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Indicative planning for the LIFE call 2016


08 February 2016 An indicative planning for the LIFE call 2016 is now available. Applicants busy designing a potential new LIFE project now have a rough guide to the expected deadlines and submission routes. In addition, the total budget allocations for project types and subprogrammes are detailed.

The official 2016 call is provisionally scheduled to be published in the second half of May. Once ready, an application package and supporting information will also be made available, similar to previous calls.


LIFE CREAMAgua wins prize for the defence of nature

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/000431

28 January 2016 On Saturday, 23 January 2016 the LIFE Environment project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/000431) received the XXXV Jaulín prize – in the ‘regional’ category – for the defence of nature. For 35 years the Jaulín awards have been recognising the work of individuals and organisations that help towards the conservation of nature.

The Jaulín award is the third such prize received by LIFE CREAMAgua in recognition of the project’s great results to date. In November 2013 it was awarded a runners-up award in the Conama prize for sustainability and two years ago it received the 16th Prize for the Environment Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon.


LIFE environmental impact assessment tool is widely adopted

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/FI/000905

27 January 2016 The recently completed LIFE project IMPERIA (LIFE11 ENV/FI/000905), which developed an ARVI tool for carrying out environmental impact assessment (EIA), is already creating an impression. The project engaged experts, researchers and authorities in Finland, who are interested in applying the ARVI method.

The project's Excel-based ARVI method is moreover already being used by the largest consulting offices and has been applied to eight extensive EIA initiatives. These include the impact assessments of the increased use of biofuels by Helsingin Energia in 2014 and of the natural gas pipe between Finland and Estonia (Balticconnector) in 2015.


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


26 January 2016 The European Commission today announced an investment of € 63.8 million for the first-ever "Integrated Projects" to be funded under the LIFE programme for the environment. "Integrated Projects" were introduced to implement environmental legislation on a wider scale and increase the impact of funding for plans developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level. The six projects selected have a total budget of € 108.7 million, including € 63.8 million of EU co-financing. They could leverage and coordinate over € 1 billion in complementary funding from EU agricultural and regional funds, as well as national and private funds. The money will support projects in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland, and the UK.

The main feature of these projects is their all-encompassing approach, ensuring involvement of multiple stakeholders and promoting the mobilisation of at least one other funding source, be it EU, national or private. LIFE Integrated Projects were introduced to help Member States comply with key EU legislation in four areas: Nature, Water, Air and Waste.


LIFE project wins Polish Innovation Award


25 January 2016 The project LIFE-ENERGA Living Lab-PL (LIFE13 ENV/PL/000004) was awarded with the prestigious Polish Innovation Award 2015 during the Third Polish Entrepreneurship Congress at the beginning of November in Łódź.

The award is granted annually by the Polish agency for enterprise development and the Polish newspaper Forum Przedsiębiorczości to businesses and projects that have shown particular innovation in the field of research and development. In 2015 the award highlighted activities perceived as being particularly important for the future of Poland and Europe. Its main theme was innovative synergies between science and research.


New publication: LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation

LIFE and Climate change adaptation

22 January 2016 The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication looks at the importance of partnership work to the successful implementation of EU nature and biodiversity policy, in particular the management of the Natura 2000 network. Effective conservation today means working with a variety of different stakeholder groups. It means going beyond traditional partnerships with those who make a living from the land or sea – farmers, fishermen, foresters etc. – and working with society as a whole.

The 76-page brochure, LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation, gives a taste of the breadth of stakeholder groups atypical to nature conservation that LIFE projects have worked with up till now. It reveals the secrets of successful projects and highlights important lessons for building strong and durable stakeholder partnerships for managing EU biodiversity.


First LIFE Preparatory projects support nature policy implementation


19 January 2016 The 2014 LIFE call for proposals saw the introduction of new categories of LIFE projects, such as Integrated Projects (which will be launched on 26 January 2016) and Preparatory projects (LIFE PRE). The latter category is for projects that address specific needs for the development and implementation of EU environmental or climate policy and legislation.

The European Commission's 2014 call identified needs regarding:

  • the establishment of an EU environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) platform on Best Available Techniques (BAT);
  • the completion of EU28/Pan-European Species Red Lists for species groups relevant to the EU Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC); and
  • the development and update of EU-wide species action plans for bird species listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EU Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).

Two LIFE PRE projects have been funded that address the second and third of these needs.


EU Sustainable Energy Awards up for grabs

EU Sustainable Energy Awards LOGO

18 January 2016 EU Sustainable Energy Awards up for grabs
The Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) has just launched this year's EU Sustainable Energy Awards competition. Any recent sustainable energy project or initiative – be it small and local or large-scale – can enter as long as it is based in the EU or Iceland, Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Israel, Moldova, Switzerland, Faroe Islands or Ukraine. Potential entrants include LIFE projects dedicated to energy efficiency, for instance.

The high-level jury will be looking for innovative and original initiatives that have a measurable impact in helping to reduce energy use or promote renewable energy and hence contribute to the EU's climate and energy goals. They should also be replicable across Europe and be well-received by the general public.


The Best LIFE Environment projects 2014

Best LIFE Environment projects 2014

15 January 2016 This new publication from the LIFE programme, the EU’s fund for the environment and climate action, highlights the achievements and value for money of the most outstanding Environment projects completed before the end of 2014.

The 25 featured projects - drawn from nine EU Member States – showcase examples of practical solutions to many of the most pressing environmental challenges of the age, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change, using water less wastefully, protecting soil quality, managing and reusing waste and developing greener manufacturing processes.

Eight projects received the ultimate accolade (‘Best of the Best’ project), including LIFE Information and Communication (INF) projects with an environmental focus in Slovenia and the UK. In addition, a further 17 projects (including one from the LIFE INF strand) were recognised as ‘Best’ LIFE projects for their excellent work.


Celebrating Natura 2000 Day in May 2016

Natura 2000 Day

13 January 2016 In May, people across Europe will get to celebrate the European Union's Natura 2000 network. A variety of exciting events are being organised at Natura 2000 sites on and around Saturday, 21 May 2016 for members of the public and visitors to these protected havens.

Natura 2000 Day is about making European citizens more aware of the natural riches of the Natura 2000 network and of the conservation work they carry out. The date is an important one for Natura 2000 site managers because it is also when the European  Commission announces the winners of the Natura 2000 Award at a special ceremony in Brussels.

Natura 2000 day is an initiative of the LIFE project LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000 (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665) which, among other things, has produced a website for the day as well as promotional items, including a trilingual Natura 2000 day song. The main aim of the project is to increase awareness of the Natura 2000 network in Spain and across Europe helping to create a new relationship between the general public and the Natura 2000 network. In turn this will facilitate a smoother and more effective implementation of the Habitats and Bird Directives and ensure a better understanding and protection of biodiversity as a whole.


First Bulgarian conference on the reintroduction of conservation-reliant species

Photo: Hristo Peshev FWFF

12 January 2016 The first national conference on the reintroduction of conservation-reliant species, together with a related art exhibition, entitled Great Return, took place from 19–21 November 2015 at Sofia University, Bulgaria. The event was organised by the university's Faculty of Biology, the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna and Green Balkans, and held under the auspices of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water.

The conference was attended by more than 100 academics, scientists and students. The event highlighted the work of Bulgaria's conservation and scientific community and demonstrated their commitment to using the latest information and knowledge in allocating resources to conserve and restore endangered protected species.


New dog patrols protect rare eagle populations in Portugal

Photo: LIFE13 NAT/PT/001300

11 January 2016 The first dog patrols to detect the use of poison targeting eagle populations in Portugal are now operational. The illegal use of poisoning is a major threat to the eagle species, which is already one of the most threatened bird of prey species in Europe. The use of poison is also damaging to the environment and to human health.

The canine units were established under the LIFE Imperial project (LIFE13 NAT/PT/001300), which was launched to boost the conservation of the Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) in the country.

The LIFE project purchased seven dogs - both German shepherd and Belgium Malinois breeds. Having just finished their specific training for poison detection, the canine units are ready to begin patrols across a number of project sites in Portugal, namely Castro Verde, Vale do Guadiana, Mourão/Moura/Barrancos and Tejo Internacional/Terges/Ponsul.

The dog units will be a great asset to Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), the Portuguese law enforcement agency responsible for environment protection, as it seeks to prosecute those setting poison baits.


EWWR's record week for waste reduction in Europe


08 January 2016 Last year’s edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) has once again been a success. With 40 coordinators coordinating over 12 000 actions in 33 countries, the 2015 edition beat all previous records regarding the number of coordinators involved and the number of countries covered. The 7th edition of the EWWR benefited from wide political support. In particular, it took place under the patronage of the European Parliament and its President, Martin Schulz.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of action developers and to the efforts of individual coordinators, the EWWR returned for an intensive week of awareness-raising events running from the 21-29 November 2015. Open to all, the EWWR happenings related to waste reduction, product reuse and material recycling, as well as to clean-ups, all over Europe. Participants could simply choose from the thousands of actions on the EWWR database.   

More details about the successful 2015 edition are available from the EWWR Press Release, EWWR Press Kit and a recent LIFE news article. The EWWR is now preparing for its annual awards ceremony, which takes place each year in May and which salutes the best actions implemented during the awareness-raising week.


Maltese seabird project presents IBA inventory

Logo Malta Seabird Project

16 December 2015The LIFE Malta Seabird Project (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090) recently held an international workshop on seabirds to present the inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) within Maltese waters that was created by the ongoing project. Hosted by project beneficiary, BirdLife Malta, it was held on the island of Gozo.

The workshop attracted around 50 international participants – marine scientists, conservationists, government officials and European Commission representatives – from 17 countries. It was an opportunity to gather experience of protecting seabirds in the Mediterranean and to set a way forward for seabird protection across national borders.

The LIFE Malta Seabird Project has been carrying out research for the past four years to identify the most important marine sites for Malta’s protected, breeding seabirds, namely the Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), the Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) and the European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus).


New publication out! Best LIFE Nature projects 2014

LIFE10 NAT/BE/000709

15 December 2015This new publication from the LIFE programme, the EU's fund for the environment and climate action, highlights the achievements and value for money of the most outstanding Nature, Biodiversity and Information and Communication projects with a nature focus that were completed before the end of last year.

Five projects received the ultimate accolade ('Best of the Best' project), including a LIFE Information and Communication (INF) project in Greece. For the first time, the public was allowed to vote for its favourite one of these projects. The inaugural winner of the public vote - the LIFE Community Award for Nature - was announced at the 7th edition of the annual awards ceremony for the winning projects, held in Brussels during EU Green Week earlier this year.


LIFE Elia wins Renewable Grid Initiative award

LIFE10 NAT/BE/000709

11 December 2015The LIFE project Elia (LIFE10 NAT/BE/000709) has won first prize in the environmental protection category in the Renewables Grid Initiative’s ‘Good Practice of the Year’ 2015 awards. The winners were presented with their trophies at the second annual award ceremony in Brussels on 19 November 2015.

The Elia project was launched to create green corridors for biodiversity under overhead high-tension electrical lines in wooded areas (155 km of corridors in Belgium and on seven sites in France). The RGI award was made in recognition of the importance of the private sector in nature protection, and a successful business and biodiversity initiative.


Work programme applications now open for selected NGOs

LIFE Ecosystem Services

10 December 2015 Selected non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have now been invited to submit their applications for the award of an operating grant covering the financial year 2016. Applications should be returned by the end of this year (31 December) and can be downloaded here.

The application process follows on from the European Commission's call for LIFE framework partnership agreements for NGOs. Applications for the 2016 work programmes will be assessed in January/February ahead of the signing of specific operating grant agreements in March 2016.


New ecosystem services video from Latvia

LIFE Ecosystem Services

09 December 2015The Latvian project LIFE Ecosystem Services (LIFE13 ENV/LV/000839) has just published a new video that explores the relationship between man and nature. The film provides a straightforward explanation of what ecosystem services are, as well as their benefits for humankind.

The video, entitled, ‘assessment of ecosystems and their services for nature biodiversity conservation and management’, is one of three planned around the theme of ecosystem services. These films are part of the project’s extensive communications campaign.

EU biodiversity strategy requires Member States to identify, map and assess ecosystems and their services. In Latvia, however, such practices have not yet been introduced and LIFE Ecosystem Services aims to close this gap by developing an innovative methodology which balances environmental, social and economic values.


LIFE and Climate change adaptation

LIFE and Climate change adaptation

01 December 2015The latest LIFE Focus brochure highlights the contribution the LIFE programme has made to the implementation of EU policy on climate change adaptation. Together with last year's brochure on LIFE and Climate change mitigation, it gives an overview of LIFE's work to date in the field of climate action. Both brochures are essential reading ahead of COP21 in Paris.

LIFE and Climate change adaptation features a foreword by Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. In it he spells out the importance of taking an integrated approach to climate adaptation, enabling it to be mainstreamed into all relevant sectors.

This integrated approach is reflected in the content of the latest LIFE Focus brochure, with an introduction to policy issues and LIFE's impact followed by thematic sections covering all the key sectors: strategic planning for adaptation at national and local level; urban resilience; agriculture; forests; water (including water management and flood protection); coastal areas; and biodiversity.


Irish river restoration project wins award

Photo:LIFE09 NAT/IE/000220

30 November 2015The LIFE project BLACKWATER SAMOK (LIFE09 NAT/IE/000220) will receive an award at the Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) Awards 2015 in recognition of its “extraordinary work.” The CEF judges were particularly impressed by the project’s initiative to tackle the spread of Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), an invasive species prevalent on the banks of the Allow river.

The award ceremony takes place in Cork city on 3 December 2015. Nominations are sought in several categories, and the LIFE project is to receive the Community and Voluntary Sector Environmental Award. 


European Land Conservation Network to be LIFE project's legacy

Landlife manual

26 November 2015 Representatives of the LandLife project (LIFE10 INF/ES/000540 ), were amongst the more than 100 people from around the world who participated in the 2nd International Land Conservation Network (ILCN) Congress , in Berlin from 19-21 October 2015.

The congress saw participating organisations from the EU create a European chapter of the ILCN: the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN). This marked a key step towards achieving the LandLife project's vision that, by 2020, land stewardship will become a widely accepted land management approach on all kinds of landscapes across Europe for helping to preserve Europe's natural beauty and resources.

The European congress delegates exchanged experiences with long-established land trust organisations in the USA and Canada, and with countries like South Africa and Chile that are in the process of building land trust systems. Participants agreed that, while conserving the grassroots approach at local level, the ELCN would also have to define and harmonise EU-wide standards and practices, provide legal guidance at national level, and help build trust between the nature conservation community and private landowners.


Commission awarded 26 action grants in first year of LIFE Climate Action projects


25 November 2015 The European Commission has announced the first recipients of LIFE Climate Action funding. It has awarded action grants to 26 projects in 11 Member States. The projects represent a total investment of some €73.9 million. The EU will provide €36.75 million of this figure. The projects cover actions in the fields of climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and climate governance and information.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: “These projects demonstrate EU support for practical action to meet climate obligations ahead of the Paris Climate Conference. They show that it is possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. LIFE is contributing to a shift towards a low carbon, resource efficient and climate-resilient economy.”


LIFE project wins Natura 2000 Award

Photo:LIFE11 INF/ES/000665

24 November 2015A Natura 2000 Award (European Citizen category) was recently presented to SEO/BirdLife, Agencia EFE and BirdLife Europe, the beneficiaries of the ‘LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity’ project (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665), at a presentation in the Campo de Montiel Natura 2000 network site in the Spanish region of Castile-La Mancha. Daniel Calleja Crespo, the Director-General for the European Commission’s Environment Directorate, handed over the award to the project beneficiaries for their work in establishing a ‘Natura 2000 Day’.

The first Natura 2000 Day was held on 21 May 2013, and the LIFE project team hope it will continue to be held annually on this date. The LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000 project’s overall objective is to improve awareness of the Natura 2000 network, with Natura 2000 Day being the first campaign targeted at EU citizens to encourage them to get to know and support the European network of protected areas. For further information, visit the project’s website.


German school pupils help increase oak-hornbeam forest in western Germany

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/DE/000147

23 November 2015Pupils of the Heinrich Böll Secondary School near Cologne, Germany, are helping the LIFE project Ville Forests (LIFE13 NAT/DE/000147) to increase the area of oak-hornbeam forest in western Germany. At the end of October the 11-year-olds made trays, filled them with locally collected acorns and placed them in selected spruce stands for the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) to collect and hide over winter.

Using the jay as an aide to spread acorns is a traditional method of encouraging oak regeneration in conifer monocultures. The aim is to eventually convert these conifer patches into predominantly oak habitats.

The jay hoards large number of acorns in the autumn to make sure it has enough food for the winter. Not all of the acorns get eaten and those that don't then germinate in the spring, producing young oaks that will hopefully grow into adult trees.


European Commission invests € 160.6 million in 96 new environment projects

Photo:Nicola Caputo

20 November 2015The European Commission has approved funding for 96 new projects in 21 Member States under its LIFE programme for the Environment. These projects represent a total investment of € 264.8 million, of which the EU will provide € 160.6 million. They cover actions in the field of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "Money invested in environment projects is money well spent. I am delighted to see that our LIFE programme will support many innovative projects, and I am sure they will make a vital contribution. As well as protecting and enhancing natural capital, there are many promising avenues here that will help steer Europe towards a low-carbon, resource efficient and sustainable future. We will follow these projects carefully, with a view to sharing and replicating their success."


European Parliament LIFE workshop outlines effective ways forward

Photo:Nicola Caputo

17 November 2015At a recent workshop at the European Parliament - ‘LIFE – How to use €3.46 billion for environment and climate protection’ (10 November), - Angelo Salsi, head of unit, LIFE and CIP Eco-innovation, EASME, said that the increased budget for LIFE in the 2014-2020 funding period was an "endorsement of the quality of work" performed by the programme.

The workshop, which was organised by the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee in cooperation with the LIFE Working Group, explored ways in which the current edition of LIFE can make an effective contribution to the achievement of environmental protection and climate change targets. It was aimed at members of the ENVI Committee and all participants of the LIFE programme.

The event was chaired by Italian MEP Nicola Caputo and Croatian MEP Dubravka Suica, who are the co-chairs of the LIFE Working Group, ENVI Committee. The first part examined the new programme, while the second half of the workshop focused on improving the LIFE programme’s effectiveness and the promotion of good practices.


Efforts to combat Dutch elm disease in Gotland awarded

Photo:LIFE12 NAT/SE/001139

16 November 2015The LIFE-ELMIAS award was recently presented to 25 people at the annual Meadow Day at Väskinde community centre, Gotland, Sweden. The award recognises the special efforts the awardees have made in the fight against Elms disease on the Swedish island as part of the LIFE project LIFE- ELMIAS (LIFE12 NAT/SE/001139). The awards were presented for the second year running.

LIFE-ELMIAS is a five-year project aiming to carry out activities to safeguard threatened habitats including Fennoscandian wooded meadows and Fennoscandian old broad-leaved deciduous forests. These habitats make up almost 70% of the old growth tree layer on Gotland and contain 17% of the Swedish population of old elms and 24% of the old ash.


LIFE project surveys awareness of climate change resilience in Italy


12 November 2015All European regions will be affected by climate change, but the impacts will depend on the local context. Climate change therefore needs to be addressed at local level, through local actions and planning strategies, as well as at national, European, and global level, such as the UN Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris next month.

The BLUE AP project (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000119) developed a local Adaptation Plan to Climate Change for Bologna (Italy), which defined strategies and measures for alleviating climate change impacts such as water shortages, heatwaves, and heavy precipitation and flooding. The measures included ‘green’ and ‘blue’ infrastructure approaches, including green roofs and facades, rainfall harvesting and sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).Further information about the project can be found on its website.


LIFE project publishes Natura 2000 Network Handbook for journalists

Activa Red Natura 2000

06 November 2015The LIFE ‘Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity’ project has released its new publication ‘Natura 2000 Network Handbook for journalists’ in digital form, in Spanish and English versions. The handbook contains useful information on the Natura 2000 network, and an assessment of the weaknesses and strengths that hinder or foster communications concerning the network of European protected areas.

The Handbook for journalists was developed from a communications workshop on the Natura 2000 network organised by the LIFE project’s coordinating beneficiary SEO/BirdLife, the EFE news agency and the Association of Environmental Information Journalists (APIA). The workshop was held in Madrid in December 2013.


First PVC-free blood bags tested

Photo: LIFE10 ENV/SE/000037

03 November 2015The Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm has carried out the first in vitro tests of PVC-free blood bags.

The hospital is a partner in the LIFE project ‘PVCFreeBloodBag’ (LIFE10 ENV/SE/000037), which was set up to address the lack of incentives for blood bag manufacturers to create PVC-free blood bags. To this end, the project is demonstrating that public healthcare organisations and private plastics manufacturers can co-operate in removing barriers to PVC-free blood bags.


Birds-eye video raises awareness of La Mancha wetlands

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563

23 October 2015 The LIFE La Mancha project (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563) is raising awareness of the importance of the La Mancha wetlands in Central Spain via an innovative video made using geo-journalism tools. By overlapping project information and online images, the video illustrates the exact locations and range of project actions.

“Google Earth has a huge potential to show information, from a global and local point of view, to help us understand our closest environment,” points out the project’s video-maker Eduardo García Milagros.

An essential part of the project is to raise awareness of the importance of the La Mancha wetlands, which are less well-known than other wetlands in the region.


LIFE and Land Stewardship report published

LIFE and Land Stewardship report

16 October 2015 The LIFE external monitoring team (NEEMO) has just published a thematic report entitled LIFE and Land Stewardship: Current status, challenges and opportunities. In this report to the European Commission, the authors assess the contribution made by the LIFE programme in engaging private stakeholders in nature conservation. The comprehensive report also explores how LIFE projects could further contribute to land stewardship agreements throughout the EU.

Land stewardship is defined as a strategy to involve landowners and land users (such as farmers, foresters, hunters, fishers and recreationalists) in the conservation of nature and landscape, with the support of a range of civil society groups. The implementation of voluntary agreements between these groups offers an important means of extending conservation practices beyond the boundaries of the Natura 2000 network and other conventionally protected areas.


European Week for Waste Reduction - doing more with less


16 October 2015 The 2015 edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) takes place from the 21-29 November 2015. The EWWR consists of multiple activities taking place around Europe that promote awareness about sustainable resource and waste management. This year’s edition will have a particular focus on dematerialisation – doing more with less.

Dematerialisation includes the idea of replacing products with services, as well as of improving the use of materials (through product reuse, substituting materials or by using fewer materials for a specific function). Solutions such as the sharing economy, services replacing products and improved materials are important for resource efficiency.


Natura 2000 Award: Call for applications

Natura 2000 AWARDS

15 October 2015 You may now submit your applications for the third edition of the Natura 2000 awards.

The pan-European awards celebrate excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation. The European Commission launched the annual awards to showcase the added value of the network and to increasing public awareness about Europe's valuable natural heritage.

The awards comprise five different categories: Communication; Socio-Economic Benefits; Conservation; Reconciling Interests / Perceptions; and Cross-border Cooperation and Networking. An additional European Citizens' Award was introduced for the first time in 2015.


MoorLIFE 2020 becomes UK's largest ever LIFE Nature project

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

12 October 2015 The Moors for the Future Partnership, which works to protect priority international habitats in the Peak District and South Pennines, has received €16 million to deliver the MoorLIFE 2020 project.

This includes €12 million from LIFE, the largest award the programme has ever given to a UK-based conservation project. Additional funding is provided by the utility companies, Severn Trent Water United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.

The new project builds on 12 years of partnership work protecting large areas of the moors, including actions carried out as part of an earlier LIFE project (MoorLIFELIFE08 NAT/UK/000202).

The €16 million of funding will enable the partnership to expand its work hugely, protecting the integrity of 9 500 hectares of active blanket bog through re-vegetating bare peat, improving hydrology and diversifying existing vegetation.


LIFE carbon footprint calculator becomes footwear industry standard

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/ES/000315

25 September 2015 The Spanish Association for Standardisation and Certification (AENOR) has validated a carbon footprint calculation tool for the footwear industry developed by the LIFE project CO2SHOE (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000315). The computer-based tool is now operational as ‘Standard ISO/TS 14067 – Carbon footprint of products’.

Calculating carbon footprints for footwear is challenging, because greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be determined for many components (such as leather, plastics and textiles) and for a series of processes. LIFE project beneficiary INESCOP, the Spanish Footwear Technology Institute, achieved this goal by developing an innovative and user-friendly tool in partnership with the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC), the Spanish Federation of Footwear Industries (FICE), and technology companies in Italy, Poland and Portugal.


LIFE GtoG project releases report on best practice indicators for gypsum recycling


22 September 2015 The GtoG (from Gypsum to Gypsum) project (LIFE 11 ENV/BE/001039) has produced a report on best practice indicators (BPIs) for increasing recovery rates of waste gypsum in Europe. The ‘Report on Best Practice Indicators for Deconstruction, Recycling and Reincorporation Practices’ defines BPIs that will help optimise the quality and the amount of recycled gypsum, so that more of it can be reincorporated into manufacturing processes.

A large proportion of gypsum waste currently goes to landfill, for example, in the form of gypsum blocks and plasterboard. The GtoG project is working to create a recycling culture by building a resource-efficient circular economy around gypsum.


Dutch public health chief receives EDC petition

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833

17 September 2015 A petition against the use of hormone disrupting chemicals in products for children has been presented to Angelique Berg, the Director General Public Health in the Netherlands.

The petition, which was signed by 2 700 people, was drawn up under the LIFE project, ChildProtect-Life (LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833). It was handed over at a meeting between a number of representative groups and Dutch health ministry.

The meeting was an opportunity for parents to express their concerns about the effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the development and well being of their children. The petition was signed by parents earlier this year at the Sustainable Baby Plaza at the Nine Months Fair in Amsterdam.


Swedish King visits Vindel River LIFE

Photo:Martin Falklind

14 September 2015 Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf participated in a conference and private salmon fishing trip, organised as part of the Vindel River LIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/S/000266). The King opened the project’s ‘Healthy Salmon Rivers’ conference which ran from 18-20 August 2015. He participated in seminars on the first day and joined the second day’s excursion. He was also given a private guided tour to one of the Vindel river tributaries (Ruskträsk), where the project has been restoring existing salmon spawning beds, as well as constructing new ones.

"We need to work further to generate more good examples similar to Ruskträsk stream to thereby restore lost habitat for aquatic species,” the King said in a (Swedish) press release.


LIFE projects help Austrian river reach prestigious final

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/A/000614

11 September 2015 Austria’s Mur river has been selected as one of the three finalists in the 2015 Thiess International Riverprize. This prestigious annual award, is given by the International River Foundation (IRF) to a waterway that is judged as having achieved the most outstanding results in river management, restoration or protection. The other finalists in this global competition are the Lake Eyre Basin in Australia and the Jordan River in Jordan. The winner will be announced on 22 September 2015 at a gala event in Brisbane, Australia.

Rudolf Hornich, coordinator of flood risk management within the department of  water management, resources and sustainability of the Styrian Provincial Government, the competent authority for the Mur says, “part of this success are the LIFE projects at the upper river Mur, provided with the assistance of the European Union.”


JRC studies LIFE projects for compelling biodiversity argumentation

10 September 2015 Angelika Müller and Joachim Maes of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) have analysed 365 projects on the LIFE Nature projects database, to investigate the most effective means of persuading stakeholders about the value of nature restoration projects.

Entitled, Arguments for biodiversity conservation in Natura 2000 sites: An analysis based on LIFE projects, the paper was published on 24 August 2015 in the journal Nature Conservation. The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with 14 LIFE Nature project managers for the study, which was conducted within the framework of the EU-funded BESAFE project.

The case for biodiversity conservation can be made using instrumental and non-instrumental arguments. Instrumental arguments focus on economic and social factors, while non-instrumental arguments stress the inherent value of biodiversity and its role in human well-being. Stakeholder groups responded differently to the different types of argument.


Rare Spanish flower celebrated in song

Photo:LIFE11 BIO/ES/000727

09 September 2015 The ‘rebirth’ of a flower once feared extinct is cause for song and dance. The re-emergence of Garbancillo de Tallante (Astragalus nitidiflorus), which was declared extinct in 2003, is celebrated in a specially-composed song.  

The CONSERVASTRATRAGALUS-MU LIFE project (LIFE11 BIO/ES/000727) was set up in 2011 to strengthen existing populations of the rare plant species and to improve understanding of it. The song, a jaunty Spanish folk number, celebrates the inclusion of the endangered flower on the IUCN Red List.

Garbancillo de Tallante is an herbaceous, leguminous plant that flowers in spring for a period of two to three months, producing pale yellow flowers that have greenish yellow keels. The plant, which has a life span of four to five years, is found exclusively in the semi-arid Mediterranean areas of Cartegena, Murcia.


LIFE Northern Bald Ibis project leads juvenile bird migration to Tuscany

Photo:LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143

08 September 2015 After a total of 18 days, another human-led northern bald ibis migration headed by members of the LIFE Northern Bald Ibis project (LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143) has reached its destination, the wintering area Laguna die Orbetello in Italy, on 8 September. The group composed of 31 juvenile birds – 28 of which completed the migration – and two microlight aircraft carrying the birds’ human “foster parents” and their pilots had taken to the air on 22 August.

Over the last few months, the birds had been reared and trained in captivity by their foster parents from the project team, who followed the birds from Seekirchen am Wallersee (Austria) over the Alps to Laguna di Orbetello, a WWF Oasi in southern Tuscany. On the first flight day, they covered 118 km of a total distance of approximately 1 000 km.


While you were away…

A Frantzis/pelagos cetacean research institute

07 September 2015 July and August typically means holiday time for Europeans, however many of the LIFE community have avoided the beach and remained busy this summer. Here is a brief summary of some of the LIFE stories you may have missed while on vacation…

Policymakers and practitioners continued to digest lessons from EU Green Week 2015. The biggest annual conference on European environment policy was held in Brussels from 3-5 June. Naturally, LIFE played an important part in the event. See for yourself in the LIFE Green Week video.

Beyond Green Week, the news section of the LIFE website has featured activities ranging from successful conservation measures; unusual species reintroduction; protection of extremely rare birds; award-winning waste-reducing initiatives and smart communications.


Scottish project challenges students to make innovative use of data

Photo: LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182

31 August 2015 The LIFE project SEWEb (Scotland’s environment Web - LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182) organised a 'hackathon' on 30-31 May 2015 at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. Students from across Scotland were invited to the event, EcoHack 2015, to generate new ideas on collecting, viewing and making better use of data.

A hackathon involves programmers and others collaborating to create new applications or software. The SEWeb project aims to develop an advanced environmental information system that can expand access to the European Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) and to engage the general public in the protection of the environment. To this end, the event in May fitted the project's goals of making data more available on a wider scale, as well as encouraging public interest and involvement in the environment.


German project seeks radical ideas on improving sustainability

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/DE/000342

28 August 2015 The LIFE project Sustainability Maker (LIFE11 ENV/DE/000342) has launched a new challenge to find the most visionary ideas on how biomimetics can be combined with 3D-printing to generate more sustainable solutions.

The project aims to use the opportunities of presented by new media and other innovative, bottom up strategies to resolve urgent sustainability problems. Consequently, it has created an open innovation platform and network, 'Sustainability Maker', offering a collaborative approach to finding creative solutions. This will bring together people who have identified sustainability-related challenges with those developing solutions. The project will also help secure funding for such initiatives.

The newly launched challenge - Radical Sustainability through Biomimetics and 3D-Printing - has been initiated by Bionik-Netzwerk Hessen (Biomimetics Network Hessen) and the Association of German Industrial Designers (VDID).


Volunteers go fishing to help the threatened saramugo

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/PT/000786

26 August 2015 The LIFE project Saramugo (LIFE13 NAT/PT/000786) is currently conducting a campaign to remove invasive fish species from the Vascão stream in southern Portugal with the help of volunteers from all over the country. The invasive species are a threat to the survival of the endemic saramugo (Anaecypris hispanica), a small freshwater fish listed as ‘critically endangered’ in the ‘Portuguese Red Book of Vertebrates’.

The campaign, one of many actions undertaken by the project, targets three of the most common invasive fish species in the region, namely the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), chameleon cichlid (Australoheros facetus), and pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibossus).


Slovak project installs innovative bird flight diverters

Photo:LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272

21 August 2015 The project LIFE ENERGY (LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272) has unveiled a new system for protecting 110 kV power lines against collision with birds at a site near Lemešany in Slovakia. The installation is a major conservation measure of the LIFE project, whose overall goal is to safeguard endangered raptors and other bird species in the area.

The project is planning to “map over 8 000 km of power lines throughout eastern and western Slovakia, and identify the areas with high risk of bird collisions”, explained project manager Lucia Deutschová. In these areas, ‘flight diverters’ or visibility markers that the birds recognise and fly over are being installed. “In Slovakia, we can save annually thousands of birds, including many endangered species,” she added.


Water buffalo wetland grazing introduced to Germany

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/DE/000012

20 August 2015 Grazing water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) on rewetted land in Brandenburg are attracting much local interest. The buffaloes were reintroduced in July by a German LIFE project in order to improve the condition of close reed beds and bogs. More than 50 curious locals have already been to see the animals up close.

The Schreiadler Schorfheide project (LIFE10 NAT/DE/000012) was launched to rewet bogs by closing the drainage of wetland areas. Its aim is to improve the breeding and feeding habitats of the lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) corncrake (Crex crex) and the aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) in the SPA "Schorfheide-Chorin".


NCFF Introduction Webinar, save the date!


18 August 2015 The NCFF will be presented by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank during a live webinar on 3 September 2015. The NCFF finances pro-biodiversity and pro-climate change adaptation projects across Europe.

The webinar will among others provide you with information about:

  • The project categories which can benefit from NCFF financing;
  • The NCFF eligibility criteria;
  • The NCFF Support Facility;
  • The application process to access to NCFF financing.


Rare petrel released in Réunion

Photo:LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075

18 August 2015 An extremely rare bird, the focus of a LIFE project, has been released from a care centre on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. The Mascarene black petrel (Pseudobulweria aterrima), a species endemic to the island, had been taken into the centre for observation after it was grounded. The attraction of city lights is believed to be the reason that several young petrels, mostly Barau's petrel (Pterodroma baraui), have fallen to ground in recent months.

The care centre is run by the Société d'Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion, a partner in the ongoing project LIFE+ Petrels (LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075) that was launched to prevent the extinction of both species of petrel. Island residents were involved in the rescue of the grounded birds. The Mascarene black petrel was found in the town of Salazie by an islander (4 July) and brought to the centre to recover before being released six days later.

The Mascarene black petrel is one of rarest bird species in the world and is listed as being in critical danger of extinction by the IUCN. It was considered to have disappeared from Réunion for more than 70 years but was rediscovered in 1970. The recent grounding of an individual was the first since 2004.


LIFE information and networking event in Morocco


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

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


EWWR awards recognise six inspirational waste-reducing initiatives


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

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


Bulgarian LIFE project reduces threat to imperial eagle

Photo: LIFE12 NAT/BG/000572

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

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


MoorLIFE releases apps to increase moorland awareness

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

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

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

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


Conservation success for Iberian lynx

Photo: LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570

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


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


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

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

The 2015 FAQ is available here.

LIFE road project in Italy yields unexpected benefits

Photo: WWF Italia

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

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


Spanish R&D forum profiles LIFE environmental initiatives


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

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

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


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


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

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


LIFE VENENO NO project helps obtain illegal poisoning conviction

Photo: Agentes Rurales Quebrantahuesos

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

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


Spanish project presents findings on sustainable forestry and climate change

LIFE07 ENV/E/000824

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

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


LIFE and climate change report now available

NGO Compilation 2015

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

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


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

LIFE 3xEnvironment

3 July 2015On June 16, 2015, an awards ceremony took place in Warsaw, Poland, for the winners of the poster competition "Secondary crafts schools pupils for the environment". The competition was organised within the framework of the project LIFE/3xEnvironment/PL (LIFE12 INF/PL/000009).

The competition aimed to promote knowledge on good practices regarding reducing the use of natural resources in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) amongst secondary school pupils. Successful pupils were awarded prizes for posters they had created on this subject. The awards were presented by Mr Christian Strasser, deputy head of the LIFE unit, and two other EC representatives. A total of 112 posters were submitted from all over Poland. Attendees of the award ceremony also enjoyed presentations about the project, LIFE and other initiatives looking at environmental education regarding a reduction in the consumption of resources consumption.


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

NGO Compilation 2015

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


Mixed report for Europe's habitats and species

Image: EU publications

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

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

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


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

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278

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

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

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


PAFs: The way forward for Natura 2000 management

Natura 2000

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

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

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

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


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

Photo:M Robert Kneschke

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

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

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


IPENS publishes report on improving Natura 2000 sites in England

IPENS report

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

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

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


LIFE launches new report on supporting private land conservation

Alternative Ways to Support Private Land Conservation

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

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


Irish LIFE conservation site attracts royal visitor

Photo: Eamon Ward

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

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


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

LIFE 2015 Call

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

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

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

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


LIFE events during Green Week 2015

GreenWeek LOGO

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

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


Respecting Europe's natural heritage on Natura 2000 Day

Natura 2000 Day

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

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


Scottish volunteers stop theft of freshwater pearl mussels

 Freshwater Pearl Mussels

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

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

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


NCFF event indicates type of projects to be financed


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

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

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


Public consultation on birds and habitats directives

Birds and habitats directives

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

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


Innovative online seminar on wetland reconstruction opens

LIFE Albufera

08 May 2015The LIFE Albufera project (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000685) is running an innovative online seminar, entitled Constructed Wetlands: working with water for biodiversity. It  consists of a series of 11 videos featuring renowned international experts. The videos deal with different aspects of constructed wetlands management, including water, biodiversity and overall management issues and can be viewed on the project’s website, in English or Spanish.

Visitors to the online event are requested to provide feedback or ask questions by contacting the project’s communication manager:

The deadline for contributions is 24 May 2015. All of the information and answers will be published on the website and in the next edition of the LIFE project’s international newsletter.


LIFE project presents new methodology for retrofitting buildings

LIFE10 ENV/ES/000439

05 May 2015The NEWsolutions4OLDHousing (LIFE10 ENV/ES/000439) project presented details of its methodology for the sustainable retrofitting of social housing at the Fifth Buildings Meeting (V Encuentro-edificación), held in the School of Building Construction at the Polytechnic University of Madrid on 24-26 March 2015. The theme of the meeting was integration and reactivity: key concepts in the efficient rehabilitation of high-density residential housing. The event was broadcast online and was the subject of a virtual congress for several weeks afterwards. 

Roberto Díaz, from the LIFE project’s coordinating beneficiary AITEMIN, talked about technological innovation for the efficient use of resources and energy in housing rehabilitation. In particular, he outlined how the NEWsolutions4OLDHousing project has identified new technologies, products and building systems for the retrofitting of social housing, and has developed an online tool to quantify and classify the sustainability of actions for retrofitting buildings.


Proceedings of LIFE woodpeckers conference published in scientific journal

Woodpecker Conference

05 May 2015The foreword to the 7th International Woodpeckers Conference Proceedings was recently published in the scientific journal Acta Ornithologica and is now available to download online.  The conference, which was organised by the Spanish LIFE project PRO-lzki (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000572), was held in Vitoria-Gasteiz in February 2014, attracting 110 experts from Europe, America and Asia.

The international conference, Woodpeckers in a Changing World, featured 22 presentations and 21 posters. The publication of the best papers in an international journal recognises the scientific value of the conference and helps publicise the actions and results of the LIFE project.

The PRO-lzki project was launched to improve the conservation status of the vast Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) woodland of the Izki Natural Park, in the Basque Country, northern Spain. The project area is home to middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), one of several species benefiting from the conservation measures coordinated by the Provincial Council of Álava and the Hazi Foundation under the project.


Celebrity involvement raises LIFE project's profile in Slovakia

Dorota Nvotová

27 April 2015Dorota Nvotová has become the public face of the LIFE ENERGY project (LIFE13 NAT/SK/001272) in Slovakia. The famous actress and singer has participated in project actions, which aim to protect endangered bird species. A short film featuring her involvement, and explaining the project’s objectives, will be available to view online soon. Dorota Nvotová is associated with landscape and wildlife through her travelling, which includes leading hiking expeditions in Nepal.

The main objective of the LIFE ENERGY project is to reduce bird deaths due to collisions with electricity power lines in 13 Natura 2000 sites in Slovakia. The project is targetting 10 bird species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive, including the Eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus).  Power lines that are identified as the most dangerous to these birds will be fitted with flight diverters, which make them more visible. During the first seven months of the project, more than 8 000 km of power lines were surveyed by over 50 trained field experts. The survey will continue until February 2016.


Vote now for your favourite LIFE project

Vote now for your favourite LIFE project

24 April 2015 Each year the best LIFE projects are recognised at an award ceremony.

This year's event promises to be a little different as — for the first time ever — it will include two LIFE Community Awards.

Introducing the LIFE Community Awards

You are being asked to vote for your favourite environmental project and your favourite nature project, from the winners of the Best of the Best LIFE Projects 2014.

The Best of the Best are those judged to have been the most inspiring LIFE projects. They are meticulously selected by environmental experts according to rigorous criteria.

This year's Best of the Best winners have just been announced. In all, some 13 projects have been recognised as being particularly exemplary. Of these, eight fall under the environmental category and five under the nature category.

The public voting for the LIFE Community Awards is now open to everyone! Voting will end on 01/06/2015 at 23:00 Brussels time.


LIFE announces the Best Projects of 2014

Best Projects Logo

21 April 2015The most inspiring LIFE projects completed during 2014 will be honoured at a prestigious award ceremony taking place during EU Green Week in June 2015. And they can now be exclusively revealed online…  

In all, some 42 Best Projects have been selected across three categories: Environment; Nature; and Information & Communication. Of these, 13 are recognised as being particularly exemplary and will be awarded Best of the Best project status. The 42 outstanding projects come from 16 EU Member States. In this 10th year of the LIFE Best Project Awards they include the first winners from the Czech Republic and Malta.

In the Environment category, there are six Best of the Best projects and a further 16 Best projects. The Nature winners include four Best of the Best projects and nine Best projects. The seven outstanding Information & Communication projects consist of three Best of the Best projects, as well as four Best projects.

Below you will find the full list of the 13 Best of the Best winners. To find out more about all 42 winning projects check out the Best Projects section of the LIFE website.


Spreading the recycling message and changing behaviour

Up & Forward recycling

18 April 2015The LIFE project Up & Forward (LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389) recently held a closing seminar to present the results of all the individual awareness campaigns that were carried out across Greater Manchester to encourage residents to waste less and recycle more. The event attracted 95 attendees.

Up & Forward, which focussed on ‘hard-to-reach’ places, was led by Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) with the strong involvement of local communities.  

The project carried out awareness campaigns focussed on small target areas of 1 500 households. Since June 2013, 42 campaigns were carried out, each seeking to find a different solution to help residents recycle.


New handbooks on gypsum recovery in buildings

Gypsum Building Recovery

16 April 2015The LIFE project Gypsum to Gypsum (GtoG, LIFE11 ENV/BE/001039) has just published a European handbook on best practices in the deconstruction of gypsum-based systems and a handbook on best practices in audit prior to the deconstruction of buildings.

The project consortium designed the books to become standard guidelines for more eco-friendly deconstruction and ultimately to help achieve the goals of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC).

The publications describe in detail the results of deconstruction pilot projects conducted in Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK, and contrast the cost of deconstruction versus demolition. At the pilot sites, the project partners deconstructed a variety of buildings, identified materials and wastes to be removed and examined relevant deconstruction techniques.


WaterLIFE mobilises big response to River Basin Management Plan consultation


10 April 2015The WaterLIFE project (LIFE13 ENV/UK/000497) in England is successfully engaging with civil society groups and stimulating the public consultation foreseen by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) that will feed into the development of the second River Basin Management Plan (RBMP), foreseen by 2015.

Public consultation is a requirement of the WFD. The WaterLIFE project goes one step further by actively empowering civil society to engage with RBMP development. The project’s Save Our Waters website, set up in October 2014, enables communities across England to respond quickly and easily to the Environment Agency’s consultation on draft RMBPs.


Black vultures nesting again in southern Portugal

Black Vultures

09 April 2015Portuguese nature conservationists are celebrating the results of LIFE’s Habitat Lince Abutre project (LIFE08 NAT/P/000227), which is helping to establish the start of a new breeding colony for Eurasian black vultures (Aegypius monachus). Two pairs of this critically endangered bird species have set up home on nesting platforms provided by the LIFE project in Alentejo. It marks the return of breeding black vultures to southern Portugal after an absence of several decades.

Eggs have already been confirmed in one nest and another breeding pair is busy making preparations for what is expected to be an additional clutch of new vulture chicks. This first step towards re-establishing a breeding population of black vultures in Alentejo has been warmly welcomed by the LIFE project partners. They worked hard to create the necessary conditions to encourage re-colonisation of the species and the results of their endeavours represent an important milestone for black vulture conservation in Portugal.


LiveWell project supports a sustainable European food system

LiveWell Project

08 April 2015The LiveWell for LIFE project (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000173) has identified eight policy recommendations that they believe can greatly support the adoption of healthy, sustainable diets. This includes a recommendation for a supportive and cohesive policy environment and national and European levels and a request that, "governments put policy measures in place to support informed action for and monitoring of progress by all stakeholders." It also calls on existing stakeholder platforms at European level to swap best practices between Member States and other stakeholders.

The Commission has identified food as one of three key sectors for achieving a circular low-carbon economy in its Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ (COM (2011) 571). A subsequent public consultation in 2013 helped identify effective policy solutions. This fed into a draft strategy for ‘Building a sustainable European food system’ in 2014, but the corresponding communication has still to be adopted.


Commissioner Vella visits giant imperial eagle graffiti

Photo: Protection of Birds (BSPB)

07 April 2015On 24 March 2015, Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, visited the unique 25-metre high mural titled ‘Save the Imperial Eagle’, which is painted on the facade of the St. Kliment Ohridski School in Sofia, whilst on an official visit to Bulgaria.
The giant graffiti is the first of its kind in Bulgaria and was created in 2012 by the Bulgarian graffiti team 140ideas for the Best LIFE  and the 2014 Natura 2000 award winning LIFE project BSPB LIFE+ Save the Raptors (LIFE07 NAT/BG/000068).
"I congratulate you on the inspirational idea to create this beautiful mural and particularly for producing real results in the conservation of this endangered species," said Commissioner Vella during his meeting with the Bulgaria Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB). 


LIFE AIRUSE delivers project recommendations to DG Environment


20 March 2015 On 27 February 2015 representatives from all seven partners of the LIFE project AIRUSE (LIFE11 ENV/ES/000584) participated in a meeting with the European Commission in Brussels. The objective of the meeting was to provide an overview of the project results to DG Environment staff.

The AIRUSE project aims to develop and adapt cost-effective and appropriate measures to ensure better air quality in urban areas, with a particular focus on the cities of Porto, Barcelona, Milan, Florence and Athens. By identifying the most effective mitigation measures to reduce particulate matter levels to acceptable limits, it thus contributes to meeting current and future EU targets regarding air quality.


MoorLIFE project takes one billion steps to restore Europe's most degraded blanket bog

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

17 March 2015 Led by the Moors for the Future Partnership, the MoorLIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202) staged a well-attended closing conference in Halifax, Yorkshire (UK) earlier this month. Titled 'An integrated approach to upland biodiversity', the two-day conference (3-4 March 2015) highlighted some of the five-year project's impressive results, placing them in the context of landscape-scale efforts to restore Europe's most degraded active blanket bog, the South Pennine Moors Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Natura 2000 network site.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of Peak District National Park, one of Moors for the Future's partner organisations, said, “we’ve seen over the last 10 years the partnership really mature from projects through to programme level, spending £20 million." She also highlighted the value of LIFE's support for the restoration work.


LIFE 'super brain' plans future landscape-scale conservation

Photo Credit: Stephen Nottingham

10 March 2015 The final event of the Futurescapes (LIFE10 INF/UK/000189) project, held in Bristol, UK on 4-5 March 2015, was a workshop entitled, the future of landscape-scale conservation in Europe.  It was structured around interactive ‘super brain’ sessions to tackle the key challenges facing landscape-level conservation. LIFE project beneficiary, the RSPB, organised the event in partnership with the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and Bristol 2015 European Green Capital.

Two keynote speakers put the event  in context. Sir John Lawton, the Vice President of the RSPB and President of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, summarised the message of the Making space for nature review of England’s wildlife and ecological network that he chaired in 2010. He said landscape-level conservation is, “all about putting the mantra of that report – More, Bigger, Better and Joined – into practice.” By placing conservation efforts on a continuum, from the smallest reserves to the largest rewilding projects, it is clear that size matters in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of nature conservation. The review led to the establishment of 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) in the UK in 2012, to create joined-up and resilient networks at a landscape level.


New brochure highlights positive Natura 2000 experiences

Photo: LIFE11 INF/ES/000665

04 March 2015 In the framework of the LIFE project Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665), the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO)/BirdLife España has now published a brochure entitled Positive Natura 2000 Experiences.

Aiming to demonstrate the numerous benefits of the Natura 2000 network sites, of which there are over 2 000 in Spain and more than 27 000 all over Europe, the brochure features articles about Natura 2000 and sustainable agriculture, forestry, fisheries/marine farming, and tourism.  

“Natura 2000 is much more than nature reserves. It’s about people and nature, because it ensures that conservation and sustainable use go hand in hand with benefits to local citizens and the wider economy,” Pía Bucella, director of the Natural Capital Directorate in the European Commission’s DG Environment, writes in the introduction.


LIFE networking event held on raptor feeding platforms

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/IT/000316

03 March 2015 The LIFE project Monti della Tolfa (LIFE08 NAT/IT/000316) recently hosted a national networking workshop on issues relating to raptor feeding platforms, which attracted more 145 experts and policymakers.

Speakers shared their experiences and presented findings on the use of feeding platforms for raptors. Discussion focused on conservation and management techniques for improving the conservation status of birds of prey as well as the legal issues surrounding the supply of meat and the costs of management. The event featured presentations from five LIFE project beneficiaries as well as invited experts from similar Italian projects, the ministry of health and the national environmental research institute.


EU guidance features insight from LIFE project AgriClimateChange

Photo: LIFE09/ENV/ES/000441

02 March 2015 The positive impact of the AgriClimateChange (LIFE09/ENV/ES/000441) LIFE project continues to grow as it has now been included in a set of technical guidance notes from the European Commission.

Produced by the DG Climate Action for Member States’ rural development programme authorities, the recent publication Mainstreaming climate change into rural development policy post 2013 features much of the transnational knowhow developed with LIFE support by the AgriClimateChange partners.

The guidance aims to promote the design and integration of new and innovative climate operations. There are at least 16 references to the LIFE project’s practical tools to help farmers both mitigate the causes of climate change, as well as adapt their businesses to become more aligned with changing weather patterns.


EU acknowledges LIFE good practice in results-based rural development

LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125

26 February 2015 Ireland’s BurrenLIFE project (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000125) has produced innovations in results-based approaches to agri-environment action that have been highlighted as good practice by EU rural development authorities. This accolade comes from the first phase of a new initiative by the European Parliament and European Commission promoting wider uptake by Member States of results-based agri-environment payment schemes (RBAPS).

Whilst the LIFE programme has supported many projects that have fed into the development of management-based agri-environment schemes, the BurrenLIFE project is a pioneer of this new results-based approach to agri-environment payment. RBAPS differ from conventional agri-environment schemes because they focus their payments on recorded biodiversity results, rather than compensating for specific land management actions.


LIFE Berlengas spells out dangers of invasive alien plants

LIFE Berlengas

20 February 2015 With the start of the project LIFE Berlengas (LIFE13 NAT/PT/000458) in June 2014 the Portuguese Government and SPEA (BirdLife International Portugal) began work to ensure the sustainable management of the Berlengas archipelago, in particular its endemic flora and seabird population.

The group of islands is a popular tourist destination that lies 10 to 15 kilometres off the Portuguese coast, west of the town of Peniche and is a designated Natura 2000 network site. The main aim of the project is to establish a legally-binding management plan with clear, measurable actions and targets for archipelago.


LIFE thematic report on forests now online

Forest Report

18 February 2015 A new in-depth thematic report on LIFE and forests has just been published. Authored by An Bollen and Darline Velghe from the LIFE programme’s external monitoring team, the 118-page publication gives an insight into the diversity of LIFE+ forest projects, analyses revealing trends and evaluates their overall relevance to EU forest policy.

The Forest Thematic Report is intended to provide useful insights for EU decision- and policy-makers, to share lessons learned amongst project practitioners, to disseminate results more broadly, to showcase projects for future LIFE applicants, to account for spending of EU public funds and to raise awareness on new approaches.


New publication: LIFE and Climate change mitigation

LIFE and Climate change mitigation

17 February 2015 In anticipation of the award of the first action grants from the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action, the latest LIFE Environment Focus publication takes an in-depth look at LIFE's work till now in support of climate change mitigation.

The LIFE and Climate change mitigation brochure gives an overview of EU climate policy and provides a host of best practice examples from more than 200 featured projects from across the European Union.

With a foreword by EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, the 88-page publication includes interviews with representatives of DG Climate Action and with NGOs active in the field. These highlight the climate mitigation challenges ahead and LIFE's role in the transition to low-carbon agriculture.


Ground-breaking research about bird cooperation reported around Europe

LIFE and freshwater fish

16 February 2015 Migrating birds share the burden of leading the flock in v-formation flight to save energy, a part LIFE-funded study now published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has found.

The ground-breaking research, which was supported by the LIFE project Northern Bald Ibis - Reason for Hope - Reintroduction of Northern Bald Ibis in Europe, is generating huge public interest with the story being picked up by major media outlets across Europe and beyond, including the BBC, Spiegel, etc.

Following on from a paper on the reasons for v-formation flight in Nature in January 2014 (more information), an international team of researchers led by Oxford University scientists now provides evidence for ‘turn-taking’ reciprocal cooperative behaviour in birds, after studying 14 juvenile Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) migrating from Salzburg in Austria to Orbetello in Italy. Such cooperation contravenes the basic notion that evolution favours selfishness.


New publication: LIFE and freshwater fish

LIFE and freshwater fish

12 February 2015 The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a close look at the work LIFE projects have done to protect threatened freshwater fish species and improve their habitats. The 64-page brochure, LIFE and freshwater fish, highlights the status of key species and the threats they face, as well as providing an overview of LIFE's efforts to improve their conservation status, help in the management of the Natura 2000 network, and meet the targets set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

Since 1992, more than 135 LIFE projects have directly targeted over 50 threatened freshwater fish species listed in the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive or in the IUCN European Red List. Hundreds more projects have indirectly benefitted fish populations through restoration of river, lake and other habitats vital to the lifecycle of freshwater and migratory fish populations.


NGO brochures now available

NGO brochures

11 February 2015 Two new LIFE brochures are now available to access online. An achievements brochure outlines the broad range of activities funded by LIFE operating grants for NGOs in 2013, while the NGO compilation brochure overviews all the NGOs funded under this aspect of the LIFE programme in 2014.

Last year, 28 NGOs successfully applied to the European Commission for LIFE operational grants totalling around €9 million (19% of the total budget). These NGOs focus on a wide range of fields including nature and biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of resources, water quality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental education and awareness raising, clean transport and sustainable production, farming and food consumption.

The 2013 NGO achievements brochure highlights the specific achievements of four environmental NGOs covering different policy areas, namely: Carbon Disclosure Project, Health Care Without Harm, NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Slow Food. It gives short profiles of the NGOs and their environmental aims, outlining how the operational grants have enabled them to meet those goals in 2013.


Bulgarian raptors project wins good practice award

Photo: LIFE07/NAT/BG000068

09 February 2015 Work preventing bird electrocutions on power lines carried out by LIFE+ Save the Raptors (LIFE07/NAT/BG000068) has been recognised by the international Renewables-Grid-Initiative (RGI). The project beneficiary – the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB - BirdLife partner) – was presented with the good practice award, in the environmental protection category, at RGI’s annual conference, held in Brussels in January 2015. 

Accepting the award on behalf of the BSPB, Svetoslav Spasov, project manager said, “I am delighted that in two particular cases we were able to secure the over-head power lines and prevent the death of many eastern imperial eagles in Bulgaria and Egyptian vultures in Sudan. There’s a lot still to do though – for a permanent solution, we need active cooperation and partnership between state authorities, private electric companies and the nature conservation community.”


BiodivERsA to launch call for proposals in May


28 January 2015 The BiodivERsA ERA-Net has announced that it will launch a new call for pan-European biodiversity research proposals. The call, with an indicative global budget of roughly €30 million, is due to be launched in May 2015 with a closing date in early November 2015.
The call – co-funded by the European Commission – will cover two themes:

  • Theme 1: understanding and managing the biodiversity dynamics of soils and sediments to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services; and
  • Theme 2: understanding and managing biodiversity dynamics in land-, river- and seascapes (habitat connectivity, green and blue infrastructures, greening cities) to improve ecosystem functioning and delivery of ecosystem services.


LIFE supports financial instruments for energy efficiency and preservation of natural capital


27 January 2015 Today Commissioners Arias Cañete and Vella, the European Commission and EIB Vice-President for Environment and Climate Action Jonathan Taylor have launched two financial instruments funded through the LIFE Programme for Environment and Climate Action.

The Private Finance for Energy Efficiency Instrument (PF4EE) aims to address the limited access to adequate and affordable loan financing for energy efficiency projects targeted by schemes developed by EU Member States to implement their Nation Energy Efficiency Action Plans. The Commission has committed €80 million for 2014-17 anticipating an eightfold leverage effect. The PF4EE will combine lending from the EIB to intermediary banks in Member States with protection against losses associated with making loans for energy efficiency projects, and technical assistance aiming at increasing the technical capacity of the financial intermediaries. The beneficiaries could include SMEs, private individuals, small municipalities or other public sector bodies. The size of the energy efficiency loans to be provided to the final beneficiaries could range from €40 000 up to €5 million and higher in exceptional cases.


Top five LIFEnews stories of 2014


20 January 2015 LIFEnews, the monthly LIFE newsletter, covers themes that are of importance to European policy on the environment and nature conservation, as well as the LIFE programme itself. So what were the five most-read articles of 2014?

Let the countdown begin…

The fifth most-read article was published in February. The European Commission had recently adopted a new Clean Air Policy Package and our article focused on how LIFE can play a key role in helping Member States reach their objectives. Compliance with the package could be achieved by, “various funding instruments at European level, in particular the LIFE programme,” according to Scott Brockett of the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment.LIFE vital for EC's new Clean Air Package


New report on improving Natura 2000 awareness


19 January 2015 The European Commission has published a report following the LIFE Information and Communication (LIFE INF) platform meeting about raising awareness of Natura 2000, which was held in Kraków, Poland on 13-14 October 2014. The meeting allowed a range of nature projects from the information and communication strand of the LIFE programme to exchange experience and discuss ways of improving awareness and understanding of the Natura 2000 network.

The projects were presented in two sessions: the first assessed the impact of LIFE INF projects that sought to increase awareness of key stakeholder groups (such as farmers, local communities, public administrations and managers of protected areas) and ensure public involvement in the conservation of Natura 2000 areas; the second looked at the role of targeted information campaigns as a tool for resolving specific protection issues. The event concluded with workshops designed to share knowledge and to develop recommendations on how to best promote Natura 2000.


Finnish Saimaa Seal LIFE project wins biodiversity award

Photo:Mervi Kunnasranta/Metsähallitus

07 January 2015 The National IUCN Committee of Finland has awarded the Finnish Biodiversity Award 2013-2014 to the project Saimaa Seal LIFE (LIFE12 NAT/FI/000367). The project received the award specifically for one of its Actions (C2), which involved improving the breeding conditions of the Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) with man-made snowdrifts.

The action was necessary because the snow on Lake Saimaa was extremely thin during the winter of 2013/2014 and the snow mounds which the seal needs to reproduce did not form naturally. To solve this problem a large number of volunteers created 240 artificial snow mounds for the seals. Their hard work paid off: in spring 2014, some 59 seal pups were born in nests in the manmade mounds. “Without the help of the volunteers this work would not have been successful,” says Dr. Raisa Tiilikainen, project manager. The solution has caused quite a stir outside of Finland because it is seen as a new, simple and innovative way to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on seals.


Call for Ideas - Pilot / demonstration projects HORIZON 2020 - Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials

European Commission LOGO

06 January 2015 You are invited to participate in our new call for ideas! As part of the work programme 2016-2017 of the societal challenge 5 “Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials” (SC5) of the Horizon 2020 framework programme, the European Commission intends to open calls for large-scale pilot/demonstration projects in the areas of circular economy, nature-based solutions, climate services and water.

The present call for ideas for pilot/demonstration projects is intended to:

  • help identifying which research and innovation areas attract most interest from innovators and innovation users (e.g. industries, financial actors, academia, research and innovation players, private or public entities, regions, cities, citizens and their organisations…) and
  • stimulate developers and providers of innovative solutions to engage in projects of greater ambition in terms of scope, scale and impact.


Red-breasted goose links Bulgarian and Hungarian LIFE projects

Photo: Daniel Mitev

05 January 2015 A red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) recently observed in a mixed grazing flock of greater white-fronted goose and red-breasted goose at Nagy-szik in the Hortobágy National Park, Hungary, was identified thanks to a yellow plastic ring with which it had been marked in 2013 by the Bulgarian LIFE project Safe Ground for Redbreasts (LIFE09 NAT/BG/000230).

The observed individual was feeding at a site that was restored by the LIFE project, Sodic lake habitat restoration in the Hortobágy (LIFE07 NAT/H/000324). This site hosts large flocks of wintering geese, and through the network of goose experts across Europe, the site managers were able to inform the Bulgarian project team.

The Bulgarian LIFE project, which is being coordinated by BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, is carrying out land-management measures in the Dobrudzha region of northern Bulgaria to provide secure foraging grounds for the red-breasted goose – the most threatened goose species in the world.


FAO publication highlights LIFE-supported climate change mitigation

FAO publication

24 December 2014A recent FAO publication on climate change has referenced conservation measures carried out by two LIFE projects: a Swedish (LIFE08 NAT/S/000268) mire restoration project; and a German alkaline fen restoration project (LIFE08 NAT/D/000003).
The publication, Towards climate-responsible peatlands management, highlights the challenges facing the alkaline fens in Brandenburg and the actions undertaken by the LIFE project beneficiary, Naturschutzfonds Brandenburg to meet them. The project sites have been heavily drained and converted to arable land, but thanks to LIFE these areas are being restored through raising the water level and removing nutrients.
Grazing is another key restoration measure. “The project worked in collaboration with local farmers to establish pastures for Asian water buffalo and sheep. With proper grazing management, the livestock keep the growth of reed and other larger vegetation to a minimum,” the publication reports.

The project, which is set to end next year, has carried out measures on six sites, mowing  a total of 140 ha of reed, filling in 27 km of drainage ditches and cutting peat on an area of around 14 ha. Water buffalos are grazing on more than 30 hectares.

The restoration of fenland, and peatlands in general, is an effective climate-change mitigation measure, as several LIFE project are demonstrating. The ongoing Swedish project is an excellent example and one that will feature in a forthcoming LIFE brochure on climate change.


LIFE launches Natural Capital Financing Facility


23 December 2014The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed an agreement entrusting the EIB with the management of the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), the second of two new financial instruments under the LIFE Programme.

The NCFF will provide loans and investments in funds to support projects that promote the preservation of natural capital, including adaptation to climate change, within the EU-28.

The EIB will contribute a total budget for the Investment Facility of €100-125 million for 2014-2017. The European Commission will contribute €50 million as a guarantee for the investments, and €10 million for a support facility. Beneficiary companies and financial intermediaries will provide significant additional financing.


LIFE funding expansion to finance energy efficiency projects


19 December 2014An announcement on 9 December 2014 introduced a new financial instrument to operate under the LIFE Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes (2014-2020).  Agreed by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) instrument is dedicated to increasing private investment in energy efficiency projects. The instrument will support Member States' progress towards EU targets for energy efficiency.

The PF4EE instrument is to bridge the gap in affordable commercial financing for energy efficiency investment. It does this by making lending a more sustainable activity for European private sector financial institutions and by increasing the availability of debt financing. To this end, the Commission has committed €80 million for 2014-17 through the LIFE programme to fund credit risk protection and expert technical support services. Management of the PF4EE instrument is entrusted to the EIB and the bank has committed making a minimum of €480 million available for long-term financing.


The Best LIFE Environment projects 2013

Best LIFE Environment projects 2013

17 December 2014The Best LIFE Environment projects 2013 publication highlights exemplary environment projects, which received recognition at the LIFE Environment Awards. The projects, which were completed before the end of 2013, achieved outstanding results, demonstrating best practices and pioneering innovative solutions.

This year, the 10th consecutive year of the awards, was the first time that LIFE Information & Communication (LIFE INF) projects with an environmental focus were also recognised.

Four projects were awarded the ultimate accolade of being a ‘Best of the Best’ project, including one LIFE INF. In addition, a further 19 projects (including three LIFE INF) were recognised as ‘Best’ LIFE projects for their excellent work.

Presenting the awards, Dr Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency said: “The innovation that we find in many of these projects will be an inspiration for the European institutions and for Member States and for a number of other actors.”


The Best LIFE Nature projects 2013

The Best LIFE Nature projects 2013

16 December 2014The Best LIFE Nature projects 2013 publication highlights the exceptional achievements of nature conservation and restoration projects that were completed before the end of 2013.

The 6th edition of the annual awards ceremony for the winning projects was held in Brussels earlier this year. And for the first time, the achievements of LIFE Information & Communication (LIFE INF) projects with a nature focus were also recognised.

Four projects received the ultimate accolade (‘Best of the Best’ project), including a LIFE INF project in Greece. In addition, a further nine projects (including two from the LIFE INF strand) were recognised as ‘Best’ LIFE projects for their excellent work.

All 13 outstanding projects - drawn from nine Member States - are featured in this new publication. Together they demonstrate the significant contribution that the LIFE programme can make to nature conservation practice and policy.  


AgriClimateChange project wins prize at European web awards

eu Web Awards LOGO

08 December 2014The LIFE AgriClimateChange project (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000441) was awarded first prize for its website in the Better World category for environment-related projects at the .eu Web Awards on 19 November 2014.

“We are very honoured to have been awarded this prize. By recognising the work of the project team it inspires us to continue communicating the importance of a more sustainable European farming sector, which is essential if we are to achieve any significant improvements,” said Eduardo de Miguel, managing director at Fundación Global Nature and coordinator of the project.

He added that, “this is one of the reasons why communication and the effective dissemination of the project’s results play a key part in the project.”


LIFE BulPlantNet project receives award for successful biodiversity campaign

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/BG/000279

05 December 2014The LIFE project BulPlantNet (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000279) has won the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation's annual award for the most successful campaign for biodiversity conservation. The foundation handed out the awards in this and seven further categories during a ceremony in Sofia.

“The award is of great value to us, since it shows that our efforts have been highly appreciated by the broader public,” says BulPlantNet project coordinator Prof Dimitar Peev of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.


Natura 2000 Awards: call for entries now open!

Natura 2000 Awards logo

03 December 2014The call for applications for the second edition of the European Commission's Natura 2000 Awards is now open.

The Natura 2000 Awards celebrate and promote best practice in nature conservation. Specifically, the awards recognise excellence in the management and promotion of the Natura 2000 network.

The initiative is all about bringing the success of the Natura 2000 network to the public's attention and to demonstrate its importance in protecting natural heritage throughout Europe. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Brussels on Natura 2000 Day – 21 May 2015.

Natura 2000 works to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, and is the centrepiece of the EU's nature and biodiversity policy.


LIFE support ensures continuation of the Apennine chamois

Photo: LIFE09 NAT/IT/000183

27 November 2014The long conservation history of the Apennine chamois – a chamois subspecies (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) - received a welcome boost with the birth in May 2014 of five kids in the Sirente Velino Natural Park (PRSV) in Italy, a site from which the species had disappeared in the recent past. That the new arrivals appeared in the first birthing season following animal release is a good omen for the long-term conservation of the subspecies.

The newborns mark a successful conclusion to the LIFE COORNATA project (LIFE09 NAT/IT/000183). The initiative builds on two previous LIFE Nature projects that also build on a long-standing conservation tradition. In fact the species recovery efforts can be traced all the way back to 1918.

At the end of the First World War, only 30 individuals of the Apennine chamois survived in a restricted area of the central Apennines. Today more than 2000 individuals live in 5 populations in the main parks of the central Apennines: Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park (PNALM), Majella National Park (PNM), Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park (PNGSL), Monti Sibillini National Park (PNMS) and Sirente Velino Natural Park (PRSV).


New publication: LIFE and invasive alien species

LIFE and invasive alien species

25 November 2014The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a timely look at one of the greatest threats to Europe's biodiversity, ecosystem services, human health and economic activities. The 76-page LIFE and invasive alien species brochure links the work of LIFE projects with the aims of the new EU Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation.

There are an estimated 1200-1800 IAS in Europe and the impact of such species is of growing concern. The LIFE programme has been addressing the problems posed by invasive alien species for more than two decades. Indeed, in that time some 265 LIFE projects have included measures to deal with IAS, ranging from steps to prevent their spread to control and eradication actions in places where invasive alien species are already present and having a negative impact on native species and habitats. LIFE also provides a deep well of learning on trans-border cooperation, dissemination and awareness-raising efforts with regards to IAS.

This new brochure examines the lessons learned from the LIFE programme's extensive experience of dealing with the impacts of IAS. As such it is essential reading for policymakers and practitioners in this field.


Vulture from Bulgarian LIFE project found in Jordan

(Photo: LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278)

24 November 2014 The LIFE project VULTURES' RETURN (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278) has discovered that a young vulture released in Bulgaria has managed to travel as far as Jordan. It is the first time that a released vulture has been tracked at such a distance. The story came to light when a Bedouin man, who had trapped the live bird close to the village of Jafir, called the Bulgarian phone number written on the bird's wing tag to ask for a reward.

After the initial contact had been cut short due to communication difficulties, the project partners mobilised colleagues from Jordan, Israel, and Germany. They found out that the man had caught a young male specimen which had originally been ringed, tagged, and released in Bulgaria in September 2014. However, when the local Jordanian police located the trapper, he claimed that he had re-released the bird.


LIFE project documentary on the Greater Horseshoe Bat wins grand prize

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/F/000473

20 November 2014The project LIFE Chiro Med (LIFE08 NAT/F/000473) recently won first prize at the international ornithological film festival, held in France, for their documentary film entitled, The Life of the Greater Horseshoe Bat. The film, directed by Tanguy Stoecklé and produced by the Groupe Chiroptères de Provence, is about a colony of the rare greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) that live in the Camargue Natural Regional Park, France.

The greater horseshoe bat is one of the most amazing and mysterious bats in Europe. The film gives an insight into the life a young female bat and its mother and takes viewers on a thrilling but challenging journey.


Scientific journal publishes results of LIFE project on insect song

image:LIFE08 NAT/GR/000539

12 November 2014Researchers from the AMIBIO project (LIFE08 NAT/GR/000539) have established a song library for orthopteran insects that facilitates automated species recognition in the Mediterranean. Their work has now been published in the Journal of Insect Conservation (October 2014, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 909-925).

Orthoptera is an order of insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, and other species, many of whom produce sound (known as stridulation). The AMBIO project identified 20 different species on Hymettus Mountain in Athens. Hymettus Mountain is a Natura 2000 network site where AMBIO installed an innovative acoustic biodiversity monitoring system to collect sounds produced by the local insects, birds, mammals, and amphibians.


Bulgarian LIFE experts help convict egg collector

image: BSPB

12 November 2014An English egg collector has been convicted in Bulgaria for the plundering of eggs of rare and endangered bird species. Jan Frederick Ross was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for three years, and a BGN 5000 (€ 2500) fine after pleading guilty to the illegal possession of 16 bird eggs and 3 taxidermy specimens.

Central to his conviction in October was the testimony of experts from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) who are involved in the LIFE  projects, LIFE for Eagles Forest (LIFE12 NAT/BG/001218) and Return of the Neophronria and Greece’ (LIFE10 NAT/BG/000152). The egg-collecting conviction, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, followed a lengthy investigation carried out by the BSPB, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)/ BirdLife UK and the Bulgarian police.


LIFE project produces award winning films about saving the Danube sturgeon

(LIFE11 INF/AT/000902

07 November 2014The LIFE project Saving Danube Sturgeons (LIFE11 INF/AT/000902) has produced and published award-winning videos on the plight of the highly endangered species the Danube sturgeon. In Bulgaria the films were broadcast by several TV stations, including the national television channel. The project teams in Bulgaria and Romania also used the films in a web and information campaign about the sturgeon. The videos were directed by Dragomir Sholev, one of best young Bulgarian directors, and the TV campaign "The Invisible Fish", won bronze in the prestigious FARA 2014 advertising awards in Bulgaria.


LIFE+ Hyper Bus outperforms targets

Copyright Kristian Pohl/Government Offices of Sweden;

03 November 2014The results of the ambitious Swedish electro mobility project, LIFE+ Hyper Bus (LIFE10 ENV/SE/000041) have surpassed expectation. This public-private sector collaboration has developed and trialled three new plug-in hybrid buses with fast-charging batteries in Gothenburg.

It was the first time that the vehicles were tested in regular service. As a measure of the international interest in the project – in September 2013, the technology behind the Hyper Bus was showcased to US President Barack Obama during his visit to Sweden.


Austrian LIFE project wins International RiverFoundation award

Photo:Astrid Knie / Wiener Wasser

03 November 2014The achievements of Murerleben (LIFE08 NAT/A/000614) have been recognised by the Australian-based International RiverFoundation (IRF), which has awarded the LIFE project a prestigious River Prize.

The IRF rewards outstanding sustainable management projects that benefit the world's rivers, lakes and wetlands. Its flagship programme comprises the Thiess International, the Australian and the European River Prizes. Although the International prize was founded in 1999, the European River Prize was first awarded in 2013. This prize is administered from the IRF Europe office in Vienna and is judged by a panel of European experts, with the winner receiving an elegant trophy and €25 000 thanks to sponsorship by Coca-Cola Europe.

The LIFE Murerleben project won the award for restoring, maintaining and improving the landscapes of the upper Mur River in Styria (Austria). The upper Mur had become badly degraded due to river channelling, which causes a reduction in river dynamics and a loss of habitats, and the construction of weirs and hydropower stations that disrupt river continuity.


LIFE project teams up with Jane Goodall to reintroduce migratory bird species

Photo:Waldrappteam and Parco Natura Viva

27 October 2014 Jane Goodall, the eminent primatologist and UN messenger of peace, joined the LIFE project ‘LIFE Northern Bald Ibis – Reason for Hope’ (LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143) and representatives from two Italian hunting associations, to sign a pioneering agreement on 12 October 2014 that supports the sustainable reintroduction of migratory northern bald ibis or waldrapp (Geronticus eremita) in Europe. Crucially, the signatories agreed to protect this and other endangered migratory bird species from illegal hunting in Italy.

The signing of the agreement took place during a ceremony held at the Parco Natura Vivia (Bussolengo, Italy). The Italian park, one of the nine LIFE project partners, plays an important role within the campaign against illegal hunting in Italy. At the signing ceremony, Dr Goodall awarded honorary patronages to representatives of the two Italian hunting associations and also to ten school groups, who all adopted individual birds.


2014 Call for LIFE Action Grants: deadline for submission extented

EU Flags

16 October 2014 The deadline for submitting "Traditional" Projects has officially been extented until Friday 24th October 2014 at 16:00 Brussels local time instead of 16th October.



DG Environment and LIFE programme at IUCN World Parks Congress

2014 IUCN World Parks Congress

06 October 2014 DG Environment and the LIFE programme will be present at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia next month (12-19 November). The DG Environment stand will include an area showcasing LIFE project videos and other programme achievements.

All LIFE projects also are invited to participate in the Saved Nature Photography Competition that will be running throughout the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress (entrants need not be present at the congress). To enter, click here.

Held every 10 years, The IUCN World Parks Congress is a landmark global forum that is designed to set the agenda for the conservation of protected areas for the coming decade. Based around the theme, "Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions", the 2014 congress seeks to present, discuss and create original approaches for conservation and development. It also will mark the launch of the Standard for the IUCN Green List of Protected  Areas and the criteria for Key Biodiversity Areas, both of which are closely linked to the EU policy agenda in this field.


Marine thematic report


30 September 2014 The LIFE Monitoring Team has published a thematic report on marine-related LIFE projects. Subtitled ‘The future of Europe’s seas’, the 116-page study analyses the LIFE programme’s contribution to protecting and improving the marine environment.

Previous studies have analysed LIFE’s impact on the water sector, noise and air and soil.

The principal objectives of the Marine Thematic Report were as follows:

  • To review current marine-related legislation;
  • To review all marine-related LIFE projects to examine trends and the costs of implementation (both total and EU contributions);
  • To review selected projects relating to the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and associated Programmes of Measures (POMs), using SWOT analysis;
  • To review selected projects that provide new solutions and best practice for implementation of EU legislation and policy in the most efficient way and a high potential for transferability within the EU; and
  • To understand the relevance of project approaches, including factors for failure or success of certain approaches.


Swedish project concludes with major stream restoration conference

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/S/000266

26 September 2014 The Vindel River LIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/S/000266) has concluded by staging an international conference on stream restoration entitled ‘Reviving waters’. The three-day event, which was held in Lycksele, Sweden from 22-24 September 2014, gathered 104 attendees from seven EU Member States for some 30 presentations, a poster session and a field trip to project sites.

Speakers included academic researchers and river restoration practitioners drawn from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ireland and the UK. LIFE projects represented included MulkearLIFE in Ireland (LIFE07 NAT/IRL/000342), LIVEDRAVA in Slovenia (LIFE11 NAT/SI/000882), UC4LIFE (LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046) and ReMiBar (LIFE10 NAT/SE/000045) in Sweden and the UK project, RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032). There was also a presentation on the preparation of Finland’s first proposal for an Integrated Project (on freshwaters), a new category of LIFE project introduced this year.


LIFE+ Up and Forward unveils new recycling films & seminar

Photo:LIFE11 ENV/000389

25 September 2014 Greater Manchester-based (UK) recycling project, LIFE+ UP and Forward has added three more films to its awareness raising campaign to persuade hard to reach communities to recycle more of their household rubbish. The project, which runs until June 2015, has also held its first seminar – attracting professionals in the field of recycling from across the UK. The films, produced by students at the University of Bolton with the help of production company Bellyfeel, target inner-city areas of Greater Manchester (North West England) that are traditionally low-performing in terms of recycling.

The first film, “The Recycler” is a comedy drama about a woman who is confused about her household recycling until a local ‘ambassador’ comes to her ‘rescue’ in the style of an action film. The second film, “Beat the Bin Men” is about a fun recycling game for local residents and depicts people floundering around in gunge and enjoying inflatable obstacle courses. The third film, “Golden Ticket” shows the awarding of a prize for community recycling to a local school.



AFM technology reaches final of 2014 EBAE awards

European Business Awards for the Environment

15 September 2014 Dryden Aqua has been announced as one of 12 UK finalists for the 2014 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). Presented by the European Commission every two years, the EBAE recognise and reward European companies that set an example by successfully bringing together innovation, economic viability and environmental concerns.
A Scotland-based SME, Dryden Aqua is one of only four UK finalists for the product & service category, where it is competing with its Activated Filter Media (AFM) technology. AFM is a chemically-altered filtration medium manufactured from recovered green container glass that was developed with the assistance of the LIFE 'AFM' project (LIFE02 ENV/UK/000146), which ran from 2002 to 2005. LIFE co-finance helped establish that AFM could remove at least 30% more unwanted solids and dissolved pollutants from drinking water compared to high quality silica sand and that it could improve the performance of most drinking water treatment systems and reduce the incidence of disease, whilst also delivering substantial operational costs and carbon savings. 


Animated video communicates the value of marine strategy

Illustration: LIFE11 ENV/UK/000392

11 September 2014 The LIFE Environment project CSP (Celtic Seas Partnership - LIFE11 ENV/UK/000392) has produced a short animation to help explain how the EU is protecting its marine environment.
The three-minute video, which has been posted on the Commission’s DG Environment Facebook page, explains the goals of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Celtic Seas Partnership project. The LIFE project is bringing together sea users, industry, governments and the scientific community across the Celtic Seas - an OSPAR-defined region of the North-East Atlantic that includes the Celtic Sea, Bristol Channel, Irish Sea and parts of the Atlantic Ocean - in order to find ways of achieving healthy and sustainable seas.

In 2008, the EU introduced the MSFD to protect and manage our seas and oceans in a sustainable way. The LIFE project is “supporting the delivery” of the directive, says Dr Lyndsey Dodds, the project manager. “[It is] working to put the people that use the sea at the heart of management and offer them the opportunity to influence how their marine environment will be managed in the years to come,” she says.


LIFE+ CLIMATE closes with touch of humour

Illustrations by Jean-Claude Pertuzé

05 September 2014 A final conference organised to mark the closure of the European LIFE+ ENV project CLIMATE (LIFE09 ENV/FR/000598) was held earlier this summer in the French department of Essonne. While tackling the serious matter of how to assist French and European regions to better adapt to climate change events (e.g. droughts, floods and hail storms) the event also brought a touch of humour to the proceedings through a series of climate change-themed cartoon drawings.

The overall objective of the 2010-14 project,  “CLIMATE - Changing Living Modes: Acting in our Territory for the Environment” was to stimulate a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Essonne department – and subsequently in other regions – through a series of measures organised around five main areas of work. These included the development of eco-business activities, encouraging the use of sustainable house design technologies, stimulating the adoption of alternatives to single vehicle usage, combating energy shortages and reducing internal emissions of GHGs by the local council (Conseil general de l’Essonne), the project beneficiary.



New publication highlights LIFE's impact on air quality

New publication out! LIFE and Air quality

04 September 2014 The latest LIFE Focus publication highlights the work of the LIFE programme in tackling threats to Europe's air. Titled LIFE and air quality, the 72-page brochure focuses on LIFE's role in helping to effectively and cost-effectively implement the extensive body of EU policy instruments relating to air.  

The publication includes an insightful introduction to the topic, including interviews with an air quality expert from the European Environment Agency and one of the participants in a pioneering pilot exercise designed to help European cities better implement EU air policy.

Thematic chapters look at LIFE's contribution to air quality across a number of key sectors: transport and urban mobility; monitoring and modelling; capacity building; encouraging behavioural change; agriculture; and industry, waste and energy This programme-level analysis is supported by specific project examples from across the EU, including in-depth case studies that can serve as an inspiration to policy-makers and project leaders, farmers and enterprises, organisations and citizens throughout Europe.


Call for proposals for LIFE operating grants


03 September 2014The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) invites non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of environment and/or climate action to present proposals for the LIFE operating grants. These grants cover certain administrative and operational costs for the financial year 2015.

The objective of the call is to promote better environmental and/or climate governance by broadening the involvement of stakeholders, including NGOs, in policy consultation and implementation. The expected result is to support the strengthening of civil society participation in the dialogue process of environmental and/or climate policy development and implementation.


LIFE inspires huge increase in Spain's protected maritime areas

Photo:LIFE07 NAT/E/000732

02 September 2014The Spanish Government has created 39 new protected areas for birds in the marine environment based on the work of two Spanish LIFE projects: Marine IBAs (Important Bird Areas for Seabirds) (LIFE04 NAT/ES/000049); and INDEMARES (LIFE07 NAT/E/000732). The new designations have multiplied by 20 the protected area for seabirds in Spain, which now covers almost 50 000 km2.

The 39 sites have been designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the EU’s Birds Directive and brought into the Natura 2000 Network. Their formal approval has been the culmination of 10 years’ work under the two LIFE projects. The Marine IBAs project (2004-2009) created a standard methodology to identify marine IBAs and conducted a detailed inventory, leading to an initial proposal of new marine SPAs for Spain.


Report published on LIFE Platform Meeting on Urban Resilience

Report on Urban Resilience

05 August 2014The European Commission has published the report from the LIFE Platform Meeting ‘Urban Resilience: LIFE+ projects and European policies’. This meeting, held in Colombes, France, on 4-5 April 2014, provided the platform for discussions on urban resilience challenges, the sharing of experiences from completed and on-going LIFE projects, and the opportunity for experts to make recommendations on how the LIFE programme can best support future projects in this area.

Urban resilience is defined as the ability of an urban territory or community to resist, absorb, accommodate and recover from hazards, such as natural disasters, the impacts of climate change and poverty. A resilient approach addresses, for example, reducing the environmental impacts of pollution and waste, mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change, and solutions to economic and social issues.

During presentation and workshop sessions, the Platform Meeting focused on three thematic areas: resilient infrastructure and urban planning; waste management, recycling and re-use; and natural resource management and renewable energy production. There was an emphasis on common methods and tools used in these different areas.


Scandinavian Platform Meeting demonstrates LIFE's contribution to nature conservation

LIFE Scandinavian Platform Meeting

30 July 2014The LIFE Scandinavian Platform Meeting was successfully held on 10-12 June in 2014 in Rovaniemi (Finland). The general objective of this annual meeting is to help LIFE Nature projects in Finland, Denmark and Sweden contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation. Three projects co-organised the meeting: Return of Rural Wetlands (LIFE09 NAT/FI/000563), Boreal Peatland Life (LIFE08 NAT/FIN/000596) and NATNET (LIFE10 NAT/FI/000047).

A total of 73 participants took part, representing the European Commission and a range of LIFE projects. On the first day, at the Hotel Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, Arnoud Heeres (Programme Manager LIFE Nature, European Commission) outlined the new Life Programme 2014-2020; Lucie Trokanova (LIFE Communications Team) explained how LIFE projects can effectively communicate their results; and Bent Jepsen (Astrale) described the role of the External Monitoring Team.


New report on climate change adaptation and mitigation Platform Meeting

Climate change report

22 July 2014The European Commission has published a report on the LIFE Platform Meeting ‘Climate change - ecosystem services approach for adaptation and mitigation’, which was held in Norwich, UK, on 14-15 May 2014.

Current and past LIFE projects came together at the event to share their experiences on developing responses to the predicted impacts of climate change across EU Member States. Another aim of the meeting was to look at the opportunities to attract funding for mitigation and adaptation projects in the LIFE multi-annual work programme for 2014-2017.

Nature conservation bodies were encouraged to seize the opportunities available to develop new partnerships through the climate action sub-programme and Integrated Projects, as well as continuing with the traditional project approach.


Success for Strasbourg's Rohrschollen Island flooding

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/F/000471

18 July 2014The first large-scale testing of a new floodgate, favouring the flooding and restoration of the river dynamics of valuable Rhine habitats on Rohrschollen Island (Strasbourg) has been successfully carried out by the LIFE Rohrschollen Island project (LIFE08 NAT/F/000471).

The testing of the floodgate was carried out on 17 June 2014, at a special event organised by the city of Strasbourg – the project beneficiary. The ongoing project is working to reproduce, through hydrological works, the island's natural flood dynamics, before this part of the Rhine was modified by dams and dikes.

This first flooding was carried out in the presence of the deputy mayor, responsible for sustainable development, and the regional representative of the EDF (the national electricity provider).


Rare falcon returns to Slovakia

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

03 July 2014A pair of red-footed falcons (Falco vespertinus) have been discovered near Trnava, Slovakia, the first to be seen in this area for 40 years. The species, which was the focus of a recent LIFE project and is the target of an ongoing one, is close to extinction in Slovakia. Only two pairs were previously known to inhabit the country.

The main EU population of the red-footed falcon is found in the Pannonian lowlands. The raptor favours steppe-type habitats with extensive agriculture and low tree coverage. MME Birdlife Hungary carried out conservation actions in favour of the falcon in Hungary and Romania under the LIFE project, F.VESPERTINUS-HU/RO (LIFE05/NAT/HU/000122). It created thousands of artificial nesting sites and a special agro-environmental scheme for the conservation of feeding habitats. As a result of the project, the Hungarian population increased from 600 to 1 200 breeding pairs.


Annual Compilations of new LIFE projects published

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

30 June 2014The Annual Compilations of new LIFE+ projects are now online. From the 2013 call for proposals, the European Commission has selected 125 projects for co-funding under the Environment Policy & Governance strand; 92 projects under LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity strand of the programme; and eight new environmental awareness projects in six countries under LIFE+ Information & Communication.

The Environment Policy & Governance strand supports pilot projects that contribute to the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. Total investment in this strand will come to €318.5 million, of which the EU will provide €130.8 million.

The LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity projects, which aim to improve the conservation status of endangered species and habitats, are carried out by partnerships of conservation bodies, government authorities and other parties located across 25 Member States. In total, they represent an investment of €233.9 million, of which the EU will contribute €133.9 million.


Spanish LIFE project wins Regional Environment Award

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

24 June 2014The Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon has awarded its 2014 Prize for the Environment to the LIFE+ project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431). The project, run by the local authority (Comarca) of Los Monegros, won the prize in the ‘Local Government’ category at the 16th annual awards ceremony held in Zaragoza on 5 June 2014, World Environment Day.

CREAMAgua created wetlands and riverbank forests to act as natural filters to reduce the run-off of inorganic nutrients - nitrates and phosphates - and salts from agricultural land into rivers. It was led by the local authority, but worked actively with local farmers in the management of the wetland areas.


EC launches platform for resolving human-large carnivore conflicts

Photo: LIFE02 TCY/CRO/014

20 June 2014Populations of brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), wolverine (Gulo gulo) and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are stabilising or increasing in EU Member States, after a long period of decline. Improved protection in Natura 2000 network sites and greater public awareness of nature conservation has enabled these large carnivores to return to areas from which they have long been absent. However, this can bring them into increasing conflict with human activities. Over 70 LIFE projects have focused on large carnivores and many of these have involved conflict reduction measures, as described in the LIFE Focus publication ‘LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores’.

The European Commission launched the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores on 10 June 2014, to help solve at a European level the social and economic problems that can sometimes result from an increase in large carnivore numbers.


New arrival in yelkouan nest box

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090

19 June 2014Following an earlier success (reported in May 2014) on the website of the LIFE+ MALTA SEABIRD PROJECT (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090) - of a first occupant of an artificial nest box by a yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) - the LIFE team has just revealed the arrival of a “fluffy, fast growing chick”. A delighted spokesperson says: “This is Malta’s first chick to hatch and grow inside an artificial nest.” During the day, the LIFE team explains, the parents already leave the chick alone – returning to feed it with “regurgitated squid and fish” during the night.

More successful seabird nest news is expected as the 2011-2016 project progresses, especially as the project team is being supported by a rat eradication programme, which is being run in the species’ main breeding colony, on the isle of Rdum tal-Madonna. Rats are an invasive species to the Maltese isles and as the yelkouan lays just one egg per year, rat predation on their eggs and chicks is a major threat.


2014 Call for LIFE Action Grants now open!

LIFE 2014 Call

18 June 2014The first call for action grants for the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action (2014-2020) is now open. For further information, application forms and guidance documents go directly to the call page.

The Commission invites legal persons (entities) registered in the European Union (EU) to present proposals for the 2014 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants. The call covers proposals for both LIFE sub-programmes.

For the sub-programme for Environment, this call will cover action grants "Traditional" projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Capacity Building projects. For the sub-programme for Climate Action, this call will cover action grants only for "Traditional" projects and Capacity Building projects (the other types will be covered from 2015 onwards).

Proposals may be submitted by legal persons (entities) registered in the EU. Applicants may fall into three types of beneficiaries: (1) public bodies, (2) private commercial organisations and (3) private non-commercial organisations (including NGOs).


Hungarian LIFE projects host International conference on conservation in military areas

conference on conservation in military areas

10 June 2014An international conference on nature in military areas was recently held in Veszprém, Hungary under the framework of two LIFE projects, the Hungarian Little Plain project (LIFE08 NAT/H/000289) and the Eastern Bakony project (LIFE07 NAT/H/000321).

The event, which highlighted good examples of habitat protection in areas used by military forces, brought together 99 participants from 13 countries for a three-day conference in the historic town of Veszprém (14-16 May 2014). 

The use of protected areas by the military is common practice in many countries in Europe, and conservation experts face similar challenges: illegal waste disposal, the spread of invasive species, rehabilitation of degraded habitats and the demolition of abandoned military buildings. Exchange of information and best practices is thus vital, and the conference underlined the importance of communication.

The conference featured more than 20 case studies. Biologists, ecologists and environmental experts gave presentations on nature conservation and rehabilitation of sand land habitats, whilst representatives of defence ministries and NATO were invited to address the military aspects of land management.


Exemplary LIFE projects support transition to a circular economy


06 June 2014The Best LIFE Environment projects and Best LIFE Information and Communication projects addressing environmental themes completed in 2013 were recognised at an award ceremony in Brussels on 4 June. The ceremony took place alongside the annual EU Green Week, which this year was on the theme, “Circular economy – saving resources, creating jobs”.

Following an introduction from Timo Mäkelä, Director of Global and Regional Challenges and LIFE, DG Environment, European Commission, the awards were presented by Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA). In his keynote address, Dr Bruyninckx said that, “Many of the issues that have been tackled in LIFE projects have found their way into [the EEA’s] reporting and our knowledge base, so we have a keen interest in the work that all of you have been doing.”

He added that many LIFE projects, “Also have a close connection to the theme of this Green Week. When we look at sustainability futures in Europe we are framing them increasingly under three broad categories which are embedded in the 7th Environmental Action Programme, the climate and energy package and a number of other policy initiatives – the low carbon society; economic resilience; and the circular economy.”


UK project launches web tool for compost and recycled aggregate producers


02 June 2014The UK LIFE project EQual (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000176), has launched its first online resource, the Quality Protocol (QP) Checker web tool for compost and recycled aggregates.

Launched at the Organics Recycling Conference 2014, the tool provides an easy, step-by-step guide for producers to assess whether their product meets the requirements of the relevant QP and has achieved End-of Waste (EoW) status.

The online tool, which was developed in close cooperation with the Organics Recycling Group (ORG), one of the project partners, is designed to help users to understand and apply QP procedures. It creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints areas where improvement is needed. It can also be used as an internal audit check for established QP-compliant producers and provides a template for regulatory enforcement officers to support more consistent compliance-assessment procedures.


Actions of LIFE projects honoured at first Natura 2000 awards


23 May 2014The actions of three LIFE projects were among the winners at the inaugural ‘European Natura 2000 Award’ at a ceremony held on 21 May 2014 at the Berlaymont building in Brussels.

The awards have been set up to increase recognition of the best achievements related to management of Natura 2000 network sites across the EU. In many cases these actions have taken place within the context of projects co-funded by the LIFE programme.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment presented the awards. Among the five winners were a Bulgarian LIFE project that is targeting the imperial eagle (LIFE07 NAT/BG/000068), winner in the ‘Conservation’ category, the Belgian project, 3Water (LIFE08 NAT/B/000036), which won the award for ‘Reconciling Interests/Perceptions’ and the Romanian project, STIPA (LIFE09 NAT/RO/000618), victor in the ‘Socio-economic benefits’ category.

A total of 163 nature conservation actions in Natura 2000 sites from across Europe, including a high number of LIFE funded ones, made applications from which a panel of distinguished judges drew up a shortlist of 20 Natura 2000 sites, divided into five distinct categories.


Platform Meeting reviews LIFE's contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation

LIFE Platform Meeting

22 May 2014The LIFE Platform Meeting ‘Climate change- ecosystem services approach for adaptation and mitigation’ was successfully held in Norwich, England, on 14-15 May 2014. The event was co-hosted by Futurescapes (LIFE10 INF/UK/000189), a project led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) that promotes landscape-scale conservation, and IPENS (LIFE11 NAT/UK/000384), which is developing an improvement programme for England's Natura 2000 Sites.

A total of 43 people attended the meeting, including representatives from 26 LIFE projects in nine EU Member States, along with government and statutory body representatives from the UK. In addition to the 15 LIFE project presentations at the meeting, other projects contributed during three field excursions.


Today is Natura 2000 Day

NATURA 2000 Day

21 May 2014Natura 2000 Day is being celebrated today [21 May] all around Europe. Leading up to Natura 2000 Day people have been making small gestures of support, in the form of photographs of themselves with their hands in the shape of a butterfly. These have been uploaded on the Natura 2000 Day website and via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (tagged #Natura2000Day).

Just like the proverbial flapping of a butterfly's wings, even the smallest gestures can have great power. The aim is to spread awareness of the important role played by the largest network of protected sites in the world. The Natura 2000 network comprises over 26 000 sites, in which Europe's rich variety of natural habitats and species are protected.


Sustainable food shopping debate launched

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046

19 May 2014Debating Europe and the LIFE project LiveWell for LIFE have launched their third and final of its series of online debates on sustainable consumption, ‘Are YOU prepared to change your shopping list in order to eat more sustainably?’.

The organisers welcome comments from all citizens, who can contribute their ideas here. The ongoing debate addresses the problem of food waste in the EU, where studies have shown that 90 million tonnes of food are being wasted annually.

Moreover, food accounts for 29% of all consumption-derived greenhouse gas emissions. Given the enormous environmental and public health impact of our dinner tables, what can be done to make food consumption and production more efficient and sustainable?


LIFE project opens exhibition on the thick shelled river mussel

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046

14 May 2014An exhibition entitled “The magic world of the unio crassus” was opened on 22 April in Christinehof Castle, Brösarp, Sweden. The exhibit has been put together within the framework of the LIFE Nature project UC4LIFE(LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046). It explores the life of the thick shelled river mussel (Unio crassus) and work done by the LIFE project at Fyleån Creek in the Fyledalen Valley area – one of 12 sites where the project is taking place.

Many thick shelled river mussel populations have become extinct in Sweden. Those populations that still exist have a fragmented distribution in south-eastern Scandinavia (around 140 sites) and are endangered by adverse physical changes to their favoured habitat. UC4LIFE aims to improve the water quality, restore depressed riverine habitats and reintroduce Unio crassus where it has become extinct through site specific restoration measures in 12 different locations in Sweden.


Vote with your hands for Natura 2000

Natura 2000 Day

13 May 2014 Natura 2000 Day will again be celebrated on 21 May, one year after it was first initiated in Spain by the LIFE Information and Communication project Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665).

The LIFE project, led by SEO/BirdLife and the EFE Agency, addresses the need for a greater appreciation of the objectives and maintenance needs of the European Natura 2000 network of protected areas. It aims to give citizens a better understanding of the ecosystem services provided by these areas, and knowledge to enhance their enjoyment of Europe's natural heritage. As part of this aim, the LIFE project plans to make Natura 2000 Day an annual European-wide event.


LIFE+: European Commission provides €282.6 million for 225 new environment and climate projects


30 April 2014 The European Commission has today approved funding for 225 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union's environment fund. The projects selected were submitted by beneficiaries in all 28 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across the EU. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €589.3 million, of which the EU will provide €282.6 million.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “In the final year of the current programming period, the LIFE+ programme once again demonstrates its ability to deliver essential financial support for environmental and nature conservation projects with significant added value for the EU. These latest projects will make a vital contribution to the preservation, conservation and enhancement of Europe’s natural capital, as well as helping to achieve sustainable growth through investment in a low carbon and resource efficient economy. The widely acknowledged success of LIFE+ and its projects has ensured the recent adoption of a new LIFE Regulation for Environment and Climate Action, with an increased budget, for the period 2014-2020”


Bulgarian LIFE project celebrates return of lesser kestrels from Africa

(LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

29 April 2014On 18 March, the first lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) introduced to restore this species in Bulgaria returned from its migration to Africa. The LIFE project Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) had imported birds from Spain last year, and introduced them into the mountainous Sakar region in south-eastern Bulgaria. By the end of March, 16 of the introduced birds, plus a male that had accompanied one of the females, had returned from Africa, mated, dug nests and laid eggs.

The LIFE project is coordinated by the NGO Green Balkans. It aims to support and strengthen the population of globally endangered lesser kestrels in Bulgaria, through a series of direct actions and wider public involvement. The project runs until September 2017.

In addition to translocating around 170 chicks from collaborating partner DEMA, a breeding centre in Spain, the project is establishing a captive breeding project in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.


Rohrschollen Island project restores Rhine connection

LIFE08 NAT/F/000471

24 April 2014The LIFE Nature project Rohrschollen Island (LIFE08 NAT/F/000471) celebrated the reconnection of the river Rhine with the island's waterways at an event attended by representatives of the coordinating beneficiary and partner organisations.

The event, which took place on 12 March, may have been the culmination of four years of work, but it is only a first step along a path towards the restoration of the island's alluvial dynamics and the protection of its riparian forests.

The Rohrschollen Island project began in 2010, with the aim of reintroducing the regular dynamic flooding of the Rhine onto the island - located 10 km north of Strasbourg - by the creation of a water intake structure on the island's south side. This will restore the ecological connections between the island and the river and ensure the survival of the island's willow and alder wood habitats.


WECF sets out its recommendations for EU policy on EDCs


24 April 2014Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) held a Policy Dialogue meeting, ‘Time to Act – Protecting Children's Health from EDCs’ on 19 February 2014 in Brussels. Exposure to EDCs or endocrine-disrupting chemicals is particularly harmful to children’s health, and the meeting was organised to improve the understanding of policy-makers and stakeholders of this problem and increase support for urgent EU action.

WECF is currently coordinating a LIFE project, ChildProtect-Life (LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833), which is aiming to speed-up implementation of EU environmental regulations on the substitution of EDCs, in line with the EU 2020 goal of minimising adverse effects of chemicals on public health. The Brussels meeting was organised with the project partners Gezinsbond and PAN-Europe.

The beneficiary, WECF, is an international network of more than 150 women’s, environmental and health organisations. One of the key priorities for the network is EDCs, which, in the past few decades, have emerged as a key challenge for European environment and health policies. 

Recent scientific evidence shows that action is urgently needed to reduce EDC exposure, especially for women and children. A baby’s development can be irreversibly harmed by EDCs, and growing evidence shows that such exposure may result in permanent health damage to the child’s hormone system.


LIFE Best Projects 2013: Nature, Environment and Information winners revealed

Best NAT

22 April 2014The Best LIFE projects completed by the end of 2013 will be honoured at two separate award ceremonies taking place in Brussels this spring.

Nature and Information

The first ceremony recognises the achievements of 13 LIFE projects targeting nature conservation and will take place on 29 April 2014. Eleven of the award-winners are LIFE Nature projects; the other two being LIFE Information & Communication projects with a nature conservation focus.

The event, which will feature short presentations by the winning projects, will be held from 17:30 onwards at meeting room 0D of the Centre de Conferences Albert Borschette (CCAB), rue Froissart 36. Brussels. The awards will be made in the presence of the Habitats and Ornis Committees, which are made up of Member State representatives following the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives.      

Environment and Information

The second award ceremony will take place in early June and honours the work of the Best LIFE Environment projects and Best LIFE Information and Communication projects addressing environmental themes completed in 2013.

Six projects have been awarded “Best of the Best” status, five from the LIFE Environment strand and one from LIFE Information & Communication.


Manchester-based project releases films on recycling

LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389

16 April 2014Awareness-raising about recycling is a key focus of UP&FORWARD COMS (LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389), a LIFE Environment project in Greater Manchester, UK. The community-based project has just released two films on recycling as part of its wider campaign to persuade more residents to recycle their household rubbish. The films, produced by students at the University of Bolton, with the help of production company, Bellyfeel, target ‘hard-to-reach’ communities, i.e. inner-city areas that are traditionally low-performing in terms of recycling.

The first film, “Cheetham Hill Community Tidy Up (part 1 and 2)” targets the private rental market and landlords. It shows residents of the Cheetham Hill area coming together for a one-day community tidy up event. The second film, “Eco Faith” worked with religious groups and faith leaders of Oldham, Greater Manchester – choosing the month of Ramadan in 2013, to focus residents’ minds on looking after their environment through recycling.


Launch of next LIFE call for projects provisionally set for June


10 April 2014The first call for tender under the new LIFE programme (2014-2020) for Environment and Climate Action is provisionally set to launch 16 June 2014.

The call will cover ‘Traditional’ projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Capacity-Building projects.

It is important to remember that ‘traditional’ projects mean best-practice/demonstration/pilot/information projects (i.e. similar to those currently funded under LIFE+ Nature, Biodiversity, Environment and Information & Communication). The priority topics for ‘traditional’ projects in the Environment sub-programme have been set in the multi-annual work programme for 2014-2017, pages 8-24:



LIFE work programme for 2014-2017 is approved


19 March 2014The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017 has been adopted by a Commission Decision on 19 March 2014, after having received a positive opinion of the Committee for the LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action on 17 February 2014. The work programme applies from the date of its adoption and enters into force as of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. It will be published in all EU languages with the exception of Irish.

The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017 sets the framework for the next four years for the management of the new LIFE Programme 2014-2020. It contains an indicative budget, explains the selection methodology for projects and for operating grants and establishes outcome indicators for the two LIFE sub-programmes – for Environment and for Climate Action. The total budget for funding projects during the period covered amounts to €1.1 billion under the sub-programme for Environment and €0.36 billion under the sub-programme for Climate Action.

For the first time LIFE project funding also will be provided through innovative financial instruments. The LIFE Environment sub-programme contributes to one such instrument, the pilot Natural Capital Financing (NCFF) financial instrument, which falls under the Nature and Biodiversity project area and will help finance biodiversity projects, amongst other things. The work programme also features an indicative timetable for the calls for proposals for action and operating grants as well as for the two pilot financial instruments covered by it. The first calls are scheduled for May/June 2014.


LIFE GREENLYSIS project wins water innovation award

Photo: LIFE08 ENV/E/000118

12 March 2014 GREENLYSIS (LIFE08 ENV/E/000118), a Spanish LIFE project led by the water technology centre, CETaqua, in partnership with SUEZ-CIRSEE and SAFT Baterías, has been recognised by the International Water Association (IWA) in its 2014 Project Innovation Awards. The LIFE project has obtained the Honour Award for Europe and West Asia in the Applied Research category. This regional triumph means it will now be entered in the global awards at the IWA World Water Congress in Lisbon (21-26 September 2014).

The main objective of the GREENLYSIS project, which ran from January 2010 until the end of 2012, was to construct a pilot plant to demonstrate the viability of a new technology for separating outflows from wastewater treatment plants into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis.



UK and Ireland stage successful LIFE Platform Meeting


11 March 2014The inaugural UK and Ireland LIFE Platform Meeting was held in London on 9 December 2013. The event brought together representatives of nearly 30 LIFE projects, government ministries and other LIFE stakeholder organisations from Ireland and the UK, together with the LIFE Unit of the European Commission's DG Environment and the LIFE monitoring team (Astrale GEIE - HTSPE Ltd).

The platform meeting was an opportunity to address issues of common interest around the LIFE programme in general, as well as concerns related to specific projects. The LIFE project beneficiaries and stakeholders were able to learn from each other's experiences and to ask questions directly of people with the relevant programme expertise and oversight.
Themes for workshops were chosen based on the preferences and experiences of the participating LIFE projects.


Project publishes steppe conservation book

Photo: Thomas Stephan

10 March 2014 The German LIFE project Steppenrasen Thüringens (LIFE07 NAT/D/000213) has produced a hardback book (456 pages) of the papers presented at its final conference in Erfurt, 3-6 June, 2012. The contributions, which are published in English and German, focus on steppe conservation in different regions of Germany and in other European countries.

Copies of Steppenlebensraume Europas – Gefährdung, Erhaltung Maßnahmen und Schutz (Hazard, conservation and protection) are available without charge, although the cost of packaging and postage must be covered.



LIFE project helps save Egyptian Vultures in Sudan


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.



LIFE project breeds and reintroduces freshwater mussels to Spanish lake

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/E/000078

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.


LIFE highlights how river restoration can help provide natural flood protection

Photo:LIFE09 INF/UK/000032

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.


LIFE project identifies priorities for action for Natura 2000 network in England

Photo:Chris Gibson/Natural England

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.


LIFE investment helps upward trend for Europe's bats

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/F/000473

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.


LIFE Platform Meeting addresses Alternative Future Urban Mobility challenges Schiffer

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.


Top 5 LIFEnews stories of 2013

Photo:LIFE07 ENV/IT/000434

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


MHyBus project demonstrates advantages of new fuel source for public transport

Photo:LIFE07 ENV/IT/000434

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.


New publication out! LIFE and Soil protection

LIFE and Soil protection

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.


Precursor study to new LIFE project reveals why migratory birds fly in V-formation

Photo:LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143

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.


New publication out! Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature

Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature

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.


LIFE helps bring about allis shad breeding return to the Rhine

Photo: LIFE06 NAT/D/000005

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.


LIFE project brings experts together at International Wolf Congress

Photo:LIFE08 NAT/IT/000325

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.


Invasive species project recognised for social innovation

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/PT/000075

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 ( 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.


New LIFE Regulation published: programme continues to 2020


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.


LIFE+ Prioritised Action Framework projects meet in Brussels

Photo: Astrale/Eric Ervrard

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.


LIFE project sets-up compensation scheme for Bulgarian farmers

Photo:LIFE11 NAT/BG/000363

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.


MulkearLIFE restoration project wins Irish award

Photo: LIFE07NAT/IRL/000342

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).


LIFE red squirrel efforts highlighted in IAS newsletter

(LIFE09 NAT/IT/000095

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.


Spread the message about Natura 2000 Awards!


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.


European Council approves LIFE Programme


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.


LIFE-established European Charter meeting and awards ceremony


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.


LIFE conference highlights advances in mosquito management

Photo: LIFE08 ENV/F/000488

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.


LIFE+ project expands reintroduction of Iberian lynx in Spain

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570

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:

  • Two males and five females at Guadalmellato (Córdoba);
  • Five males and four females at Guarrizas (Jaén); and
  • One male and one female in Doñana National Park.

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.


Telephone hotline to improve understanding of Natura 2000

Natura 2000 LOGO

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.


New publication out! The Best LIFE-Environment Projects 2012

Best LIFE-Environment Projects 2012

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.


New LIFE programme budget gets green light from Parliament


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.


SfEP Thematic Issue on LIFE Projects

SfEP Thematic Issue on LIFE Projects

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.


LIFE+ project awarded Spanish sustainability prize

Photo:LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

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.


WALPHY river restoration project holds final conference

Photo: LIFE07 ENV/B/000038

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.


New publication out! Best LIFE-Nature Projects 2012

pilot study on soil-related LIFE projects

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.




New study assesses LIFE's impact on soil

pilot study on soil-related LIFE projects

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.


LIFE project highlights biodiversity threat from ornamental plants

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/BE/001039

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.


Towards sustainable European construction through recycled gypsum

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/BE/001039

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.


Flying the red-breasted goose conservation flag

Photo: LIFE09 NAT/BG/000230

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.


Nordic platform meeting hailed a success

LIFE+ Nature platform meeting

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.


Italian LIFE+ project data creates buzz among insect experts

Photo:LIFE09 ENV/IT/000078

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.



LIFE project gives moorland a heather haircut

LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

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.



Herman Van Rompuy launches LIFE OZON project

Photo: European Council

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."


LIFE encourages you to join the Natura 2000 Communication Platform!


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:


New EU forest strategy moves 'out of the forest'

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/DE/000012

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.


SOL-BRINE project shares water management knowhow

Photo:LIFE09 ENV/GR/000299

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.


RESTORE river project hosts final international conference


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. 


Platform Meeting on 'Alternative Future Urban Mobility' Schiffer"

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:

  • Share and benefit from the experiences of completed and ongoing LIFE projects (and other initiatives) focusing on ‘Alternative Future Urban Mobility’;
  • Discuss the key issues – e.g. how to foster the change from the current mobility mode to new habits, and how to motivate people to use an e-bike rather than a car; and
  • Conclude recommendations on how the LIFE programme and the European Commission in general could support this topic.

The two-day event starts in the afternoon of Thursday, 21 November.


LIFE project's book surveys plant micro-reserve networks in Europe

Photo: LIFE10 NAT/ES/000565

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.


Salt of Life project helps celebrate 33rd anniversary of Atanasovsko Lake Reserve

Photo: LIFE10 NAT/ES/000565

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.


EC proposes new legislation to tackle threat of invasive alien species

Photo: LIFE10 NAT/ES/000565

23 September 2013The European Commission has proposed new legislation to prevent and manage the growing threat posed by invasive species that are alien to the natural environment in the EU.

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.



EU soil experts join LIFE+ projects in Greece


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.


LIFE helps achieve Important breakthrough for Malta's seabirds

LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090

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.


Priolo Brand gets off to flying start


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.


New call for proposals - NGO operating grants in 2014


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.  



Joy as released lesser kestrels rejoin wild population

Photo: LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

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).



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