24 February 2014 Years of work by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) the Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS), as well as joint efforts of the LIFE project "Return of the Neophron” (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152) and the BirdLife UNDP/GEF project Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) have paid off. The Sudanese Government and the Sudanese Electricity company have agreed to switch off and replace a dangerous power line in the area of Port Sudan that has killed hundreds or even thousands of Egyptian Vultures and other birds over the years.
The Port Sudan area used to be the most important resting and feeding ground in Sudan for the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) during its exhausting autumn migration. The construction of the power line in the 1950s had a negative consequence for the species: large numbers of birds have been electrocuted when coming into contact with it. In 2010, BSPB and SWS began a series of actions to try and solve the problem, one of which is The Return of the Neophron.
21 February 2014 The Spanish LIFE Nature project, PROYECTO ESTANY (LIFE08 NAT/E/000078), has successfully reintroduced hundreds of freshwater mussels to Banyoles Lake in Girona, Catalonia. This success was built on the project's efforts in developing the most successful captive breeding programme for freshwater mussels of the Unio genus in Europe.
The project recreated the delicate natural breeding cycle of the mussels in a laboratory near Banyoles Lake. They used water and sediment from the lake as well as 900 fish, on which the mussels depend during their parasitic larval stage. In multiple breeding cycles since 2011, the team have produced 130 000 young mussels - 80% U. mancus and 20% U. ravoisieri.
The team nurtured the mussels in the laboratory, thus avoiding the extremely dangerous early days of a mussel's life in its natural environment.
20 February 2014 A UK-led LIFE project, RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032), has published a new report highlighting the importance of river restoration in Europe. Available in five languages (English, French, Dutch, Italian and Finnish), this timely publication emphasises the value of river restoration in terms of increased ecological quality, flood risk reduction and social and economic benefits.
Between 2010 and 2013 the project developed tools - including a website and RiverWiki - to help practitioners across Europe increase their knowledge, skills and opportunities to create networks in the field of river restoration.
The report River Restoration in Europe: The art of the possible brings together knowledge from the LIFE project and the recent European River Restoration Conference to provide policy-makers and river basin managers with a useful document for addressing the key policy and technical challenges ahead.
The new report is designed to raise awareness of the ability of river restoration to mitigate against the effects of climate change on river habitats.
17 February 2014 The UK LIFE+ project IPENS (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000384) has published a report identifying 11 priorities for action to improve the condition of Natura 2000 sites in England. These priorities are part of a scoping exercise which will now be used to develop a strategic programme for management of the Natura 2000 network in England.
The project team conducted extensive analysis of available data sources and discussions with key stakeholders to identify the 11 priority threats and pressures facing Natura 2000 sites in England. These include habitat fragmentation, aerial nitrogen deposition, diffuse water pollution and coastal squeeze. The project will now develop ‘theme plans’, clarifying the nature of each issue and identifying (new) solutions across Natura 2000 sites.
12 February 2014 A new report by the European Environment Agency reveals that bat numbers in selected European countries increased by more than 40% between 1993 and 2011, an important correction to significant historic declines. According to EEA Executive Director, Hans Bruyninckx, the findings of the technical report on bats suggest "that targeted conservation policies over the last years have been successful. But many bat species are still endangered, so preserving their habitats is still an important priority."
The LIFE programme has been one key source of targeted spending in support of EU bat conservation objectives. Since 1992, there have been a total of 55 such projects, utilising some €54.8 million of EU funding, and mobilising almost €114 million in total, a significant part of which has been used to help the recovery of endangered bat species.
07 February 2014 An extensive report on the LIFE+ Environment Platform Meeting on Alternative Future Urban Mobility, which took place in Berlin in November 2013, is now available to download.
The report was written by Thomas Mayer from the LIFE+ External Monitoring Team (Astrale), which was responsible for organising the Platform Meeting in collaboration with host LIFE project, Clean Air (LIFE11 ENV/DE/000495). The aim of this multi-faceted project is to build a network of local and regional authorities and NGOs to support the monitoring and implementation of the Air Quality Directive, including sharing best practice and improving citizen awareness.
27 January 2014 In 2013, LIFEnews, the monthly LIFE newsletter, once again covered a wide range of key themes relating to the LIFE programme and EU environmental and nature conservation policy and practice. Here we count down the five most read articles of the year.
In fifth place is an article from March 2013 previewing the Climate Action sub-programme that has been introduced by the new LIFE Regulation for the period 2014-2020. Mette Quinn and Dominik Mayer from the Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA), spoke about the objectives for the sub-programme and the timeline for its implementation. Preparing for LIFE's new Climate Action sub-programme
24 January 2014 The results of the first trials of a hydromethane-fuelled bus for urban public transport were presented at the final conference of the LIFE+ Environment project MHyBus (LIFE07 ENV/IT/000434) in Bologna, Italy on 19 December, 2013. The project, which was led by the Region of Emilia-Romagna, carried out tests to optimize the engine for hydromethane, prepared a prototype vehicle, designed and built a dedicated fuelling station and then carried out road tests.
The prototype vehicle travelled more than 45 000 km on public roads around Ravenna without technical problems. The project found that the optimal fuel blend was a mix of 85% methane and 15% hydrogen by volume.
In the opening speech of the conference, Alfredo Peri, the Regional Councillor for Transport in Emilia-Romagna, stressed the importance of initiatives such as MhyBus in taking concrete steps towards a more sustainable mobility and the creation of a regional value chain.
21 January 2014 With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this brand-new LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection.
The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFE's contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination.
The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE programme's contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channelled and have an even greater impact in future.
20 January 2014 Three scientists from the NGO Förderverein Waldrappteam, beneficiary of a new LIFE Biodiversity project that aims to reintroduce the critically-endangered northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) into Europe, are among the authors of a new scientific paper published by the journal Nature that reveals the secrets of why flocks of migratory birds fly in a V-formation.
The nine scientists – led by Steven Portugal - who co-authored the paper, 'Upwash exploitation and downwash avoidance by flap phasing in ibis formation flight', have seen their fascinating conclusions picked up by major media outlets around the world, including The New York Times, National Geographic, BBC and Spiegel, among many others.
The paper outlines the results of a data collection study, during which a group of 14 northern bald ibises underwent a human-led migration from Salzburg in Austria to southern Tuscany, Italy. Using new technology the team monitored the ibises as they flew in a V-formation, recording their position, speed, heading and every single wing flap over a 43-minute period.
17 January 2014 The latest LIFE Focus publication takes stock of the achievements to date of the LIFE Nature strand of the LIFE programme. Titled Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature, the 60-page brochure provides a user-friendly snapshot of the detailed assessments contained in the ex-post (after project's end) evaluations of LIFE projects.
This evaluation process involves visits by experts from the LIFE Monitoring Team to a random sampling of completed LIFE Nature projects a number of years after they have finished. Some 9% of all LIFE Nature projects have been evaluated thus far. As well as outlining the history and methodology of the ex-post evaluation process, this new publication draws on the results of that qualitative research, backed up by new interviews with key stakeholders across several EU Member States, to highlight the lessons that can be learned in terms of LIFE Nature's long-term impact and sustainability at both project and programme level.
14 January 2014 In 2008, LIFE-Projekt Maifisch (LIFE06 NAT/D/000005) first released allis shad (Alosa alosa) larvae into the Rhine system as part of an effort to bring this once abundant fish species back from extinction in this river system. Now, monitoring confirms that the allis shad has successfully spawned in the Rhine for the first time in more than half a century.
Three juvenile allis shad were detected in a cooling water outtake of a nuclear power plant on the upper Rhine late September 2013. Since the nearest location in which the species was reintroduced was some 100 km downstream, experts believe it is very unlikely that the specimens directly come from fish stocking measures undertaken by LIFE-Projekt Maifisch or the subsequent LIFE+ Nature project, Alosa alosa (LIFE09 NAT/DE/000008).
In mid-November 2013, a professional fisherman caught an adult allis shad near Wörth on the Upper Rhine. Biologists of the Universities of Koblenz-Landau and Düsseldorf confirm that this was a fully-spawned female, providing a further indication that the species has spawned successfully in the Rhine.
13 January 2014 The LIFE Nature project WOLFNET (LIFE08 NAT/IT/000325) successfully staged an International Wolf Congress from 6-8 November in Caramanico Terme, in Italy's Majella National Park. The congress was organised as the final event of the LIFE project by the coordinating beneficiary, the Majella National Park, together with project partners Pollino National Park, Foreste Casentinesi National Park, the Zooprophylactic Institute of the Regions of Lazio and Tuscany, the Province of l'Aquila and the Italian environmental NGO, Legambiente.
More than 250 participants from 13 countries attended the high-level congress, which included 35 presentations on wolf conservation.
10 January 2014 A Portuguese LIFE Nature project targeting the recovery of habitats threatened by invasive plant species has received the 2013 António Mota Award (http://premiomam.mota-engil.pt/) in recognition of its commitment to social inclusion.
The BRIGHT project (LIFE10 NAT/PT/000075) has involved a team of seven convicts from Coimbra Regional Prison, who work alongside the beneficiary's staff on control and conservation tasks. Demonstrating the value of this collaboration, the first of the prisoners to complete his jail sentence has since become a full-time member of the project team.
09 January 2014The new LIFE Regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, the official record of EU legislation. The Regulation - which was published on 20 December 2013 - establishes the Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes of the LIFE Programme for the next funding period, 2014–2020. The budget for the period is set at €3.4 billion in current prices.
The LIFE programme will contribute to sustainable development and to the achievement of the objectives and targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the 7th Union Environmental Action Programme and other relevant EU environment and climate strategies and plans.
The ‘Environment’ strand of the new programme covers three priority areas: environment and resource efficiency; nature and biodiversity; and environmental governance and information. The ‘Climate Action’ strand covers climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; and climate governance and information.
The programme also consists of a new category of projects, jointly funded integrated projects, which will operate on a large territorial scale. These projects will aim to implement environmental and climate policy and to better integrate such policy aims into other policy areas.
20 December 2013 The European Commission has hosted a one-day platform meeting for all the LIFE+ projects working on the development of Prioritised Action Frameworks for Natura 2000 (LIFE PAF projects). The event was held in Brussels on 5 November 2013 and aimed to promote networking and exchange between the projects and Member State representatives.
Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAFs) set out the official nature conservation priorities for a country or region. They seek to act as strategic planning tools encouraging access to as many EU financial instruments as possible in the financing of the Natura 2000 network.
17 December 2013 The Bulgarian project LIFE FOR KRESNA GORGE (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000363) has successfully set-up a compensation scheme for farmers affected by depredation of livestock by bears, wolves, jackals and stray dogs. In an area where the loss of a single head of cattle represents a significant financial loss, the humman/predator conflict has become a considerable problem. The practice of placing poisoned baits to protect livestock has become fairly common, leading to frequent episodes of poisoning that affect not only large carnivores, but also birds of prey, such as vultures and eagles.
The ‘Livestock Prevention and Compensation’ Programme has reached 218 farmers in 2013, helping to reduce conflict between the farmers and these target species.
Managed by the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna (FWFF), the scheme works by directly replacing the livestock the farmers have lost to predator attacks from FWFF’s own herds.
12 December 2013 The LIFE project MulkearLIFE (LIFE07NAT/IRL/000342) was recently presented with the Environment Award for 2013 by the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) at a ceremony in Cork, Ireland.
The project, which is being led by the Inland Fisheries Ireland, was honoured for its measures to restore degraded habitats in an area of 650 km2 of the Mulkear River catchment of the Lower Shannon Special Area of Conservation. The project’s key partners are the Office of Public Works and Limerick County Council, while The National Parks and Wildlife act as project co-financiers. A range of other stakeholders support the project including local authorities (North & South Tipperary County Councils) and other state bodies (ESB Fisheries, Teagasc, Coillte, EPA) along with the local community (IFA, ICMSA, Mulkear & District Angling Association, local schools and school children, farmers and volunteers).
11 December 2013 An Italian LIFE+ project's efforts to combat threats to the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) from grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) are explored in the latest issue of the IUCN's invasive species specialist group (ISSG) newsletter. The main aim of the LIFE+ project, EC-SQUARE (LIFE09 NAT/IT/000095), featured in an article, on page 44 of Aliens – The Invasive Species Bulletin (Issue 33) was to eliminate, or reduce, the risks posed by the spread of grey squirrels via imports from the pet trade in northern Italy.
As well as being linked with the significant decline of red squirrel numbers, grey squirrels can also cause extensive damage to trees through bark-stripping, which affects re-growth and natural tree reproduction in commercial plantations and other forest ecosystems. Moreover, the spread of grey squirrels in Italy represents a problem for the entire European continent, since from Italy the alien species is predicted to colonise surrounding countries, particularly France and Switzerland.
10 December 2013 The European Commission is launching a new Award designed to celebrate and promote best practices for nature conservation in Europe. The European Natura 2000 Award is open to any entity involved in the implementation of activities related to management of a Natura 2000 site. From authorities and businesses, to land owners , NGOs, educational institutions and individuals from all 28 EU Member States – all are eligible to apply.
The Award aims to help bring the success of the network to the public’s attention and to demonstrate its importance for protecting biodiversity across Europe. This is an urgent task: the 2013 Eurobarometer survey found that only 27% of respondents have heard of the Natura 2000 network, while only 44% have heard of the term “biodiversity” and know what it means.
09 December 2013 The European Council has adopted a regulation that establishes the Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes of the LIFE Programme for the next funding period, 2014–2020. The budget for the period is set at €3.4 billion in current prices.
The programme will contribute to sustainable development and to the achievement of the objectives and targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the 7th Union Environmental Action Programme and other relevant EU environment and climate strategies and plans.
The ‘Environment’ strand of the new programme covers three priority areas: environment and resource efficiency; nature and biodiversity; and environmental governance and information. The ‘Climate Action’ strand covers climate change mitigation; climate change adaptation; and climate governance and information.
06 December 2013 To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the EUROPARC Federation – the beneficiary of the LIFE project ‘Nature parks in Europe: a charter for sustainable tourism’ (LIFE94 ENV/F/000878) – hosted an awards ceremony to honour the achievements of protected areas. The ceremony was held at the European Parliament on 6 November and was co-hosted by the MEP Gaston Franco.
The ceremony was part of a one-day event that began with the 8th European Charter Network Meeting, which brought together managers of protected areas, tourism professionals and business leaders from across Europe for a series of workshops and plenary sessions at the Marche Representation in Brussels. The 2013 Charter Award Ceremony followed in the afternoon at the European Parliament.
More than 70 participants from 12 countries attended, and 19 protected areas were honoured with awards. Currently, the tourism activities of 119 areas follow the principles of the charter.
05 December 2013 The final conference of the LIFE project IMCM - Control of noxious or vector mosquitoes (LIFE08 ENV/F/000488) was held on 23-24 October 2013 in Montpellier, France. The conference, on integrated pest management (IPM) of mosquitoes, highlighted the scientific and technical findings of the project.
There are several challenges to implementing IPM for mosquitoes in a manner consistent with sustainable development. These include the small number of authorised insecticides available, demanding environmental standards relating to biocides, and the need to prevent the emergence of pesticide-resistance. There is also a new invasive mosquito species (Aedes albopictus) in Europe that is a potential vector of tropical diseases, including those caused by chikungunya and dengue viruses; a problem likely to increase with global warming.
LIFE IMCM has taken actions to provide effective and environmentally-sound mosquito control methodologies and to develop decision-making tools for public bodies combating mosquitoes.
04 December 2013 The LIFE+ project Iberlince (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570) continues to expand its programme to reintroduce the highly endangered Iberian lynx in southern Spain. Nearly 20 animals bred and raised in captivity by the project have been released in Andalusia in 2013 and further reintroductions are planned for spring 2014.
In 2013, the project has reintroduced:
Further reintroductions are foreseen for early 2014 in the Sierra Norte of Seville and the valley of the Guarrizas river.
Animals are only released after successfully following a pre-release programme of adaptation to their new environment. They have to demonstrate skills and behaviour appropriate to life in the wild, including hunting, fleeing danger and relations with other lynx. Specific animals are chosen for particular locations based on their genetic profile with the aim of increasing local genetic diversity.
03 December 2013 The LIFE+ project Conéctate a la Red Natura (LIFE11 INF/ES/000655) has launched a telephone hotline for Spanish citizens to ask about Natura 2000 management. This tool enables people to improve their understanding of how they can successfully co-exist with the Natura 2000 network to mutual benefit.
SEO/BirdLife launched the new Spanish freephone number 900 66 77 90 as a response to the need to overcome people's lack of awareness and understanding of the Natura 2000 network. Research showed that only 16% of citizens in Spain had heard of these protected spaces, never mind understanding correctly how they operate and what they do.
Natura 2000 covers around 27% of the Spanish territory so it is relevant to a lot of people. Many who have heard of it are concerned that the protection offered to the natural environment will cause direct conflict with their economic or leisure activities. The hotline seeks to provide people with the correct information about how they can work with the network and even benefit from it.
27 November 2013 The Best LIFE Environment projects 2012 publication profiles those environment projects that were completed by the end of 2012 and were acknowledged at the LIFE Environment Awards as having achieved outstanding results. For the ninth consecutive year, the awards highlighted best practices and innovative actions that can be replicated in other areas of Europe.
This year, a total of 13 LIFE projects were honoured with the accolade, 'Best' LIFE Environment project, while a further four projects were selected for special praise as 'Best of the Best' LIFE Environment projects. The four 'Best of the Best' projects achieved great advances in water management and demonstrated a range of transferable measures. All 17 winners are featured in this publication. They collectively highlight the huge potential of the LIFE programme for helping Member States implement environmental policy on a national and European level.
25 November 2013 The European Parliament approved the budget for the next LIFE programme on Thursday 21 November 2013. The new ‘LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action’ has a budget of EUR 3.1 billion for environmental projects carried out by public or private bodies, 2014-2020.
“This is less than Parliament requested, but still a clear increase over the [2007-13] budget of 2.2 billion euros,” pointed out European Parliament rapporteur, Jutta Haug (S&D, DE). “LIFE is a small but extremely successful and popular EU funding instrument.... We therefore voted to continue and strengthen this programme... [to face up to] new tasks and challenges,” she said.
The new LIFE programme will notably prioritise projects around climate action and resource efficiency. Indeed, the budget earmarks EUR 864 million for a dedicated sub-programme for climate action. “Given the success of [current LIFE+ climate change projects] and the urgency for innovative action and best practices on climate change, [this issue] was upgraded to a separate sub-programme to which a quarter of the LIFE budget is dedicated,” explained Ms Haug.
18 November 2013 Science for Environmental Policy (SfEP) provides an information service on the latest policy-relevant environmental findings in Europe. SfEP is a news and information service published by the European Commission’s DG Environment. It’s aim isto help the busy policy-maker keep up-to-date with the latest environmental research findings needed to design, implement and regulate effective policies. SfEP publishes both weekly News Alerts and monthly Thematic Issues. The latest Thematic Issue (October 2013, Issue 43) is dedicated to LIFE projects.
The forward of the LIFE Project issue is a guest editorial by Gabriella Camarsa and João Pedro Silva, Senior Experts on ‘Environment’ and ‘Nature and Biodiversity’, respectively, within the LIFE Communications Team (ASTRALE GEIE – AEIDL). The first part of the 16-page publication concerns LIFE Environment projects, focusing on water resource management, wastewater treatment, and the recycling and reuse of industrial waste materials. The second part of the Thematic Issue looks at LIFE Nature projects that have benefitted species and habitats within the EU Natura 2000 network of nature reserves. Peer-reviewed research publications arising from 10 LIFE co-funded projects are used to illustrate the range of contributions LIFE projects make to environmental policy.
14 November 2013 The LIFE+ project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431) has been awarded a runners-up prize in the 2013 edition of the Conama Prize for sustainability. The Conama Foundation set up the prize in 2008 to recognise the best initiatives by small and medium-sized Spanish municipalities in promoting environmental sustainability.
CREAMAgua has been recognised for its work to create and restore 16 wetland areas and 70 ha of riparian habitat along the River Flumen in Los Monegros, Spain.
13 November 2013 The final conference of the WALPHY project (LIFE07 ENV/B/000038), which was held 15-17 October at the Palais des Congrès in Namur, Belgium, attracted a total of 210 people from eight countries to share experiences and learn more about improving the hydromorphological conditions of waterways.
The conference was an opportunity to present the results of the WALPHY project, as well as enabling river management professionals, scientific experts and representatives of competent authorities to exchange information.
12 November 2013 The EU Member States represented on the LIFE Committee and the European Commission's LIFE Nature Unit have announced the Best LIFE Nature Projects 2012.
The 8 projects selected represent the most successful of the recently completed LIFE Nature projects, in terms of best practices and/or demonstration actions on nature conservation and the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.
08 November 2013 A pilot study on soil-related LIFE projects has been published by the LIFE Monitoring Team. The study analysed the contribution of the LIFE programme to the implementation, dissemination and further development of EU environmental policies and legislation in this area.
This latest study forms part of a series of thematic studies and follows the publication of analyses of LIFE’s impact on the water sector and on noise and air. The aim of the studies is to strengthen the link between the LIFE Units in charge of the management of operational projects and the Thematic Units dealing mainly with environmental policy.
30 October 2013 ‘Better to prevent than restore’ might be the motto of AlterIAS (LIFE08 INF/B/000052), a LIFE Information & Communication project, which held its final conference on 25 September in Gembloux, Belgium.
The event was an opportunity to learn about the significant results achieved by the AlterIAS project in reducing the introduction of invasive alien plant species in Belgium. It attracted around 250 stakeholders, including agronomy students and professionals, horticulture enterprises, managers of urban green areas and researchers.
Around 76% of such invasive plants are introduced voluntarily, usually for aesthetic or even environmental reasons (for example to attract bees), without any awareness of their adverse impact on biodiversity. It was therefore necessary to carry out an extensive awareness-raising and information campaign that targeted schools, gardeners and the entire ornamental horticulture supply chain.
29 October 2013 The 2013 edition of the annual European Parliament Gypsum Forum, which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 16 October, was a great opportunity to present the aims and some of the initial findings of the LIFE Environment project GtoG (LIFE11 ENV/BE/001039), which is being led by Eurogypsum, the European federation of national associations of producers of gypsum products.
The Forum aims to foster dialogue between a wide range of stakeholders in order to promote sustainable construction in Europe. The gypsum industry is responsible for 1% of all construction and demolition waste (CDW), and the GtoG project (“From Production to Recycling, a Circular Economy for the European Gypsum Industry with the Demolition and Recycling Industry”) is aiming to transform the gypsum demolition waste market. The goal is to achieve higher recycling rates of gypsum waste as a significant move towards a resource-efficient economy.
The theme of this year’s Gypsum Forum was ‘Megatrends in Construction: the three R's-Renovation-Resource Efficiency-Recycling’. MEP Jean-Paul Gauzès, the President of the European Parliament Gypsum Forum gave a welcome in which he emphasised the need to strengthen the shift towards sustainable construction.
28 October 2013 The skies over the Bulgarian coastline near the Shabla Lighthouse recently teemed with colourful kites of all descriptions in an effort to raise awareness of the need to protect the red- breasted goose in its wintering grounds in the country.
The kites – the handiwork of flying aces from Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria – took the shape of a range of fantastic creatures, from flying fish, octopus, dragons and giant silk teddy bears to, naturally, the red-breasted geese itself.
The event was the third Shabla Kite Festival to be organised annually as part of the LIFE project Safe Ground Redbreasts (LIFE09 NAT/BG/000230).
The red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) is a rare and endangered bird that spends the winter in coastal Dobrudzha, north-east Bulgaria. One of the goals of this LIFE project is to promote the region’s natural beauty and biodiversity and establish the red-breasted goose as a flagship species. Its conservation is a positive sign of the region’s move towards sustainable development, as well as being a boost to Bulgaria’s image as a country that protects its nature and wildlife.
24 October 2013 A LIFE+ Nature Platform meeting for Swedish, Danish and Finnish Nature projects was recently held in Östersund, Sweden. The meeting, which attracted 71 participants from 29 open LIFE projects, was a great opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge among the projects.
The three-day meeting (24-26 September) was organised by two ongoing Swedish LIFE Nature projects in collaboration with the Astrale LIFE monitoring team. It featured presentations from the projects, the National Contact Points and the Astrale Monitoring Team.
The meeting was also attended by two European Commission representatives: Maja Mikosinska, LIFE Technical Desk Officer and Tommy Sejersen, LIFE Financial Desk Officer. They gave presentations on the new LIFE Regulation and on recent changes in the financial aspect of project management.
21 October 2013 An updated checklist for the soldier flies (Stratiomyidae) insect family in Italy has recently been published thanks in part to new data collected in the framework of the ongoing Italian LIFE+ project, 'ManFor C.BD' (LIFE09 ENV/IT/000078).
The ‘Updated Italian checklist of Soldier Flies’ by Franco Mason, combines previous knowledge and information about this Diptera family with new data gathered by sampling with Malaise traps (tent-like structures used by researchers to collect flying insects) in some of the project test areas. Among the findings aretwo species new to the Italian fauna: Neopachygaster meromelas (Dufour, 1841) commonly known as silver-strips black; and Zabrachia minutissima (Zetterstedt, 1838). In Italy, 91 known Stratiomyidae species have already been recorded – making, it is claimed, the Italian fauna of Stratiomyidae the richest in Europe.
A comprehensive key to the European species of Chorisops Rondani, 1856 is also provided with the checklist.
18 October 2013 The LIFE+ project MoorLIFE (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202) is sending in tractors to cut back heather and create a more desirable moorland patchwork in the Peak District National Park. The intervention will re-establish a mosaic of new growth and more established plants to favour local biodiversity.
For ground-nesting birds such as grouse, a moorland patchwork provides both shelter from predators as well as more open areas for feeding. The cut patches have the added benefit of acting as a natural fire break. Traditionally, mosaics have been created by managed burning; however, cutting will allow the trimmings to be swept up and transported for use on eroded bare peat areas: the cut heather, known as ‘brash’, forms a protective layer over the peat, helping to avoid further erosion. It also provides a source of seeds, which will germinate and help rebuild the original heather cover on these eroded areas.
16 October 2013 The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, officially launched the LIFE+ project for the defragmentation of the Sonian Forest in Belgium (LIFE OZON - LIFE12 NAT/BE/000166) at a special event in the town of Hoeilaart on Friday 11 October 2013. Mr Van Rompuy said he was very pleased to launch the project, not only in his official capacity, but also as a resident of Sint-Genesius Rode (Rhode-Saint-Genèse), a town located within the forest. He pointed out that the Sonian Forest, known locally as the Forêt des Soignes or Zoniënwoud, had inspired writers and poets for centuries, from the medieval mystic Jan van Ruusbroec, to Herman Teirlinck and Jacques Brel more recently. Mr Van Rompuy was moved to compose a haiku in honour of the location of this LIFE Nature project: "Een plek van stilte over groene grensen heen: het woud van Ruusbroec" (which roughly translates as "A place of silence that crosses green borders: the forest of Ruusbroec).
Noting that the aim of the project is to reconnect fragmented patches of flora and fauna through green infrastructure such as eco-tunnels and eco-ducts, Mr Van Rompuy highlighted the fact that LIFE OZON is above all about connecting things, "And connection is the key word for the European Union. Connection between people, between cultures, between languages. that is what this project will do with forests."
14 October 2013 An online Natura 2000 Platform has been launched to allow the sharing of information, knowledge and experiences on the different habitat types.
This is a key feature of the New Biogeographical Process, launched by the 2011 by the European Commission in order to ensure the continuous and effective management of the Natura 2000 network.
LIFE projects have developed a wealth of information, experience and know-how about the protection of species and the management of different habitat types. As a result, both current and former LIFE project beneficiaries and partners can make a significant contribution to the New Biogeographical Process and are strongly encouraged to become members of this online community.
You can find more information about the New Biogeographical Process here.
For further information about the Communication Platform visit: http://www.natura2000communicationplatform.eu/
11 October 2013 Covering 40% of the European Union territory, forests are a key resource for improving quality of life and creating jobs, in particular in rural areas, while also protecting ecosystems and providing ecological benefits. Protecting this resource is at the heart of the EU's new forest strategy, unveiled by the European Commission on 20 September 2013.
EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, said: "Forests are key ecosystems, as well as a source of wealth and jobs in rural areas, if they are managed in a proper way. Sustainable forest management, ensuring the protection of forests, is a key pillar of rural development and it is one of the principles of the new Forest Strategy".
The new approach highlights that forests are not only important for rural development, but also for the environment and biodiversity, for forest-based industries, bioenergy, and in the fight against climate change.
10 October 2013 The Greek LIFE Environment project SOL-BRINE (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000299) has successfully staged an international conference to share experiences and best practices in water management, with particular reference to islands. The 'Water Is Necessary for Life – WIN4Life' conference attracted more than 150 delegates from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to the Cultural Foundation of Tinos on the Greek island of Tinos from 19-21 September, 2013.
The assembled representatives of academic institutions, public and private sector water management bodies and local authorities saw more than 70 presentations that highlighted the importance of water as a natural resource. In line with the United Nations' declaration of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, the LIFE project's closing conference provided a platform for exchanging recent ideas regarding water management, innovative wastewater techniques, treatment processes for brine and energy autonomous systems in order to address water scarcity with respect to public health and the environment.
01 October 2013 The final conference of the RESTORE project (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032), which was held in Vienna, 11-13 September, and organised in collaboration with the European Centre for River Restoration, resulted in a big success. The event attracted more than 300 delegates from 35 nations across Europe and farther afield. The programme of the conference included more than 100 presentations, three excursions and a number of workshops.
The event showcased examples of successful river restoration and inspired participants’ discussions on future challenges and opportunities for river restoration. Experiences were shared, best practices promoted and stronger networks built for future collaboration.
The significant contribution of the LIFE Programme to river restoration achievements in the EU was underlined by a number of speakers, and various LIFE projects were present during the event.
30 September 2013 An international LIFE+ Platform Meeting on Alternative Future Urban Mobility, organised by the Astrale LIFE monitoring team, will take place in UBA (German Federal Environmental Agency), Bismarckplatz 1, D-14193 Berlin, 21-22 November. Download the agenda here.
The meeting is being held in cooperation with the current German LIFE project, Clean Air , (LIFE 11 ENV/DE/000495) and the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA). There will be a presentation on the latest EU policy developments by Guido de Wilt of the European Commission DG Environment.
The aim of this compact thematic seminar is to bring together practitioners from across Europe to:
The two-day event starts in the afternoon of Thursday, 21 November.
26 September 2013A timely overview of micro-reserve conservation in Europe is presented in a new book, ‘Plant Micro-Reserves: From Theory to Practice - Experiences gained from EU LIFE and other related projects’, edited by Costas Kadis, Costas A. Thanos and Emilio Laguna Lumbreras. The book was published within the framework of the LIFE project, PLANT-NET CY (LIFE08 NAT/CY/000453).
Plant Micro-Reserves (PMRs) are small areas of land that are of peak value in terms of the in situ conservation of rare, endemic or threatened plant species. Small reserves had existed before, as the book’s introduction explains, but PMRs were first formulated as legally protected sites with their own characteristics in Valencia (Spain) in 1994. The PMR approach better addresses the protection of priority plant species, whose fragmented populations aggregate in microhabitats, than the traditional nature reserve approach. Networks of PMRs are now regarded as one of the most effective ways to conserve plant diversity, and LIFE has played an important role in funding their development, supporting a total of 10 projects on this topic.
24 September 2013The Biodiversity Foundation and the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water (RIEW) organised a cycling ‘challenge’ on 12 August 2013 to celebrate 33 years of the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve in Bulgaria. Team members from the LIFE Nature Salt of Life project (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000362) prepared a special game for participants and made commemorative cakes.
The Atanasovsko Lake Reserve is part of the Burgas Lakes complex along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. It is a very important site for breeding, migrating and overwintering birds. Of Bulgaria’s 446 bird species, 320 can be seen at the reserve. The lake is also one of Europe’s most important migrating and roosting sites, especially for pelicans, storks and several birds of prey. However, the lagoon habitat in Atanasovsko Lake is under threat as a result of a degraded connection with the sea, pollution and eutrophication.
The proposal centres round a list of invasive alien species of Union concern, which will be drawn up with the Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence. Selected species will be banned from the EU, meaning it will not be possible to import, buy, use, release or sell them. Special measures will be taken to deal with issues arising for traders, breeders or pet owners in the transitional period.
Three types of intervention are proposed: prevention; early warning and rapid response; and management of established invasive alien species of concern.
The Commission intends that the proposal will encourage a shift towards a harmonised and more preventive approach, increasing efficiency and lowering damage costs and the cost of action over time.
18 September 2013EU soil experts will join LIFE+ project beneficiaries on 24-25 September, for a special two-day platform meeting in Greece addressing environmental problems associated with soil. Some 30 participants, including representatives of 11 LIFE+ co-funded soil-related projects, are expected at this thematic seminar, organised by the Astrale Greece LIFE monitoring team, in cooperation with the SAGE10 project (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000302).
The meeting will take place at the Benaki Phytopathological Institute, Kifissia in Athens, Greece. It will be opened by Thomas Strassburger, Policy Officer of the Agriculture, Forest and Soil Unit of DG Environment, and will include presentations by Dr Stamatis Stamatiades of Goulandris Natural History Museum (Soil quality); Dr Costas Kosmas of the Agricultural University of Athens (Threats, gaps, and technical assessment); and Dr Theodoros Karyotis of the Institute for Soil Mapping and Classification (Strategies and policies for soil protection).
Also attending are: Astrale soil specialist, Riccardo Giandrini; and Jorge Blanco from the DG Agriculture European Innovation Partnership (EIP) “Service Point”, the task manager soil.
16 September 2013The Malta-Gozo Channel was confirmed on 30 August as Malta's first Marine Important Bird Area (IBA) in recognition of its international importance for two protected bird species: the Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and Scopoli's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea).
The 123 hectare channel, including the island of Comino, is also an important migration route for the ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca), another species listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive.
Two LIFE projects have played an important role in securing Marine IBA status for the channel. "Malta's first EU LIFE project, the Yelkouan Shearwater Project (2006-2010 - LIFE06 NAT/MT/000097), made the resources available to pursue the intensive studies required to collect the amount of rigorous scientific data needed for the true importance of the site to be assessed," said project beneficiary BirdLife Malta, in a press release.
"One of the aims of the European IBA designation is to help identify sites for inclusion in the EU's Natura 2000 Network of protected sites," said Ms Dora Querido, LIFE Project Officer at the RSPB, one of the international partners involved in the 2006 LIFE project. "Malta already has 13 terrestrial Special Protection Areas, all of which were first identified as IBAs. We hope that Malta will continue this best practice to nominate the Gozo Channel as its first Marine Special Protection Area," she added.
The Marine IBA designation follows the assessment of a proposal and data submitted by BirdLife Malta in 2011 against standard, internationally recognised criteria established by BirdLife International's IBA Progamme, a network of more than 10 000 sites considered as the minimum necessary to ensure the survival of the species concerned across their ranges.
09 September 2013A total of 19 companies recently joined the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST) of the Lands of Priolo, in the Azores, Portugal. The enterprises, which are connected with tourism, will be the first to use the ‘Priolo Brand’ that was established by two LIFE projects. The brand is a sign of quality for tourism operators in the Special Protected Area (SPA) of Pico da Vara.
The Natura 2000 network site is home to the only population of one of Europe’s rarest birds, the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) or ‘priolo’ as it’s known locally. These companies, together with entities that promote the Charter, will develop a set of nature conservation measures and work towards sustainable tourism in the area.
The Priolo Brand was established by the LIFE projects PRIOLO (LIFE03 NAT/P/000013) and Sustainable Laurel Forest (LIFE07 NAT/P/000630), both of which were led by SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) in partnership with the regional government of the Azores. Companies setting up partnerships with the Natural Park of São Miguel Island will be able to use this brand and enhance the environmental, economic and social benefits of these protected areas.
06 September 2013The call for proposals for financial support in 2014 under the current legal base (LIFE+) is now published, with a budget of EUR 9.000.000 and a deadline for applications of 15 October 2013.
For details and application documents, please see "How to apply". General and financial conditions are similar to previous years, except for certain updates to align with the revised EU Financial Regulation. The award criteria have been updated to align with the new EU Environmental Action Programme.
05 September 2013Wild lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni) have been spotted in a special adaptation aviary constructed by the Bulgarian LIFE Nature project, Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360). The sighting (via video surveillance) of the wild falcons, together with individuals ringed by the project, provides the first confirmation of the successful reunion of released birds in the wild population of the Balkans.
The project, which is being coordinated by Green Balkans, a federation of nature conservation non-governmental organisations, is aiming to increase and strengthen the breeding populations in Bulgaria. A key measure is the release, in cooperation with Spanish partner DEMA and German partner EURONATUR, of captive-bred birds in Bulgaria, where the bird numbers are extremely low. Some 90 chicks have already been released in the hope that more than a third will return to their original nesting site – the Sakar Natura 2000 SPA (special protection area for wild birds).
30 August 2013 Following a training workshop held by the LIFE+ project, The Return of the Neophron (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152) in the Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria (July 29-3 August), one of the participants, Ibrahim Hashim, President of the Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS) has confirmed that the Sudanese government is taking steps to insulate a power line in Port Sudan that is a major cause of vulture mortality. The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) population traditionally migrates along the western shores of the Red Sea and nests in Eastern Europe and Asia. More than 80 Egyptian vultures are reported to have been killed by the Port Sudan power line over a number of years. A joint expedition in 2010 by the LIFE project beneficiary, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and SWS confirmed that this power line has also led to the deaths of lappet-faced vultures, steppe eagles and a Bonelli's eagle, sadly the first recorded sighting of the species in Sudan. As a result of the expedition, the two conservation organisations produced a risk assessment, which has persuaded the local authorities to begin securing the power line.
21 August 2013 The LIFE+ project SEWeb (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182), which brings together information on Scotland's environment, is set to launch an important new resource for teachers for the autumn and winter terms of the upcoming school year. The website is preparing a 'Youth Discussion', which will consist of classroom discussions and debates, a Glow meet (Glow is Education Scotland's online community for Scottish schools), as well as a competition. Suggested areas of study, briefing materials and themes for the competition and Glow meet will be available shortly on Scotland's Environment Web.
The Youth Discussion follows several other recent developments on the website, including new core briefings on Public Engagement, Citizen Science and State of Environment Reporting.
12 August 2013 An article in the scientific journal Animal conservation [issue 16 (2013)] has highlighted the important role of a LIFE Nature Platform Meeting (thematic seminar) on Terrestrial Invertebrates that took place in Newquay, Cornwall, UK in June 2011.
The article, “Possible directions in the protection of the neglected invertebrate biodiversity”, by Manuela D’Amen et al, points out that whilst site-based conservation is widely recognised as a fundamental step in halting biodiversity loss at a global scale, terrestrial invertebrates have tended to be neglected in the reserve selection process. The authors therefore consider the 2011 LIFE Nature Terrestrial Invertebrates Platform Meeting as “a very important step… This conference introduced for the first time in the Nature 2000 framework a real opportunity for innovative projecting among beneficiaries and experts in terrestrial invertebrate conservation.”
07 August 2013 The LIFE project ‘IES – Irrigation Expert Simulator’ (LIFE11 ENV/E/000621), which is developing a web platform for training and supporting farmers in the development of their own irrigation schedules, has carried out its first irrigation validation field assessments.
The project installed flow meters at the beginning of the irrigation season, and technicians from the Watering Office of DAAM recently collected data from the 14 commercial plots that are collaborating with the project. These plots are located in seven irrigation communities with different crops and irrigation systems. Data will be analysed in order to validate IES, the watering simulation tool.
06 August 2013 Shoppers in Wiltshire, England unexpectedly came face to face – or nose to beak – with a protected species targeted by a local LIFE project. A disorientated young stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds and the target of an ongoing LIFE project, ‘Securing the stone-curlew’ (LIFE11 INF/UK/000418), recently was found wandering outside a supermarket in Devizes.
This shy bird is rarely spotted even in its normal downland habitat. Its camouflaged plumage and nocturnal habits make sightings very rare. The stray bird found in Devizes was taken to a veterinary clinic by a member of the public, who thought it was a young bird of prey. It was then passed to Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital at Newton Toney who cared for the bird.
31 July 2013The LIFE ‘Ecoedición’ project (LIFE08 ENV/E/0000124) has developed Product Category Rules (PCR) for printed books and e-books. The rules establish common and harmonised ways of calculating the environmental impacts of publications at a European level.
More specifically, PCR define the requirements for obtaining a type III eco-label or Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) according to ISO 14025. An EPD is a communication tool that provides relevant, verified and quantitative data on the environmental impacts of a publication throughout its lifecycle.
Such data enable clear comparisons of the environmental performance of publications to be made. The effect is to facilitate decision-making within green public procurement processes and to increase responsible consumption by consumers and readers. It also introduces the concept of ecodesign and fosters continuous improvement in publishing and printing houses.
30 July 2013In June 2013, LIFE professionals gathered in Budapest for the annual LIFE monitors meeting. As part of the three-day conference, participants visited a number of projects that have benefited from LIFE funding, including one of the most successful conservation initiatives in Hungary, the Hungarian Meadow Viper Programme.
The Hungarian Meadow Viper Programme was started in 2004 and has been funded by two successful LIFE projects so far (LIFE04 NAT/HU/000116, LIFE07 NAT/H/000322). In recognition of the quality of the work being done, the first project was recognised as a "Best of the Best" LIFE Nature project for 2007-2008. During the monitors meeting, participants also had the opportunity to visit the Hungarian Meadow Viper Conservation Centre. They enjoyed a guided tour of the new educational facilities and learnt all about the behaviour of the Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis).
29 July 2013Three Danish LIFE Nature projects have held an event to gather hay for inoculation of restored dry grasslands with characteristic plant species. The aim was to gather hay from high-value dry grasslands and inoculate two former agricultural areas with a view to accelerating their succession towards the protected habitat type 6210.
The three LIFE projects - TOTAL COVER HELNÆS (LIFE08 NAT/DK/000465), DRY GRASSLAND (LIFE08 NAT/DK/000464) and CONNECT HABITATS (LIFE09 NAT/DK/000371) - brought together Danish nature managers for a two-day event during which traditional techniques – involving the use of scythes - were employed to gather the hay. Professional scythe managers introduced this difficult technique, which enables the hay to be collected in a very gentle way. Scythes are increasingly being used in place of heavy machinery to secure the extensive management of vulnerable Danish habitat types.
18 July 2013The LIFE Gas-off project (LIFE09 ENV/IT/000214) recently completed trials on the use of feed additives to reduce the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in dairy cows.
The trials are part of an integrated evaluation of strategies to mitigate GHGs on dairy farms and were carried out on four groups of six Friesian cows. One of these groups acted as a control, while the others were fed with diets containing one of three different additives: Thymol, Guaiacol or Yeast. These additives had already been tested at the University of Milan and were shown to have potential in reducing enteric methanogenesis. The purpose of the trials, therefore, was to determine the effectiveness of the different diets. The project, which is being led by Azienda Sperimentale "Vittorio Tadini", a non-profit research and advisory organisation based in Piacenza, is also assessing the role of biogas production and the cultivation of biomass crops in reducing GHG emissions on farms. In particular, it is looking at techniques for optimizing biomass production and manure and effluent management in order to improve the performances of biogas plants and reduce environmental impacts.
05 July 2013VACCIA (Vulnerability Assessment of Ecosystem Services for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation) – a ‘Best of’ LIFE Environment project 2012’ – is continuing to have a wide-reaching impact. According to the project beneficiary, the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), less than two years after the awarded project officially closed, its results and objectives are already being used in national policy and an international ecological research network; and they have been incorporated into a national climate change guide, as well as new international research and development projects.
Moreover, the main results of the (2009-2011) project have been presented at several international conferences and published in a high-level scientific journal (Forsius et al. 2013).
03 July 2013The European Commission has approved funding for 248 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union's environment fund. The projects have been submitted by beneficiaries in 26 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across all 27 Member States. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €556.4 million, of which the EU will provide €281.4 million.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “The LIFE+ programme continues to provide vital financial support for innovative and replicable environmental and nature conservation projects with significant added value for the EU. These new projects will make a significant contribution to protecting, conserving and enhancing Europe’s natural capital and to improving the environment. And through practical actions and concrete examples, they will also support the goal of turning the EU into a resource efficient, greener and more competitive low-carbon economy.”
02 July 2013The latest LIFE Focus publication highlights the role of LIFE Nature funding in helping to conserve Europe's endangered large carnivores (brown bear, wolf, Eurasian lynx), by addressing actual and potential conflicts with people living in areas where these species are present.
The publication demonstrates the link between project outcomes and EU policy relating to large carnivore conservation and is designed to support the EU Action on Large Carnivores. As well as providing an overview of the LIFE programme's impact to date, it also draws conclusions about what has worked well and where there is room for improvement. With more than 75 featured projects, LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores provides numerous practical examples and lessons that can be drawn from the LIFE programme's work in this area.
01 July 2013The LIFE+ Nature project MIRDINEC (LIFE09 NAT/SE/000344) brought together more than 30 experts from across the EU, as well as Australia, New Zealand and the United States, for a final conference and Platform Meeting (thematic seminar) in Luleå, northern Sweden (June 16-18), on the hot topic of the management of Invasive Alien Predators (IAP). Several LIFE projects were represented at the event (see programme), which, after two days of presentations and fruitful discussions, led to the drafting of a 10-point proposal to the European Commission for the management of invasive alien species (IAS) - see the conference website for details.
In addition, delegates had the opportunity to visit sites where the MIRDINEC project, led by the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management ('Svenska Jägareförbundet') is working to prevent the spread of the raccoon-dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). A native of East Asia, large numbers of this invasive predator were released in western parts of the Soviet Union in the first half of the 20th Century, as a means of developing a fur industry around the species.
26 June 2013The LIFE Biodiversity project SOIL-Montana (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000579) aims to improve soil conditions and the biodiversity of mountain and valley grazing areas through, among other actions, the drawing up of a new assessment tool: the Agro-ecosystem Health Card. This card helps diagnose the health of the grazing ecosystems by providing for the first time reference values in terms of soil diversity.
The Agro-ecosystem Health Card, available for download from the project website, includes basic information about the importance of maintaining the health of ecosystems in grazing areas as well as indicators of their conservation status and instructions for measuring it.
24 June 2013The LIFE+ project LANDLIFE (LIFE10 INF/ES/000540) has successfully held workshops in three EU countries on the value of land stewardship as an effective and successful tool for nature conservation and biodiversity. The workshops specifically helped experts in policy and practice to share information and build practical know-how to apply land stewardship agreements and improve their management. The titles, locations and dates of the workshops were as follows:
17 June 2013The LIFE+ Information and Communication project RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032) has published a new guide to river restoration called Rivers by Design. The guide is aimed at planners, developers, architects and landscape architects and seeks to show them how to maximise the benefits of river restoration in development projects.
The guide explains the context and need for river restoration, illustrating how well-planned river restoration can increase ecological quality, reduce flood risk and create social and economic benefits. It explains to the target audience the crucial role they can play in delivering such projects to meet the needs of people and the environment.
14 June 2013The latest LIFE Focus publication highlights the relevance of LIFE Environment project actions in helping to create durable jobs and develop green skills across the EU. As its title suggests, LIFE creating green jobs and skills provides a host of practical examples of project actions that provide a blueprint for the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient economy, as well as illustrating the added social and economic value of the LIFE programme, the EU's financial instrument for the environment.
The publication highlights the policy agenda and challenges involved in greening the EU job market, and analyses the lessons that can be learned from more than 20 years of LIFE. The focus is on the main projects that have had an impact on durable job creation and green skills development, with 23 case studies from 11 Member States, divided into six thematic areas: waste; capacity building; business and industry; packaging; energy production and agriculture.
13 June 2013The introduction of anti-poisoning dog units on the Italian territory by the LIFE Nature project ANTIDOTO (LIFE07 NAT/IT/000436) is giving excellent results.
The project, coordinated by the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, is centred on an innovative methodology for preventing poisoning incidents: the use of small dog units able to detect poisoned food. Three anti-poisoning dog units, two in Italy and one in Aragona (Spain), were set-up with the help of the project partner from Andalusia, which had established similar units in 2004 and has good experience in this field.
The new dog units are regularly performing field inspections, as well as inspections upon request.
12 June 2013The best LIFE Environment and Nature projects of 2012 were honoured at an award ceremony during Green Week in Brussels last week. The future of LIFE was also addressed by Jutta Haug, MEP, who is leading the negotiations for the next LIFE programme period of 2014-2020.
An award ceremony on 5 June celebrated some of the best LIFE Environment and Nature projects of 2012. The awards, taking place for the ninth year, were presented by Jutta Haug, MEP and rapporteur for the new LIFE Regulation, and Hemmo Muntingh, retired MEP, who was described as the father of LIFE, having initiated the programme back in 1992.
Mr Muntingh regaled the audience with how the LIFE programme came into being and his role in the process, whilst Ms Haug focused on its future, saying she was glad to see in the award ceremony such “excellent and encouraging examples of an exceptionally successful EU programme”.
10 June 2013A LIFE project in Poland has found an unusual way of highlighting its nature conservation work: a CD of soundscapes recorded in Natura 2000 sites. Entitled Grassland Recordings, the disc has been compiled by Klub Przyrodników (“The Naturalists’ Club), the coordinating beneficiary of the XericGrasslandsPL project (LIFE08 NAT/PL/000513) and is available for free from the NGO’s head office in Świebodzin.
The CD contains a selection of sounds typical of Polish xerothermic grasslands, from grazing sheep to crickets to birdsongs, and is designed to appeal to everyone from grassland lovers to people who just want to relax on a winter’s evening.
07 June 2013The Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (“Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests” ICNF), Portuguese partner in the Spanish-led LIFE+ ‘Iberlince’ project (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570) has confirmed in a press release (Portuguese only) ) the sighting of an Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Vila Nova de Milfontes, in western Portugal. It is the first confirmed Iberian lynx sighting in Portugal for three years and is a hugely positive sign in the attempts to restore population numbers of the species, which is the most endangered feline in the world.
A movement-activated camera placed by the local hunting association to carry out wild boar surveying in the area of Milfontes first took a photo of a lynx in early May; however, it was not possible to identify the animal. Subsequently, a team from the ICNF increased surveillance of the area with support from the LIFE+ project partners in Andalusia. The lynx was photographed again in broad daylight on 26th May, allowing his identification as Hongo, a male born in Aznalcázar, Spain in 2011. He had last been seen in October 2012 more than 300 km away in Doñana National Park, Andalusia.
05 June 2013The CREAMAgua project (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431) held a celebratory event on April 26 to mark the end of its interventions to create and restore wetlands and riparian habitats of the Flumen river in Los Monegros, Spain. Its successful activities covered 509 ha of public land, which included the creation or restoration of 16 wetland areas and 70 ha of riparian habitat.
The President of the project beneficiary - the local authority of Los Monegros - Ildefonso Salillas was proud that the project “had turned Los Monegros into an international reference for the conservation of wetland zones.” This had been achieved through “the triple objective of improving the water quality in the Flumen river, increasing biodiversity and demonstrating how local authorities can develop strategies to protect their local environment.”
03 June 2013 A session at this year's Green Week in Brussels will be dedicated to highlighting “The contribution of the LIFE programme to air quality in the EU: past, present and future”.
Taking place at The Egg conference centre (Rue Bara) from 14:30 to 16:00 on Wednesday 5 June, the session will be moderated by Alexis Tsalas of the LIFE – Environment & Eco-innovation Unit, with presentations by Dr Georgia Valaoras, Regional Coordinator for South-East Europe, Astrale GEIE and Stijn Janssen, Environmental Modelling, VITO NV.
30 May 2013How can sustainable diets become the norm in Europe? The ‘LiveWell for LIFE’ project (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000173) has published a new report that addresses this question.
The report, ‘Adopting sustainable diets: opportunities and barriers’, which was developed with the Network of European Food Stakeholders, attempts to establish common ground for adopting sustainable diets in different European socio-economic contexts. To do this, it adopted the ‘triangle of change’ approach that emphasises the coordinated effort of people, businesses and government is necessary for achieving a more sustainable society. This approach recognises that all have a role to play, depending on what each is best able and best placed to deliver.
29 May 2013 An incubating pair of Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) can now be watched online thanks to a special camera introduced to their nest by the LIFE+ project Return of the Neophron (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152).
This is the only camera in the world in a wild nest of a globally threatened species. What is more, the incubating eggs are expected to hatch in early June, offering a wonderful experience for bird and nature lovers everywhere!
The camera was installed in a wild nest in northern Bulgaria by the LIFE+ project beneficiary, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. It enables live online monitoring from one of the few areas where Egyptian vultures still nest in Europe.
28 May 2013The Guidelines for Applicants Part 2 (application forms) has been updated for the application packages related to Environment Policy & Governance and to Information & Communication.
This update concerns the instructions regarding the use of eProposal, nothing else is changed. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Please go the funding pages to download the updated application packages
27 May 2013We are very pleased to announce that LIFE Focus publications are now available in flipbook format for viewing online on PCs, laptops, tablet devices and even smartphones.
Head to the publications pages to enjoy the three most recent LIFE Focus publications in flipbook format – wherever you are. And look out soon for the latest themes to be covered in the LIFE programme's journal - coexistence with large carnivores (Nature) and the impact of LIFE on job creation and the development of green skills (Environment).
24 May 2013 The ‘Ecoedición’ project (LIFE08 ENV/E/000124) has launched a ‘badbook’ campaign that aims to make readers, booksellers and publishers aware of the environmental impacts of publishing.
The campaign consists of six short films on separate aspects of the publishing process: choice of raw materials, design, energy consumption in the production phase, packaging and distribution. It will promote ways of reducing the environmental damage caused at each turn in the lifecycle of a book or printed publication.
21 May 2013Today, 21 May 2013, marks the very first Natura 2000 day. An initiative of the LIFE+ Information & Communication project, 'Conéctate a la Red Natura - Natura 2000: connecting people with biodiversity' (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665), the goal of what project beneficiary SEO / BirdLife hopes will become an annual Europe-wide celebration, is to promote the natural heritage of Spain represented by the network of Natura 2000 sites. The aim is to raise awareness of the issues concerning the preservation of these areas through the media and social networks as part of an overall LIFE project goal of improving awareness of the Natura 2000 network in Spain and contribute to the appreciation of its maintenance.
To this end, the beneficiary has invited all Europeans to take a picture of their hands in the shape of a butterfly and upload it to the project website or social media platforms as a sign of their commitment to the Natura 2000 network.
13 May 2013A black vulture (Aegypius monachus) has been spotted in the Eastern Balkan Mountains for the first time for more than 30 years. A photo-trap set up at the vulture supplementary feeding site in the area of the Sinite Kamani Nature Park captured a young black vulture in April, together with a group of foraging griffons. The pictured bird was released as part of the LIFE project, 'Vultures Return in Bulgaria' (LIFE08 NAT/BG/278).
The vulture probably originated from Serbia and was recorded along with several wild, non-tagged young and sub-adult griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus).
30 April 2013MME Birdlife Hungary, the beneficiary of the ongoing LIFE Nature ‘HELICON’ project (LIFE10 NAT/HU/000019), took part in an event in Hungary in February that revealed the scale of the problem of illegal raptor deaths in the country.
More than 100 professionals from Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and the UK attended the annual meeting of the Raptor Committee of Birdlife Hungary, which followed the 8th Hungarian Conservation-Biology Meeting (co-organised by MME with the Hungarian Biological Society, Bükk National Park Directorate and the European section of the Society for Conservation Biology).
24 April 2013 'SAMBAH' (Static Acoustic Monitoring of the Baltic Sea Harbour Porpoise – LIFE08 NAT/S/000261) is a five-year LIFE Nature project that targets the conservation of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) within the Baltic Sea region.
Led by Kolmardens Djurpark (Kolmarden Wildlife Park) in Sweden, this international project has revealed initial results from two years of monitoring using 300 passive acoustic porpoise click loggers (CPODs) at a meeting with marine stakeholders and sea-management authorities from the countries around the Baltic that was held in Gothenburg on 15 April.
22 April 2013The European Commission's LIFE Nature Unit will be holding a platform meeting (thematic seminar) on nature conservation and agriculture in wet alluvial grasslands at the Éthic étapes Lac de Maine in Angers, France on 16-17 May, 2013.
The general objective of the event, which will be hosted by Ligue de la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), is to exchange experience around the combination of nature conservation and farming practices. This will include discussion of such issues as: how to involve local farmers in nature conservation; greening the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); management agreements with farmers on purchased land; and ensuring compatibility between pasture and the needs of ground-nesting birds.
19 April 2013The Natura 2000 newsletter was launched in 1996 and is now in its 33rd edition. To ensure that it continues to meet expectations, DG Environment has commissioned an online reader survey, which will remain open end of June 2013.
To have your say on the future of the newsletter - how useful is it to you, what would you like to see more or less of, do you prefer to read it on paper or online? – please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N2000newslettersurvey
18 April 2013A popular Bulgarian TV comedy show recently broadcast an episode where the main characters discuss the benefits of eating Griffon vulture eggs for potency, while scheming to steal the eggs of the rare birds! Although meant to be amusing, the episode was viewed with alarm by the team coordinating the LIFE ‘Vultures Return’ project (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278), which is working to recover the populations of endangered vulture species in the country.
The LIFE team reacted immediately, disseminating a witty press-release challenging the show’s script-writers and warning viewers of the potential threat to human health of consuming vulture eggs.
17 April 2013Connie Hedegaard, Climate Commissioner, paid tribute to the Danish LIFE project, ‘Carbon 20’ (LIFE09 ENV/DK/000366), at the recent ‘Allerødmessen’ climate fair. Two of the companies engaged in the project have been recognised for their efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions.
Projects such as ‘Carbon 20’ are central to efforts to reduce our climate impact, according to the Commissioner.
“This is what it is about. I can try to make laws in the EU to change things, but these laws are not worth anything if they do not lead to changes. Therefore it is wonderful to see that there are people making actual changes through the Carbon 20 project,” she said.
The awards event on 22 February was part of the on-going LIFE project’s campaign to encourage at least 100 companies to reduce their CO2 emissions by 20%.
16 April 2013The Greek LIFE+ Environment wastewater treatment project SOL-BRINE (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000299) is holding its final conference from 19 to 21 September, on the island of Tinos, located in the Cyclades archipelago.
The international conference, 'Water Is Necessary for Life - WIN4Life' is open to all interested parties, providing participants with the opportunity to exchange views and ideas about water management, advanced wastewater treatment processes and sustainable brine management practices.
The event will include oral and poster presentation sessions. Authors wishing to submit a paper should send an abstract to the Scientific Secretariat, Dr. K. Moustakas (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 15 May 2013.
05 April 2013Over 80 participants gathered in Brasov, Romania recently to learn more about developing communication skills to increase management capacity and support for Natura 2000 sites in the country. The event, “Efficient managers for Efficient Natura 2000 Network” was organised in the framework of the ongoing LIFE+ Information & Communication project, EME Natura 2000 (LIFE11 INF/RO/000819).
The seminar, held on 4-5 March 2013, was organised by the project beneficiary, ProPark – the national foundation for protected areas, together with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Europarc federation and the Brasov agency for sustainable development.
05 April 2013 The winners of the 2012 ‘Best of the Best’ and ‘Best’ LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment projects have been selected and will be presented at a combined awards ceremony to be held during Green Week in Brussels, the theme of which is Air Quality.
The winning projects will be acknowledged at a special event on 5 June from 6.30-9.30 pm in The Egg Conference Centre, rue Bara 173-177, B-1070 Brussels. Winning projects who wish attend the ceremony must register for Green Week and also contact Paula.Lopez-Paredes@ec.europa.eu for further information.
03 April 2013The LIFE Environment project, ‘ETA-BETA’ (LIFE09 ENV/IT/000105) has announced its final results.
Since September 2010, the project has been promoting the development of Eco-managed Industrial and Business Estates (EIBEs) and ecologically equipped productive areas (EEPAs) as local governance and policy tools for implementing the EU’s Environmental Technology Action Plan
The ETA-BETA approach offers an organisational model for the management of EIBEs, which consists of a set of operational instruments for area managers and for individual SMEs for implementing the European Commission’s Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP) at local level.
27 March 2013The ‘LIFE+Ecoedición’ project (LIFE08 ENV/E/000124) has launched a Green Publishing Membership Campaign. The aim of this campaign is to provide technical support, training and specialised consulting services to help public bodies and private companies with the practical application of green publishing criteria using the project’s “Sustainability Assessment of Publications” software. This offers a simplified approach designed to enable participants to produce greener publications without costly, time consuming investment.
During the campaign participants will learn how they can achieve a good position within the European market and how to anticipate environmental requirements in public contracts and tenders. They will also make new contacts and learn from others. The project will promote participants’ achievements and show their commitment to sustainable development and responsible consumption and purchasing.
26 March 2013On 13 March, the LIFE Nature ‘Salt of Life’ project (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000362) began scheduled bypass channel cleaning in Atanasovsko Lake, Bulgaria. During the six-year long project the entire length of the channel will be cleaned using a new dragline excavator, which was purchased partially with funds from the EU’s LIFE Programme.
The work on the bypass channel is a key action of a project whose main aim is to establish a functional, efficient and sustainable infrastructure for water management and the control of the coastal lagoon in Atanasovsko Lake. This will create long-term improvements to habitat conditions and enable adaptation to the effects of climate change. The project partners are the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation (beneficiary), the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Black Sea Salinas Ltd.
21 March 2013The Polish ‘AQC Plan’ project (LIFE08 NAT/PL/000511) has taken part in an international seminar on the conservation of the greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga) and other birds of prey in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica. The event, which took place on 12 March, was organised by the National Parks of Montenegro and gave the project beneficiaries Polish Birds, Eagle Conservation Committee and Biebrza National Park the opportunity not only to talk about its LIFE co-funded work in the Biebrza Valley, but also to promote the importance of eagle conservation to wider Montenegrin society. The importance of the latter is indicated by the shooting in December 2012, of Bruzda, a male greater spotted eagle that was being tracked by radio transmitter by the project team as it flew south on its winter migration route. Bruzda died after being shot within the bounds of Skadar Lake National Park in Montenegro, an incident that has aroused much controversy and media attention.
13 March 2013“Crafted by time”, by Vangelis Efthymiou, is a documentary about the Prespa Lakes that will be shown at the15th Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival – Images of the 21st Century this month. The film was produced as part of the LIFE Information and Communication project “PROM.SUS.FIS.PR.PRESPA” (LIFE09 INF/GR/000319) , which aims to inform the public and raise awareness about issues connected with the rare fish species and fisheries of Prespa.
The film takes a look at the magical world of the Prespa Lakes. Its protagonists are the 23 unique fish species found in Prespa. These fish are highly important to the area’s natural wealth and one of the main reasons why Prespa is considered to be one of the ten most important wetlands in the Mediterranean. The film also talks to local fishermen about their traditional customs and practices, old stories about the lake and the problems they face today.
12 March 2013From 1 February to 31 May both amateur and professional nature photographers are invited to take part in the photo competition “Oroklini Lake all through the year”. The competition aims to promote the Oroklini wetland in Cyprus and its importance for biodiversity. The photographer of the best picture will be awarded 1 000 euros prize money. Later in the year an exhibition and an album containing selected photos from the competition will be created.
The competition has been organised by the Voroklini Community Council as part of the LIFE ‘OROKLINI’ project (LIFE10 NAT/CY/000716), which began in 2012. Its main objectives are to restore and manage Oroklini Lake and to conserve its important bird species.
08 March 2013The first results of the LIFE project AgriClimateChange (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000441) have shown how agriculture can reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by nearly half in some cases. This important project is not just showing farmers what can be done to respond to climate change, but adding new information to political debate around reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
The AgriClimateChange project – through partners in Spain, France, Italy and Germany – has developed and tested a tool to assess the energy consumption, GHG emissions and carbon storage potential of farm plots using up to 60 parameters.
21 February 2013The regional government of Andalusia has honoured the LIFE 'Agricarbon' project – 'Sustainable Agriculture in Carbon Arithmetics' (LIFE08 ENV/E/000129) with its Environment Award for 2012. The award recognises the project's great contribution to the fight against climate change.
The 'Agricarbon' project is encouraging the establishment of sustainable agricultural techniques, such as conservation agriculture and precision farming, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fostering climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector.
Agricarbon has shown that by adopting conservation agriculture and precision farming, Spain could significantly reduce it energy consumption and thus its carbon emissions.
20 February 2013The final workshop organised by the LIFE project GREENLYSIS (LIFE08 ENV/E/000118), which was recently held at the Cetaqua Water Technology Centre in Cornellà de Llobregat, Barcelona, attracted more than 40 people.
The workshop was an opportunity for the project team leaders to present the results of the project and share their experience of reducing the environmental impact of a wastewater treatment plant.
The GREENLYSIS project aimed to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis powered by renewable energies. It demonstrated that the released oxygen can be pressurised and used to purify the waste stream, while the hydrogen can be collected and used to power the treatment plant.
19 February 2013The seventh LIFE+ call for proposals was published on 19 February, 2013, with up to €278 million available for co-financing of projects under three headings: Nature and Biodiversity (NAT); Environment Policy and Governance (ENV); and Information and Communication (INF).
Project proposals should be submitted to the relevant national authority using the eProposal tool no later than 16:00 hours (Brussels time) on 25 June, 2013. Member States will forward proposals to the European Commission by 5 July, 2013. The earliest possible starting date for 2013 projects is 1 June, 2014.
Please note that applicants may only use the eProposal tool to create and submit proposal(s) under the 2013 LIFE+ Call for Proposals.
14 February 2013In January 2013, Italy’s Ministers of the Environment, Agriculture and Economic Development signed a decree forbidding the trading, raising and keeping of the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), an invasive alien species introduced to the country some 60 years ago.
This inter-ministerial decree is one of the first important results of ‘EC-SQUARE’ (LIFE09 NAT/IT/000095), a LIFE Nature project targeting the conservation of Europe’s only native tree squirrel, the red squirrel (Scirius vulgaris) in parts of northern Italy.
The red squirrel populations of Piedmont, Lombardy and LIguria are in decline as a consequence of the presence of the larger American grey squirrel, which outcompetes them for food.
28 JanuaryA LIFE Information & Communication project has outlined the initial results of its efforts to promote recycling among the French public. The ‘Collect +’ initiative (LIFE11 INF/FR/000730) presented the results of its first phase of actions during a telephone seminar on 23 January that was organised by the project partners.
Led by the Casino Group retail chain, ‘Collect +’ instigated a publicity drive last November to encourage supermarket shoppers to sort and recycle household waste items. New collection facilities were installed in-store, backed by a major publicity campaign to raise public awareness and training for staff to enable them to support the project.
21 JanuaryEurope’s Natura 2000 network of protected sites provides benefits estimated to be worth as much as €300 billion each year. Spain hosts many of the EU’s biodiversity hotspots and a new LIFE Information & Communication project - Conéctate a la Red Natura’ (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665) - is proactively promoting the value of the Natura 2000 network in Spain. The goal of this ambitious project is to help everyone in Spain to better understand, appreciate, enjoy and ultimately support the Natura 2000 network.
The project was launched earlier this month (January 2013) by high profile figures including Mr Arias Cañete, Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment. The initiative, which will receive €1.075 million of co-funding from LIFE, out of a total budget of €2.15 million, has a busy programme of awareness-raising activities running until March 2017.
18 January 2013 The monthly LIFE+ newsletter ‘LIFEnews’ carried feature articles on a range of important and emerging topics of European environmental and nature interest. Here we look at which subjects captured the most interest of our readers last year. We present the five most-read feature articles of 2012!
In fifth place is the March 2012 article detailing LIFE’s efforts at the forefront of expanding the Natura 2000 network into the marine environment. LIFE projects have been increasing understanding of marine ecosystems and often making surprising discoveries. LIFE improves Natura knowhow for managing marine ecosystems
The fourth most-read article is also from the March 2012 newsletter on marine environments. This feature explains how LIFE is contributing to the development of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, which is recommended policy at European level. LIFE supports integrated management approaches for Europe’s coastal zones
21 December 2012Over 80 participants attended the final conference of the LIFE Environment project, ‘COSMOS’ (LIFE08 ENV/IT/000434), which took place in Brescia (Italy) 14 December 2012. The conference provided an opportunity to present the results of the project to both a technical audience and the general public, including physical demonstrations of prototype products developed by project partners.
The aim of the project was to demonstrate the industrial applicability of a technological process for the inertisation of fly ash, using a silica colloidal medium, developed at the University of Brescia (Italy). The project's industrial partners constructed a prototype system to produce suitable amounts of the resulting COSMOS filler, and to demonstrate its potential for commercial use, a number of demonstration products were developed. These included a project to manufacture designer jewellery, which was first showcased at the Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle (France) in 2010.
20 December 2012The LIFE Environment ‘CARBONTOUR’ project (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000297) held its final conference in Athens 10 December, 2012 on the promotion of sustainability and energy efficiency in the tourism sector.
The conference at the Divani Caravel Hotel brought together hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, scientists, engineers and professionals from the private sector, government departments, municipalities, research bodies and educational institutions to exchange new ideas, techniques and experiences in all areas of sustainable tourism.
11 December 2012The Fédération des Entreprises de Propreté et Services Associés (FEP), the beneficiary of the French LIFE project, ‘CISDP - Cleaning Industry Sustainable Development Programme’ (LIFE08 ENV/F/000481), has won first prize in the category of ‘Management and Initiatives for Sustainable Development’ at the Prix Entreprises et Environnement.
FEP, the French Federation of Cleaning Industries, won the award for its project to reduce water consumption, pollution and waste, as well as to improve the recycling of waste. The award, which was established in 1987, is organised by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (MEDDE) with the support of ADEME's OREE, Credit Cooperative, Les Echos and Environment Magazine. It rewards companies or group of companies with a record of outstanding achievements in the fields of environment and sustainable development.
10 December 2012The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) has enjoyed its biggest ever year. The week, which was first launched in 2009 by the LIFE project ‘EWWR’ (LIFE07 INF/F/000185), saw 10 793 separate actions organised across 25 European and two non-European countries, 17-25 November 2012. To find details of activities in your area, visit the EWWR Database.
The LIFE project launched the EWWR to promote reductions in the amount of municipal waste in Europe through awareness-raising and waste reduction activities with local populations, authorities, schools and businesses. The number of actions organised each year keeps increasing. There was more than four times the number of activities in 2012 than during the first EWWR and 2012 saw half as many actions again as 2011.
07 December 2012 The French LIFE project 'R-URBAN' (LIFE10 ENV/FR/000215) has won the Zumtobel Foundation Award, – category ‘Research & Initiative’.
This prize, which is awarded every two years, recognises sustainable initiatives in the fields of architecture and engineering that are making a valuable contribution to citizens’ quality of life.
The LIFE project is demonstrating that networks of active citizens and associations can initiate locally closed ecological cycles that will support the emergence of alternative models of living, production and consumption between the urban and the rural areas.
05 December 2012European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik has paid a visit to the Parque Natural de la Abufera ("Albufera Nature Reserve") in Valencia, Spain. He was accompanied on the 06 November visit to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre of El Saler and Natura 2000 site "Tancat de la Pipa" by the Mayor of Valencia, Rita Barbera, and Spain's Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Miguel Arias.
Valencia is seeking EU support for its bid to have the Albufera Nature Reserve become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Commissioner indicated that he would be "willing to support any initiative to achieve greater protection, although that is a decision that depends on all Member States." He also highlighted the fact that the reserve is already protected by Europe as part of the Natura 2000 network. He encouraged Valencia to propose more LIFE projects under the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020.
21 November 2012 A photo of jewellery that was produced from recycled waste by the LIFE project ‘COSMOS’ (LIFE08 ENV/IT/000434) has won first prize in the ‘Energy and Natural Resources’ category in a picture competition organised by the European Projects Association (EPA).
The photo finished second in the competition overall, receiving more than 500 votes and a ‘special mention’ from the organisers.
The EPA aims to improve participation in EU-funded projects by providing necessary information, networking, services and tools. In collaboration with the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Academy for Education and Social Research, it is holding an annual competition to highlight the role that European projects are playing in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
20 November 2012 A workshop was recently held in Brussels to discuss how LIFE is establishing 'prioritised action frameworks' (PAFs)– frameworks that set out the priorities for nature conservation for Member States, identify required management measures and outline necessary actions for the next funding period, 2014-2020. The kick-off workshop focused on common issues for all PAFs, opportunities for the exchange of knowledge among them and common reporting requirements.
The process of defining PAFs was initiated in 2011 when the LIFE Nature-Unit opened a call for proposals. Eight were selected in the first round of funding.
16 November 2012 The PRO KLIMA (LIFE09 INF/DE/000012) LIFE project focusing on mobile air-conditioning systems (MAC systems) recently created an animated short film, ‘Cool down but be smart’.
The film addresses the environmental problems related to the additional consumption of fuel due to the use of the MAC system, and offers drivers recommendations on how and when they should use their MAC system. Available in German and English, the film also warns of the negative environmental impact of the refrigerant R134a.
13 November 2012 The small town of Rivignano in northeast Italy has been awarded the ‘Albanella d’Oro’ (Golden Circus) by the regional divison of WWF for the its implementation of a forested wetland recovery LIFE project, ‘S.T.A.R. – Stella Alnus Recovery’ (LIFE07 NAT/IT/000498).
The award is given to public bodies, associations, private firms and citizens who carry out effective initiatives that safeguard biodiversity and the environment. The municipality of Rivignano was the beneficiary of a project that aimed to conserve the priority habitat 91E0: Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae). The project has targeted more than 30 hectares of wet woodlands along the river Stella in the heart of an area threatened by intensive agricultural exploitation.
05 November 2012 Research conducted as part of a LIFE project has recently proved that the endangered weatherfish (Misgurnus fossilis) is not extinct in Denmark. In recent decades, populations of the fish species have declined sharply and only one now remains in the moor area of Sølsted Mose. The fish, however, hadn’t been reported since 2008 and was feared extinct.
Nevertheless, the LIFE project to restore the raised bog in Sølsted Mose (LIFE10 NAT/DK/000099) needed to take into consideration the possible presence of the weatherfish and the beneficiary, the municipality of Tønder, initiated a survey of the moor area.
31 October 2012 The LIFE project, ‘Malta Seabird’ (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090), has tracked the storm petrel for the first time in Europe. The bird species was tracked using radio-tracking technology – a method that is extremely difficult for this species owing to its small size and the vast areas it can cover.
Researchers from the project beneficiary, BirdLife Malta, attached radio tags to 34 storm petrel adults last July. They then carried out 30 flights with a Cessna aircraft equipped with special antennae, covering more than 8 000 nautical miles over the sea. In addition to the aerial surveys, researchers used antennae on a boat and on land to monitor signals from the tagged birds.
30 October 2012 A new study from the LIFE Monitoring Team - led by the Astrale Consortium - provides a detailed analysis of the contribution made by LIFE Environment & Governance and LIFE Information & Communication projects to the implementation, dissemination and further development of EU noise and air policies and legislation, focusing in particular on resource efficiency.
As with other thematic LIFE studies, such as for the water sector, the main aim of this 176-page report is to supply useful information on the results of LIFE projects to Thematic Units, and consequently strengthen the link between the LIFE Unit in charge of the management of operational projects and Thematic Units dealing mainly with environmental policy.
The report assesses relevant LIFE projects from the period 2005-2010 in the field of environmental noise (28 projects) and air pollution (94 projects). An in-depth analysis of a selection of projects from each policy area is included in the study.
25 October 2012 The Bulgarian LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity project 'The Return of the Neophron' (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152) has issued a fascinating bulletin about the migration routes of nine Egyptian vultures that it tagged with satellite transmitters in Bulgaria and Greece during the summer of 2012. You can read more about the adventures of Arda, Dobri, Ikaros, Ilyaz, Lazaros, Lefkipos, Odysseus, Svetlina and Volen here.
Monitoring of juvenile and adult vultures using satellite transmitters is expected to increase knowledge of the migration routes and wintering areas of the Balkan breeding population of the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) as part of the LIFE project's overall goal of improving the conservation status of the species in Greece and Bulgaria.
23 October 2012 The 'LiveWell for LIFE' project (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000173) is to launch LiveWell Plates for France, Spain and Sweden this autumn, as part of its programme to demonstrate country-specific sustainable diets across the EU.
The LiveWell Plate is a tool that defines what healthy and sustainable diets could look like for different European countries.
The LiveWell for LIFE project contributes towards greater understanding of the linkages between unsustainable food consumption, GHG emissions, and climate change. The main goal of the project is to produce policy guidelines and practical pathways to help transition Europe to a more sustainable diet, whilst reducing the environmental impact caused along the entire EU food supply chain, such as greenhouse gas emissions. The project beneficiary and partner are, respectively, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of Europe.
22 October 2012 More than 50 people attended a final workshop for the LIFE + water project 'ENSAT - Enhancement of Soil Aquifer Treatment' (LIFE08 ENV/E/000117) on 28 September 2012 in Can Serra, Spain. Here they witnessed the results of two years of work on a pilot project to improve groundwater through a technique known as Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) in the Barcelona area's main water reservoir. Water professionals, experts and stakeholders met to discuss the results of exploring this alternative method of storing water in order to cope with seasonal fluctuations, overexploitation or saltwater intrusion. The project actions also focused on removing pollutants through the use of reactive organic substrate layers; so-called Soil Aquifer Treatment (SAT) in infiltration ponds at the project's test site in the Llobregat river delta south-west of the Catalonian capitol.
19 October 2012 Members of the Spanish Life + Environmental Policy and Governance project, 'Water Change' (LIFE07 ENV/E/000845) have led a workshop on planning and adapting to changes in the availability of water resources that was attended by 13 employees of the Agbar group, a global specialist in water management. The eight-hour master class, held on 01 October 2012, centred on the tools developed through the now finished 'Water Change' project to assess the impact on water resources stemming from climate change, more extreme weather, and changes in land use and water demand, collectively described as Global Change.
18 October 2012 The LIFE Monitoring Team, which is led by the Astrale Consortium, has published a comprehensive 171-page analysis of the LIFE programme's contribution to the implementation, dissemination and further development of EU environmental policies and legislation in the water sector.
For its Water Sector Report, the Astrale team reviewed some 150 water-related projects that have been funded during the last six years, including projects from all strands of the LIFE programme - ENV/NAT/INF. Thirty-three projects were subjected to a detailed assessment (SWOT analysis).
All projects were analysed in terms of the water directives to which they are related in order to gain some understanding of the proportion of projects contributing to each directive; a subsequent gap analysis revealed those legislative areas which are not well served by LIFE projects.
15 October 2012The eighth Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences (SEFS) will take place in Münster, Germany from 01-05 July 2013.
The event aims to integrate recent insights from ecological and evolutionary perspectives into improved knowledge of the diversity, dynamics, and functioning of freshwater ecosystems.
The Symposium will provide a cross-disciplinary platform for discussion of research ranging from the level of genes and cells to ecosystems and landscapes.
08 October 2012A meadow trail was recently officially opened at Rastatter Rheinauen, a beautiful 850 ha nature reserve in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The trial was built as part of the LIFE project, "Rheinauen bei Rastatt - Rhine wetlands near Rastatt’ (LIFE09 NAT/DE/000004), which is aiming to improve the wetland ecosystems along a substantial stretch of the river Rhine.
The trail was opened by Nicolette Kressl, regional government president, and Hans Jürgen Pütsch, the mayor of Rastatt. Herr Kressl said: "The meadow trail at Schafköpfel in Rastatt floodplains is primarily intended for the citizens of the area. We want to bring them closer to the natural resources of their home."
05 October 2012The LIFE project MoorLIFE (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202) has been airlifting 150 million gel beads containing Sphagnum moss onto nearly 1 000 ha of moorlands in northern England. Matt Buckler, conservation works manager for the Moors for the Future Partnership described the action as “probably the most important landscape-scale delivery phase of works ever in UK moorland restoration.”
This pioneering work has involved Sphagnum gel beads being airlifted by helicopter in five-litre tubs and spread by hand by staff, volunteers, rangers and a contractor across 980 ha of Peak District and South Pennine moors. Each bead is the size of a fingernail and contains several small strands of moss grown in a laboratory from a small sample of local source Sphagnum. The beads are designed to provide initial sustenance and protection and help embed the moss on the moor.
02 October 2012The value of the LIFE programme was highlighted at a recent event in Southern England, UK, that provided an opportunity to share experience of cross-border working.
On 14 September, Southern England Local Partners, the EU Affairs network for Southern England (www.selp.org.uk), held its annual European Congress at the Centre for European and International Studies Research at the University of Portsmouth. The event brought together over 50 representatives from local authorities, universities and business intermediaries such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), all interested in enhancing understanding of the European dimension of their work.
01 October 2012The "Lands of Priolo", a territory within the Azores, has been granted the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas by the EUROPARC Federation Council. The application for the Charter was made by the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Sea, within the context of the Portuguese LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity project, 'LAURISSILVA SUSTENTAVEL' ('Sustainable Laurel Forest" - LIFE07 NAT/P/000630).
Lands of Priolo is the name given to the territory in which the Azores Bullfinch, or, Priolo (Pyrrhula murina), an endemic and very rare bird, occurs. Located in the eastern part of the island of São Miguel, Azores, this territory includes the municipalities of Nordeste and Povoação, as well as a large protected area. These two municipalities have been relatively isolated from the rest of the island and this fact has allowed them to preserve their natural patrimony, culture and traditions. In addition to the Priolo, the area contains the most important remaining laurel forests and a large expanse of peatlands, as well as waterfalls, high sea cliffs and the volcano crater lagoon, Furnas Lake.
28 September 2012The LIFE RESTORE project (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032) is calling on all river restoration practitioners to share their experiences through a new interactive resource: River Wiki. The project has launched this innovative Internet tool to enable better and faster development and transfer of good river restoration practice.
The wiki enables users to search and comment on a database of river restoration activities from across Europe. Practitioners can add their own projects to the database whether they are completed, underway or still at the planning stage. The aim is to facilitate the identification and transfer of best practice in river restoration as well as enabling people to learn from each other’s mistakes.
25 September 2012 Area-based approaches to nature conservation often require joined-up activity by different landowners. Coordinating such consistent approaches to nature conservation across a habitat's territory can help to tackle fragmentation challenges. Various synergies are also possible from the economies of scale that emerge during collective approaches to land management.
Many farmers and foresters are already accustomed to working together in groups such as machinery rings and product supply-chains. This experience can be harnessed to encourage landowners to combine forces within a nature conservation action, and Denmark's successful LIFE REGAIN project (LIFE04 NAT/DK/000022) has demonstrated the beneficial results that this type of collaboration can achieve.
25 September 2012On 27-28 June 2012, representatives of the PROVIDUNE (LIFE07 NAT/IT/000519) and JUNICOAST (LIFE07 NAT/GR/000296) projects held a networking meeting in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy) to share methodologies and exchange know-how, best practices and experiences. Both LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity co-funded projects aim to protect priority habitats consisting of coastal dunes with Juniperus ssp. - one of the most endangered habitats in the EU.
The event follows on from earlier coastal dune networking actions carried out by each project individually.
24 September 2012The inaugural European Land Stewardship Week will take place from 28 September to 07 October 2012. The 'LANDLIFEWEEK' event is an initiative of the Spanish LIFE Information & Communication project, 'LANDLIFE' (LIFE10 INF/ES/000540), whose overarching goal is to boost land stewardship as a tool for nature and biodiversity conservation (particularly in the Western Mediterranean Arch), by communicating its value to the general public, institutions, land planners and specific stakeholders.
12 September 2012The Regional Authority of Tuscany has reported continuing excellent long-term results from the LIFE Nature project ‘Capraia/Toscana’ (LIFE97 NAT/IT/004153), which finished more than 10 years ago. The project eradicated invasive rat populations from the small islands of the Tuscan archipelago. These interventions have proved to be a cost-effective means of improving conditions for ground-nesting birds, reptiles and terrestrial molluscs with only a limited need for ongoing monitoring and control.
10 September 2012 The LIFE+ Slovenian WEEE campaign project (LIFE10 INF/SI/000139) sent its special ‘E-transformer’ vehicle on a two-month promotional tour of some of the country’s main shopping centres this summer, to raise awareness of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling.
E-transformer (actually a mobile, solar-powered multimedia trailer) is a main tool of the LIFE+ Information and Communication project, run by the project beneficiary ZEOS, a non-profit NGO partnership for the management of WEEE in Slovenia. Its mission is to increase awareness, especially among families with younger children, of the proper handling, treatment and recovery of WEEE. According to project manager, Emil Sehic, the response so far, has been “very positive”.
05 September 2012A group of international journalists recently completed a 1 500 km trip through the Alps to highlight the LIFE project sites found in the mountainous region. Their journey – the sixth SuperAlp! organised by the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention – passed through Slovenia, Austria, Italy and on to France, where it finished in the city of Grenoble.
This year's seven-day trip (04-11 July) formed part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Habitats Directive and the LIFE Programme. By completing the journey by train, bus, bicycle and foot, the SuperAlp! initiative is showing that it is possible to get about in the Alps using only public transport.
04 September 2012 The Annual Compilation of new LIFE projects has been published. A total of 202 projects submitted under the LIFE+ 2011 Call for Proposals have been approved for co-funding, representing a total investment of €516.5 million, of which the EU will provide some €268.4 million.
The projects come from 25 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, environmental policy, climate change and information and communication on environmental issues.
Full details are available in the respective Annual Compilations which can be downloaded from the LIFE website
30 August 2012 The LIFE+ project, ‘Save the Raptors’ (LIFE07 NAT/BG/000068), which was carried out by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, has recently launched a video on the Eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) and the communication of its conservation needs through contemporary art.
A giant 20 m graffiti artwork was created recently on the front wall of a public school at the very heart of Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, as part of a charitable initiative featuring four graffiti artists. The impressive mural tells the story of the globally endangered eagle species. Only 23 pairs of this majestic bird remain, and these are found in remote regions of Sakar and West Strandja in southeast Bulgaria.
06 August 2012 The LIFE+ Nature project 'Vultures Return in Bulgaria' (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278) has successfully reached the highway point, and the project beneficiary, the nature conservation NGO Green Balkans, has marked the occasion by publishing some charming reports about the adventures of its three returning birds: Bulgarka the traveller, Liubka the inquisitive and Freeda the free-flyer.
Here you can read the latest news about the three griffon vultures, which were bred in Spain and released into the wild in Bulgaria last year.
27 July 2012Habitat restoration is reducing the severe threat posed to the endangered population of bittern in Bavaria, Germany. A LIFE project, 'The promotion of bitterns in pond areas of Bavaria'(LIFE97 NAT/D/004222) , which ended in 2001, is being followed up by a new initiative co-funded by the Allianz Environmental Foundation (Allianz Umweltstiftung) and National League for Bird Protection (Landesbund für Vogelschutz).
Only a few pairs of the great bittern (Botaurus stellaris) are now found in southern Germany, but thanks to the restoration efforts of recent years
20 July 2012The European Commission has approved funding for 202 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union's environment fund. The projects are from 25 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, environmental policy, climate change and information and communication on environmental issues. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €516.5 million, of which the EU will provide €268.4 million.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "In this 20th anniversary year of the founding of LIFE and of the Habitats Directive, I'm delighted to announce the continuing financial support for high quality environmental projects across the EU. These latest LIFE+ projects continue a trend, started more than two decades ago, for innovative and best-practice actions furthering nature conservation, improving the environment and tackling climate change".
17 July 2012Representatives of the Italian National Focal Point – NFP (Ministry of Environment), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the LIFE Unit met in Rome recently, for a national workshop highlighting the importance of the LIFE programme in Italy over the past 20 years; and discussing the links between LIFE+ and the National Rural Development Network.
Organised as part of the EU-wide ‘LIFE 20th anniversary’ events, the workshop, held in Rome on 28 June, included the presentation of a new study, “LIFE+ e la Rete Rurale Nazionale” (LIFE+ and the national rural development network) highlighting the importance of LIFE co-funded projects in promoting the rural development network and of guaranteeing the transferability of their results.
Opening the workshop, Mariano Grillo, Director General for Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Energy (Ministry of Environment) said the study also showed some interesting synergies with agricultural policies.
06 July 2012The LIFE project Indemares (LIFE07 NAT/E/000732) has made the exciting discovery of a previously unknown species of deep-sea squat lobster in the Atlantic Ocean off the Spanish Galician coast. The find of this new species highlights the secrets that Europe’s oceans still hold and the value of improved investigation and understanding of marine ecosystems.
The species was found at more than 1 400 metres depth on the Galicia Bank – an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean facing the Galician coast - during the August 2011 research expedition of the ocean survey vessel ‘Miguel Oliver’. It was undertaken under the Indemares project, which aims to study and characterise marine ecosystems off the Spanish coast with the overall aim of developing the Spanish marine Natura 2000 network.
25 June 2012 Waste reduction is a top priority for the EU’s Waste Framework Directive and LIFE has been co-financing a major EU level initiative promoting waste reduction over the last three years. Using support from the LIFE Information & Communication component, the ‘European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR)’ project has made beneficial progress in raising awareness about this important European policy goal across many countries.
LIFE’s inputs into the EWWR came to a conclusion recently with the project’s final conference, held in Paris. The conference focused on the important role that effective communication methods can play in promoting opportunities for reducing the amount of waste that society creates.
12 June 2012 To mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012, the LIFE Units have published a special brochure - The Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done - containing interviews with some of the many people who have been involved with and benefitted from the LIFE programme over the last two decades.
As an extra feature in this, the 20th anniversary month, you can listen to extracts from some of the interviews below. Hear the Head of the LIFE Nature Unit, Angelo Salsi, discussing the outstanding achievements of the LIFE programme and Frank Vassen, one of the few people to have been a LIFE project manager, monitor and Desk Officer within the LIFE Unit, highlighting the value and importance of the programme's bottom-up approach, the scale of its projects and the importance of EU recognition for those projects.
08 June 2012 Restoration actions carried out under the LIFE project, ‘Danube birds conservation’ (LIFE07 NAT/SK/000707), are greatly benefitting sand martins (Riparia riparia) at one site in Slovakia. Restoration last year of a 200 m-section of steep river bank, a traditional nesting site for the bird species, has led to their return in high numbers.
Tomas Kusik of the BROZ Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development, the project beneficiary, said: “A couple of years ago, no nesting was recorded, but after our restoration action, 970 pairs are now nesting there!”
The overall objective of the project is to improve the conservation status of the floodplain bird species in the Natura 2000 sites: SPA Dunajské luhy (Slovakia) and SPA Szigetkoz (Hungary).
29 May 2012In an address at Green Week in Brussels on 24 May, Karl Falkenberg, Director General of DG Environment, said that integrated projects which co-ordinate actions with other funding streams represent the way forward for the LIFE programme.
Speaking at the session, ’20 years of LIFE – the past, present and future of water policy funding’, Mr Falkenberg said that the limited LIFE budget means that projects will have to use “multiplier effects” to achieve an impact that is not merely local but one that spreads across Member States, he said. The EU will favour cross-border initiatives, while partnerships for research will give access to additional finances, he added.
25 May 2012A special celebration was held during Green Week in Brussels to mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme, the Habitats Directive and Natura 2000. Bruno Julien, a former head of LIFE and Nature Units, DG ENV, said that LIFE projects had convinced people in his native France and in many countries of the worth of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites.
Mr Julien was honoured to present the awards to the best LIFE Nature projects of 2011 at the event. Four projects were singled out for special praise as ‘Best of the Best’ projects 2011, while a further nine were named ‘best’ projects.
24 May 2012As part of the year-long celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme, a special event was organised under the Danish presidency of the EU in Jutland on 21 May – 20 years to the day since the passing of the LIFE Regulation and the EU Habitats Directive into law.
The visitor centre of Lille Vildmose, a Natura 2000 site that is home of one of the last remaining areas of active raised bog in Denmark, welcomed a delegation of representatives from national nature associations, NGOs, the European Committee of the Danish Parliament and the European Commission, as well as Janez Potočnik, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Ida Auken, the Danish environment minister, and Henning Jensen, the mayor of Aalborg.
22 May 2012The first griffon vulture nest for 50 years has been discovered in the Balkan Mountains – thanks to the reintroduction efforts of the 'Vultures Return in Bulgaria' (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278) project. This announcement made during LIFE's 20th anniversary celebrations – feted in EU countries throughout the month of May – provides yet more evidence of the positive impact of the LIFE programme. The evidence of the return to nest of this endangered bird of prey (to an area where they haven't been seen for 50 years) also highlights the (early) positive results of the griffon conservation measures being carried out in Bulgaria by the project beneficiary, Green Balkans, with its partner the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna.
16 May 2012A new report , which was carried out as part of a LIFE+ project, shows that blood bags made of DEHP-plasticised PVC pose a significant risk to human health. The report – a life-cycle assessment, LCA – was commissioned by the Swedish project ‘PVCfreeBloodBag’ (LIFE10 ENV/SE/000037), which is aiming to phase out the current blood bags in Europe and replace them with PVC-free alternatives.
The study compared the impact of a blood bag made of PVC (polyvinylchloride) and DEHP (di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) with that of a hypothetical blood bag made of HDPE (high density polyethylene). The LCA shows that today’s PVC bag has a significantly higher potential for harming human health than a polyethylene bag, with regards to both DEHP and PVC.
03 May 2012LIFE celebrates its 20th anniversary on 21 May 2012: The LIFE Regulation passed into law on 21 May 1992 – paving the way for the launch of the LIFE programme, the EU’s financial instrument for the environment. To mark this auspicious occasion, more than 300 ‘LIFE 20th anniversary’ events are taking place throughout the month of May – organised by LIFE projects present or past. The dissemination (innovative and fun) events range from a LIFE Easter Camp for kids (Spain), a regional Flower Fair (Greece), to a moonlit Frog Concert (Germany)
In addition, a special one-day nature event, held in Jutland (Denmark) on 21 May, will mark both LIFE’s 20th birthday and celebrate the EU Habitats Directive and Natura 2000 network. For details of this event – attended by Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik, and Denmark’s Environment Minister, Ida Auken – as well as information on all the 300-plus LIFE events, see the LIFE 20th anniversary calendar.
19 April 2012Proving there is plenty of life after LIFE, the Dutch company Paperfoam, a recipient of LIFE funding from 1999-2001 (LIFE99 ENV/NL/000232) has recently launched a commercial product that achieves one of the key goals of its LIFE Environment project. The target of the 'Paperfoam' project was to develop new, 'green' products for the industrial packaging market based around a patented 'injection moulding' technology and using recyclable raw materials, such as potato starch, rather than the usual polystyrenes or cardboard. The beneficiary aimed to show that it was possible to produce a commercially viable, environmentally friendly alternative that could be used for packaging both food and non-food items.
12 April 2012 LiveWell for LIFE (LIFE10/ENV/UK/000173) – a new LIFE+ project promoting a healthier and more sustainable diet among Europeans; and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the EU food supply chain – has published a report following its launch stakeholder debate, held in Brussels in February 2012.
The report “Eating our way to a healthy planet” summarizes the debate, which brought together representatives from national and European institutions, businesses, industry and academia. Tony Long, Director of the WWF European Policy Office (a project partner) and Catherine Bearder, Member of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development, were among the main speakers.
23 March 2012The Italian Parliament is to change an environmental law to allow the use of beached Posidonia oceanica (algae and seagrass) residues as compost for agricultural purposes. This decision was heavily influenced by the work of the ongoing Italian LIFE+ Environment PRIME project.
Every year many coastal communities face the environmental problem of what to do with the thousands of tonnes of P.oceanica residues that are washed up on Mediterranean beaches. A bill to allow the possible reuse of the biomass as compost for agricultural purposes has been approved by the Italian Senate and is at the Chamber of Deputies for final approval. It contains a clear reference to the favourable results of the LIFE+ PRIME project.
22 March 2012To mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012, the LIFE Units organised two competitions open to all beneficiaries and project partners, past or present: a photo competition and a competition to sum up, in 20 words or less, what LIFE means to you.
From the numerous entries received, a panel of judges had the hard task of selecting the 20 “Best” photos and 20 “Best” texts. This long-list of “Best” entries was then whittled down to select the three “Best of the Best” photos and texts.
14 March 2012An important conservation and access project on the UK's Suffolk coast is making significant progress on improving water management and reducing the impact of disturbance on an incredibly fragile landscape. With support from LIFE+ Nature, the National Trust at Orford Ness and the RSPB at Havergate Island are working together for the benefit of internationally important wildlife, habitats and landscape under the “The Alde-Ore Estuary - Securing a sustainable future for wildlife” project (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000199).
13 March 2012The sixth LIFE+ call for proposals was published on 13 March 2012, with up to €276 million available for co-financing of projects under three headings: Nature and biodiversity; Environment policy and governance; and Information and communication.
Project proposals should be sent to the relevant national authority no later than 26 September, 2012. National authorities will then send them to the European Commission by 2 October, 2012. The earliest possible starting date for 2012 projects is 1 July, 2013.
07 March 2012The latest LIFE Focus publication is a special edition to mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012. A joint publication of the LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment units, The Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done focuses on the people who have helped the LIFE programme achieve so much over the last two decades. Featuring interviews with more than 75 individuals from 20 countries, the publication allows people to explain, in their own words, the impact that LIFE co-funding has had on their work, their environment, their communities and their lives.
17 February 2012Two Danish LIFE Nature projects, which were launched in 2011 and focus on restoring raised bogs in "Lille Vildmose" (LIFE10 NAT/DK/000102) and "Sølsted Mose" (LIFE10 NAT/DK/000099), recently held a joint-venture seminar on best practice for raised bog restoration. The restoration of raised bog (7110*) is currently a nature conservation priority In Denmark.
The seminar, which took place on 31 January at the "Lille Vildmose" visitor centre, was an opportunity for leading Danish raised bog experts to make recommendations for achieving a favourable conservation status of raised bog in the two project sites.
15 February 2012After many years of decline, the bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is re-establishing itself in British wetlands. While its subtle brown plumage make it difficult to spot among reeds, its distinctive foghorn-like call or ‘boom’ is being heard again in Britain thanks to conservation efforts co-funded by LIFE. In 1997, the population of bitterns had fallen to 11, and the project, ‘Bittern - Urgent action for the Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) in the UK’ (LIFE96 NAT/UK/003057) was launched to arrest the decline of this bird species, which before the Middle Ages was common in the UK. Its numbers fell first as a result of its desirability as a delicacy, then its interest to taxidermists, and finally the drainage of wetlands.
09 February 2012As a result of its actions to restore an endangered habitat of North Wales, the LIFE Nature Anglesey and Lleyn Fens project (LIFE07 NAT/UK/000948) is forming an important link with the local community. Whilst the goal of the project is to restore EU Habitats Directive-listed alkaline and calcareous fens through ground works followed by extensive grazing, as project manager Justin Hanson explains in this interview (mp3 file) , through its actions, the village of Talwrn on Anglesey has been able to replace a vital part of community life: the village shop.
Such is the appreciation for LIFE's efforts, that, not only has the shop been named after the local project site (Cors Bodeilio), but it will also be used to disseminate information about the project.
06 February 2012Two successful LIFE wetlands-related projects, one in Ireland and the other in Germany, highlight the importance of the LIFE programme for wetland conservation – said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, in a statement to mark World Wetlands Day 2012 (2 February).
Wetlands are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems, with some 50% of all wetlands having disappeared in the last century, said the Commissioner, noting that: "In Europe, the situation is even grimmer, with two thirds of our wetlands having disappeared over the past 100 years."
The EU is a major provider of funds for wetland conservation projects both within and outside Europe, he commented, adding that since 1992, LIFE has co-funded some 120 wetlands-related projects. Almost all of these have been oriented towards nature conservation, reflecting the biodiversity value of the wetland habitats.
02 February 2012The European Commission has begun a period of consultation on a dedicated legislative instrument on invasive alien species (IAS) (27 January to 12 April). It welcomes contributions from all citizens and stakeholder organisations to the new instrument which it aims to develop by 2012.
The Commission adopted a Communication "Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species (2008)" to address the gap in legislation on IAS. Last year, the Commission outlined its aim to ensure that "by 2020, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and their pathways are identified and prioritised, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and pathways are managed to prevent the introduction and establishment of new IAS". The focus of the latest consultation is on the policy measures that are now being considered based on the input and feedback from all relevant stakeholders since the start of the process in 2008.
31 January 2012The Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarships 2012 are now open for applications!. The award provides three young European conservationists with €3 000 to undertake a study visit to one or more protected area located in a European country other than his/her own. They are awarded by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation and the EUROPARC Federation. The deadline for applications is 11 May, 2012.
The €3 000, donated by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation (DE), gives successful scholars the chance to gather experience and strengthen their networks. Applicants must be under 35 and of European nationality, and themes for applications must be connected to the management of natural areas.
23 January 2012Turtles are a common ‘poster child’ of worldwide conservation efforts. However, exotic species of turtle, such as the common slider (Trachemys scripta), are amongst the most damaging invasive species in Europe. LIFE-Trachemys (LIFE09 NAT/ES/000529) successfully captured 4 600 sliders from wetlands in Valencia in 2011. This represents three times more captures than the preceding year.
19 January 2012Ten European companies have pledged to reduce their impact on biodiversity, as part of a LIFE+ project, the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign (LIFE08 INF/D/000022). The companies representative of a broad range of sectors – include a car producer, airport manager, a large travel agency and a producer of outdoor products – have all successfully implemented a ‘Biodiversity Check’ offered by the 2010-2012 project.
18 January 2012Sharing best practices on European river restoration is one of the main goals of the LIFE+ Information & Communication project; RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032). It was also the topic of a successful workshop hosted last November, by the partnership project in Slovenia.
The workshop, held in November 2011 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, looked at "Experiences on reaching consensus on river restoration good practices, as a means to support delivery of European policy goals." It was facilitated by the Environment Agency (England and Wales), the Government Service for Land and Water Management (DLG, the Netherlands), The River Restoration Centre (UK), Wetlands International, CIRF (Italy) and SYKE (Finland) as part of the ongoing RESTORE partnership.
16 January 2012A LIFE project is asking for your help in gaining better understanding about EU land use and ‘land stewardship’.
All that’s required is a few minutes of your time to complete an online questionnaire. Your answers will be used to help build a baseline of information about the concept of EU land stewardship.
Don’t worry if the terminology and concept are new to you because the aim of the survey is to find out what type of information and awareness raising actions are needed to promote land stewardship as an empowerment tool for involving stakeholders in biodiversity conservation.
12 January 2012The LIFE+ Nature project, ‘HAPPYFISH’, has been awarded the 2011 Estonian Environmental Prize, which is given to outstanding projects, campaigns or events in the fields of environmental protection, information dissemination and awareness-raising. "The project ‘Happyfish’ is an excellent example of how a bright idea can be combined with innovation and care for old traditions and important natural values," said Keit Pentus, the Estonian environment minister, on announcing the winners.
The project – ‘Saving life in meanders and oxbow lakes of Emajõgi River on Alam-Pedja NATURA 2000 area’ (‘Happyfish’ LIFE07 NAT/EE/000120) – is being implemented by the NGO Estonian Wildlife.
15 December 2011The EU Member States represented on the LIFE Committee and the European Commission's LIFE Nature Unit have announced the Best LIFE Nature Projects 2010. The 18 projects selected represent the most successful of the recently completed LIFE Nature projects, in terms of best practices and/or demonstration actions on nature conservation and the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.
12 December 2011News about LIFE’s successor has been released from the European Commission which confirms a proposed LIFE budget of €3.2 billion over the 2014-2020 financial period. The new draft regulation refers to a LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action and has been designed to build on the success of the existing LIFE+ Programme. The proposals introduce innovations to strengthen LIFE’s structure, enhance its strategic role and simplify operations through greater flexibility.