect anthropogenic impacts have contributed to the impoverishment of the fishing community. It was therefore essential and urgent that the regions involved in the Po river management agreed on a way to remedy this situation.

To this end, the Conflupo project, in cooperation with the LIFE Barbie project (LIFE13 NAT/IT/001129) promoted the development of a common agreement between Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto. Further to an initial meeting between all stakeholders in September 2015, an agreement was signed in February 2016 by all four regions, "for a sustainable and joint management of the fishing activities and the conservation of the fish stocks in the Po River."

A first in northern Italy, the agreement was transposed into regional law by Lombardy on 30 September 2016.

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LIFE project makes first industrial conveyor belt from recycled plastic

Photo: LIFE13 ENV/IT/000477

24 October 2016 The LIFE REPLACE BELT (LIFE13 ENV/IT/000477) project, which built on the work of the RePlaCe (LIFE 08 ENV/IT/000393) project, has succeeded in turning its prototype industrial conveyor belt, whose structural components are made from recycled plastic instead of metal, into a commercial product.

This positive outcome arises from a collaboration, during both LIFE projects, between four Italian plastics companies: Plastic Metal produced recycled plastic components in its thermoplastic injection moulding machines; F.lli Virginio designed and assembled the conveyor belt, Vivi conducted the laboratory analysis of materials, and Etra manages a plastic waste separation centre.

The new modular conveyor belt uses recycled plastic components to replace structural components formerly made of aluminium and iron. It also replaces components previously made from PVC, synthetic rubber or virgin plastic with recycled plastic.

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LIFE project releases first captive-bred blue chaffinch in Gran Canaria

Photo: LIFE14 NAT/ES/000077

20 October 2016 At the start of September 2016, the LIFE+PINZON project (LIFE14 NAT/ES/000077) released the first captive-bred Gran Canaria blue chaffinch (Fringilla polatzeki), known locally as the pinzón azul, into the pine forests surrounding the summit of Gran Canaria (Spain).

The Gran Canaria blue chaffinch, which is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive, is endemic to the Canary Islands. Its entire population (around 200 individuals) is mainly restricted to the central core of Gran Canaria. The LIFE+PINZON project is planning annual releases of birds over four years, at various points in the central pine forests. The birds are being supplied by a captive breeding centre in Tafira and also translocated from a population source in a protected area (Reserva Natural Integral de Inagua) to new areas.

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Committee of the Regions highlights LIFE's role in greening the economy

Photo: ec.europa.eu

18 October 2016 The workshop EU LIFE programme: A chance for green business – innovation and job creation preserving the environment, held at the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels on 12 October 2016, was a chance for representatives of Europe's regions and municipalities to learn more about how the LIFE programme can demonstrate ways to stimulate the circular economy, build the environmental capacities of authorities and foster greater cooperation among regions.

The event, which was held during the European Week of Regions and Cities, was chaired by Babette Winter, the CoR rapporteur on Circular Economy Action Plan, State Secretary for European Affairs and Culture, Region of Thuringia, Germany. The meeting began by featuring presentations on two LIFE Integrated Projects. Tom Andries told participants about the aims and ongoing activities of the BNIP - Belgian Nature Integrated Project (LIFE14 IPE/BE/000002). The project is implementing the Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) for the Natura 2000 network in Belgium, through improved governance, capacity-building and collaboration among the Flemish, Walloon and federal authorities.

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Hungarian team makes capacity-building visit to Italy

Photo: www.lifeherotile.eu

14 October 2016 The LIFE Climate Team of the Hungarian Ministry of National Development has made a study visit to Italy, meeting with Stefania Betti, the Italian LIFE National Contact Point (NCP), and representatives from several Italian LIFE projects.  

The LIFE Climate Team, which was established under the ongoing LIFE Capacity Building Project in Hungary (LIFECAPHUN - LIFE14 CAP/HU/00010), met the beneficiaries of nine Italian LIFE projects and visited some of the project sites over a five-day visit (26-30 September).

The LIFE programme introduced action grants for Capacity Building Projects for the 2014-2017 funding period. These are projects designed to build Member States' capacity to participate more effectively in the LIFE Programme. Specifically, these projects propose interventions to develop the capacity to submit successful applications for funding for projects under the sub-programmes for Environment and Climate Action. Member States that meet the criteria may each receive funding of up to one million euros for one Capacity Building Project led by the national level public body responsible for the implementation of LIFE.

Capacity Building Projects enable the exchange of experiences and best practices with Member states that have implemented a high number of successful LIFE projects.

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Spanish LIFE project makes bioplastic from cheese by-product

Photo: LIFE13 ENV/ES/000608

13 October 2016 The LIFE WHEYPACK project (LIFE13 ENV/ES/000608) has synthesised the first bioplastic material to be made from whey, a by-product of cheese-making. The project succeeded in producing polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) through a fermentation bioprocess of whey.

The process could solve the problem of what to do with excess whey derived from the making of cheese and thus potentially boost the circular economy. It will enable the diary industry to profit from the production of new PHB biodegradable packaging tailored to the needs of their products.

The LIFE WHEYPACK project, which is based in Spain, was set up to demonstrate the environmental benefits of biodegradable food packaging, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with current non-renewable, petrol-based food packaging materials. It is demonstrating how PHB obtained from whey surplus could replace traditional plastics in the packaging of dairy products and thus offer significant economic advantages.

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MEPs praise LIFE water conservation campaign

Picture: Catch the Drop

06 October 2016 At a recent event in the European Parliament in Brussels, MEPs have paid tribute to the campaign targeting businesses, hotels and SMEs carried out in Malta by the LIFE project, Investing in Water (LIFE10 INF/MT/000091). The MEPs also recognised the  Catch the Drop campaign carried out by the HSBC Water programme.

The event, which was opened by MEP Ester De Lange, chair of the MEP Water Group, was the initiative of MEP Therese Comodini Cachia and MEP Miriam Dalli. Mrs Cachia said that both campaign projects are “exceptional” and that they show “how private industry can work hand in hand with schools to provide valuable education and how the industry can not only make a positive environmental contribution but also generate skills for green and new jobs".

Led by the Malta Business Bureau (MBB), the LIFE Investing in Water project carried out a series of information campaigns and audits to demonstrate how target stakeholders can contribute to the reduction of water and energy consumption in Malta. It focused on direct contact with enterprises as a means of gathering information, identifying water-saving practices and encouraging their adoption.

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Join the 2016 European Week for Waste Reduction

EWWR logo

04 October 2016 This year’s edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) takes place from 19-27 November 2016, so now is the time to start preparing your waste reduction activity.

The EWWR consists of multiple activities taking place all around Europe that promote awareness about sustainable resource and waste management. This year’s edition is particularly focused on packaging waste reduction.

Packaging waste linked to current consumption trends is problematic, especially when such waste is due to unnecessary, over-packaging of products. The good news is that each one of us can easily help to tackle waste reduction. Participation in EWWR is also easy. To get involved simply register your action before 4 November 2016 on the EWWR website.

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LIFE projects featured at European Ecosystem Services 2016 event

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563

03 October 2016 The LIFE NEEMO communications and monitoring team held a session on the impact of the LIFE programme on restoring ecosystem services at the European Ecosystem Services 2016 conference on 20 September 2016 at the University of Antwerp.

LIFE projects that have focused on various aspects of ecosystem services – from developing mapping tools to devising means of payment for ecosystem services (PES) for further restoration – were invited to give brief overviews of their aims and outcomes. A total of 17 projects were featured, and 47 participants registered for the session.

The focus on ecosystem services is a growing aspect of the LIFE programme. Since 2006, more than 50 projects addressed ecosystem services.

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Ecoduct construction bordering Brussels celebrated

European Union , 2016;Source: EC Audiovisual Service;Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart29 September 2016 A commemorative stone featuring the LIFE and Natura 2000 network logos was unveiled on 26 September 2016 beside the southern Brussels ring road to highlight the construction of the Groenendaal ecoduct in the Sonian Forest which borders the city.

Karmenu Vella European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Herman Van Rompuy, the former president of the European Council, and Ben Weyts, Flemish Region Mobility minister, participated in the unveiling alongside Marleen Evenepoel of Natuur en Bos, the beneficiary of LIFE - OZON  (LIFE12 NAT/BE/000166), which is carrying out the conservation work. Members from the European Commission’s DG Environment LIFE Unit and EASME were also present.
The ecoduct, a 60m-wide bridge, will allow animals to have safe passage over the ring road between Groenendaal and Waterloo. It will be completed next year and covered with shrubs and trees to simulate natural conditions for animals and to prevent disturbance by noise and light.

At the ceremony, Commissioner Vella praised the “wonderful” LIFE project, saying that it represented a good example of the value of investing in nature. The project is expected to lead to a reduction of at least 90% of the number of animals (e.g. roe deer and red foxes) killed by traffic, he said.

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Hunter convicted for killing birds reintroduced by LIFE project

Photo:LIFE 12 BIO/AT/00014326 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.”

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LIFEnews N°7/ 2016

LIFEnews 07/201614 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.




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First tests for sustainable wastewater treatment project

Photo:LIFE13 ENV/ES/000779

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.

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First lynx individuals reintroduced to Palatinate forest

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/DE/000755

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.

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Slovak LIFE project heralds contribution of field survey team to bird protection goal

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272

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.

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Manatee pair jet into Guadeloupe for reintroduction

Photo:LIFE14 NAT/FR/000885

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.

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Captive-bred Egyptian vultures released in Bulgaria

Photo: G. Georgiev / Rusenski Lom NP

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.

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Austria hosts international northern bald ibis symposium

Hope for the northern bald ibis

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.

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New Slovenian LIFE project guide to resolving human-bear conflict

LIFE13 NAT/SI/000550

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.

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Italy launches online environmental Knowledge Platform

Knowledge Platform

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.

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Bulgarian LIFE project releases ten Lesser Kestrel

Photo:LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

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.

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LIFE HUELLAS releases footprint calculator for railway construction

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/ES/000686

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.

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Dogs deployed in Réunion to support petrel conservation efforts

Photo: LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075

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.

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FRESh LIFE's remote-sensing drones in action at forest open days

Photo: LIFE14 ENV/IT/000414

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.

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European bison releases creating a viable wild population in Romania

Photo: LIFE14 NAT/NL/000987

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.

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Eight Maltese marine Natura 2000 network sites announced

Josè Herrera, the Maltese Minister of the Environment

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.

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Upcycling breakthrough for Spanish LIFE project EXTRUCLEAN

Photo:LIFE13 ENV/ES/000067

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.

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LIFEnews N°6/ 2016

LIFEnews 06/2016

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.

 

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New resources for LIFE project applicants

Patners4LIFE

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.

 

Seabirds prosper as LIFE project makes islands rat-free

Photo: LIFE11 NAT/UK/000387

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.

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Captured carbon dioxide used to lower pH of seawater in power plant

Photo:LIFE13 ENV/ES/000426

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.

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Bear introduced to Pyrenees to boost genetic quality

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/ES/001394

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.

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LIFE Nature platform meeting on restoration of sand dune habitats

NEEMO EEIG/Justin Toland

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.

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LIFE FutureForCoppiceS workshop on sustainable forest management

LIFE FutureForCoppiceS LOGO

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.

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Contribute now to LIFE mid-term evaluation

Photo: LIFE13/NAT/SK/001272

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.

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Slovakian LIFE project rescues ground squirrels

Photo: LIFE13/NAT/SK/001272

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.” 

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LIFE project demonstrates first Mediterranean green roof

Photo: LIFE12ENV/MT/000732

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.

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Fish migration event highlights LIFE awareness campaigns

World Fish Migration Day

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.

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LIFE GYPCONNECT welcomes two new bearded vultures to France

Photo: LIFE14 FR/NAT/000050

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.

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NGOs operating grants 2016 - restricted call

2016 NGO call

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.

Highlights from the 2015 Best LIFE Awards

2015 BEST AWARDS

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).

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First EU wide Info Day in Brussels will be available in streaming

Image: Tango! Desktop Project

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#

LIFE Nature projects the big winners at Polish innovation awards

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/PL/000654

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.

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Green roof boosts wildlife in Scottish industrial site

Photo:www.buglife.org.uk

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.

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LIFE project tracks migrating lesser kestrels to Africa and back

Photo:LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

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.

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Italian LIFE projects influence national food waste legislation to boost circular economy

Nowaste

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.

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Commission announces winners of the 2015 LIFE Best Awards

2015 LIFE Best Awards

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.

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Three LIFE projects win at Natura 2000 Awards

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment

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.

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Engaging citizens in Bulgaria to crack wildlife crime

Photo:LIFE12 NAT/BG/001218

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.

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Eurasian lynx to be reintroduced to German forest

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/DE/000755

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.

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Launch of Italian platform for environmental best practice

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/ES/000761

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.

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New film festival award nomination for DISCOVERED LIFE documentary

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/ES/000761

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.

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LIFE AQUASEF reduces aquaculture energy costs by up to 30%

Photo: LIFE13 ENV/ES/000420

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).

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Innovative remote monitoring of former LIFE project sites

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/A/000613

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.

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Tagging first raises hopes for endangered bearded vultures in France

LIFE GYPCONNECT logo

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.

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European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) award-winners announced

European Week for Waste Reduction

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.

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LIFE launches 2016 call for action grants: more than €330 million available

LIFE 2016 Call

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.

For the sub-programme for Environment, this call will cover action grants for "Traditional" projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects.

For the sub-programme for Climate Action, this call will cover action grants for "Traditional projects", Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects.

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LIFE project to build 'ecoduct' for wildlife around Brussels

Photo: LIFE12 NAT/BE/000166

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.

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LIFE team discovers rare Italian hare on Tuscan island

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/IT/00047

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.

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Commissioner Vella highlights Maltese marine conservation project

Photo:LIFE11 NAT/MT/001070

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.

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LIFE Urbannecy project on urban transport pollution raises awareness in France

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125

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.

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Italian national thematic meeting on environment and health

Photo:LIFE13 ENV/IT/000225

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.

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Greek olive crop and climate change project gets national attention

Photo:LIFE 11 ENV/GR/942

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.

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LIFE Best Awards at Green Week

LIFE Best awards

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.

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LIFE Nature Platform Meeting on wildlife poisoning

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/E/000062

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.

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Vote now for your favourite Natura 2000 project

Natura 2000 Awards

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.

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New communication tools for all LIFE projects

LIFE LOGO

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.

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Call for Natura 2000 ecosystem restoration evidence

NAT2000 LOGO

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.

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Vote for your favourite LIFE Environment project!

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125

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…

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European Commission visits LIFE project on urban congestion

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125

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.

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CLEAN ROADS seeks feedback on road weather information system

Photo:LIFE12 NAT/GR/000275

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.

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Working in partnership to rejuvenate Lake Stymfalia

Photo:LIFE12 NAT/GR/000275

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.

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LIFE project wins coveted award for sustainable tourism promotion

Photo:GeoparkLIFE

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.

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LCiP Awards 2016: celebrating SMEs reducing their environmental impact

LCIP LOGO

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.

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Belgian LIFE Nature project launches route app for visitors

LIFE Grote NeteWoud project app

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.

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LIFE announces the Best Projects of 2015

Best Projects of 2015

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.

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Beyond Wood - forest ecosystems services policy conference

forest ecosystems services policy conference

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:  

  1. EU forests ecosystems, which will examine the challenges and opportunities of forest provisioning, regulation, habitat and cultural services.
  2. Preserving and enhancing EU forest ecosystems, which will look at real-life experiences of managing forest landscapes and enhancing their benefits in different contexts.
  3. EU actions to benefit from, and preserve, forest ecosystems.

A panel debate will tease out possible pathways to the achievement of the EU biodiversity targets and enhancing forest ecosystem services.

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Spanish national television features LIFE project documentary series

RTVE website

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.

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Your opinion counts! Today starts our survey for the LIFE website

LIFE 2016 survey

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!

To the survey >>

LIFE projects highlighted at Italian workshop on treatment and reuse of dredged sediment

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/IT/000442

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 .

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LIFE wastewater project wins sustainability prize 

WaterReuse LOGO

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.

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LIFE platform meeting on restoration of sand dune habitats

Photo: LIFE09 NAT/NL/000418

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.

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First bearded vulture eggs laid for 60 years in Bulgaria

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278

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.

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New tourism guidelines from Slovenian bear project

LIFE DINALP BEAR POSTER

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.”

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New LIFE poster on bioenergy

LIFE and bioenergy

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.

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DISCOVERED LIFE documentary on pesticide pollution wins award

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/ES/000761

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.

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LIFE COLRECEPS raises awareness of polystyrene reuse in schools

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/ES/000754

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.

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Indicative planning for the LIFE call 2016

LIFE LOGO

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.

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LIFE CREAMAgua wins prize for the defence of nature

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/000431

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.

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LIFE environmental impact assessment tool is widely adopted

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/FI/000905

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.

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Commission invests € 63.8 million in new environmental projects across Member States

LIFE LOGO

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.

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LIFE project wins Polish Innovation Award

ENERGA LOGO

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.

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New publication: LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation

LIFE and Climate change adaptation

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.

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