28 February 2008 The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria and the Austrian Association for Water and Waste Management (ÖWAV) is inviting applications for the 10th Waste Management award “Phönix – Einfall statt Abfall”. This € 8,000 award praises creative, practical and innovative solutions and concepts which provide a more sustainable approach to managing waste.
Applications are invited from stakeholders across Austria, in particular businesses, local authorities, NGOs, research institutes and universities, professional associations, students and school classes.
21 February 2008 Information on LIFE projects related to environmental management and wetlands can now be found much easier on the LIFE website: Since today, related project descriptions, publications, videos and articles are grouped in thematic sections on Wetlands and Environmental management.
With the thematic pages on wetlands, the second sub-section under the "Nature, Biodiversity" theme is now online. The Environmental management pages however already follow the publication of five other environment sections covering Waste, Energy & Climate; Water; Air; and the Urban Environment & Quality of Life.
Watch this space in order not to miss the next thematic pages that will be going online in the coming weeks!
18 February 2008 Coillte Teoranta, Ireland's largest forestry company, is managing two LIFE-Nature projects which are restoring both raised and blanket bogs in Ireland. The blanket bog project "Restoring Active Blanket Bog in Ireland" (LIFE02 NAT/IRL/8490) has just finished. It involved 20 sites in counties, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry and Laois. The raised bog project "Restoring Raised Bog in Ireland" (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000121) involves 14 sites in Cavan, Galway, Roscommon, Meath, Longford, Westmeath, and Laois and will finish at the end of September 2008.
A promotional DVD "Bringing the Bogs Back to LIFE" has been produced to highlight the objectives, actions and expected results of the bog restoration projects. It was launched by Minister Mary Wallace, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with special responsibility for Forestry, at ENFO (Information Section of Dept. of Environment) in Dublin on 30 January.
15 February 2008 Over 150 delegates gathered in the historic village of Birnam Wood last month to participate in the launch of the new LIFE+ Programme in Scotland. Macbeth was conspicuous by his absence and no witches’ prophecies materialised but the launch event still managed to attract a keen audience of environmental interests from across the length and breadth of Scotland.
The meeting was opened by Andrew Thin, the Chairman of Scottish National Heritage (SNH) and presentations were provided by different speakers highlighting the new emphasis within LIFE + programming on key objectives such as enhanced monitoring and evaluation; improved environmental governance; and broader stakeholder engagement. Widespread consensus was formed regarding the latter issue which delegates agreed provided an important opportunity for natural heritage work in Scotland.
Staff from the UK’s LIFE+ National Contact Point, Beta Technology, were on hand to provide advice and guidance regarding the LIFE + application process. Beta’s analysis was based on their work with the UK National Authority for LIFE + ( Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) during the recent 2007 call (21 proposals from UK organisations were submitted to the European Commission by the 15 January deadline). Tom Hudson, Beta's LIFE+ coordinator, mentioned some of the common errors for UK submissions: project's complementarity with other EU funding, inaccurate budget forecasting, basic formatting of the proposal and so on. In the coming months, Beta is taking part in LIFE+ promotional events around the UK, such as the LIFE+ Launch event in Wales on the 4 March 2008.
The launch event was considered a big success by co-sponsors Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland who were particularly pleased with the lively networking session which is anticipated to bear fruit in the coming months as new LIFE + partnerships begin to form and collaborations become established.
12 February 2008 Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ian Paisley MP MLA, addressed an event to mark the successful installation of the new NITRABAR LIFE-Environment project technology demonstration (Remediation of agricultural diffuse nitrate polluted waters though the implementation of a permeable reactive barrier - LIFE05 ENV/UK/000137).
Before an audience of journalists, government representatives, farmers and environmental specialists, Dr. Paisley commended the project, which aims to provide a cost effective technology to help reduce nitrate levels in Europe’s rivers and lakes. Over the last 40 years, nitrate release from farmland has caused levels of this nutrient in many European rivers and lakes to exceed environmental quality standards.
NITRABAR is demonstrating a novel permeable reactive barrier approach to removing nitrate from shallow groundwater before it enters surface waters. This provides the right conditions and food for the bacteria which naturally convert nitrate into nitrogen gas to flourish. NITRABAR should provide a cost-effective tool to help farmers and others managing river catchments meet the challenging water quality goals set out in European policy, including the Water Framework Directive.
The event on 29th January was held at the ECOS Millennium Environmental Centre in Northern Ireland, where the technology demonstration is taking place. During the event, Dr. Paisley opened a mobile multi-media exhibition about the project and nitrate in the environment, part of which is designed for school children.
Professor Robert Kalin, NITRABAR partner from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, said: "The Project is about creating the right conditions to allow natural processes to flourish - in other words, we're helping the environment to help itself." The NITRABAR Partners are: The University of Strathclyde, Scotland; Ecomesh Ltd, Northern Ireland; Environment Agency of England and Wales; Zenenzo byba, Belgium; PRGW, Poland; APCO Ltd, Malta; CL:AIRE, UK; Environmental KTN, the University of Oxford, England.
For more information on the project, visit the NITRABAR website.
12 February 2008 The ongoing SEFALO+ LIFE-Nature project (Saving the endangered Fennoscandian Alopex lagopus - LIFE03 NAT/S/000073) is engaged in a number of activities to attempt to reverse the decline of arctic foxes in Sweden, Norway and Finland. The project has reported some encouraging results: in the summer of 2007 at least 23 arctic fox litters were born in Sweden and 13 in Norway.
The SEFALO+ project is based on experience from a first LIFE-Nature project (Preservation of the Arctic Fox, Alopex lagopus, in Sweden and Finland - LIFE98 NAT/S/005371), which ran from 1998-2002. This first project aimed to double the population of this threatened mammal, which is in danger of extinction, but it did not succeed. Although the population did not decline during the first project, it was not until there was a peak of northern lemmings (small rodents which are the most common prey of arctic fox) that the population responded with a substancial number of young.
Arctic foxes are in fact highly dependent on the natural population fluctuations of small mammals, such as lemmings and voles, on which they feed. These cycles of peaks and troughs tend to repeat every four years, and a "bad" year for rodents can be disastrous for arctic fox populations. A further problem which the arctic fox has to face is the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, a strong and successful competitor which is currently expanding its range into territories inhabited by arctic foxes.
The SEFALO+ project, which runs until June 2008, is showing that a programme of supplementary feeding combined with red fox control is an efficient conservation approach for the arctic fox. With supplementary feeding during the winter, the size of the litters has increased; 36 arctic fox litters were born in the summer of 2007.
The decline in the population of this acutely endangered mammal has now been reversed. The most recent data (see graph below) from the project shows that although the population increase would probably not have been possible without the availability of food from lemmings and voles, extra support measures are nevertheless needed to recover the population of the arctic foxes. Relying on the normal rodent cycles would not be sufficient.
For further information on the project, visit the SEFALO project website.
11 February 2008 An increasing number of LIFE projects are taking advantage of the free publicity facilities offered by file-sharing websites like YouTube and Google Videos. These websites attract thousands of visitors and reach a very broad audience providing LIFE beneficiaries with a useful communication tool to help promote their project activities and results.
Check out some LIFE examples from the links below and if your project has an interesting video why not add it to these video-sharing websites. Uploading instructions are simple which means there’s no excuse not to take advantage of such free and far-reaching publicity.
LIFE videos already on-line include:
08 February 2008 On 21st December, experts working for the LIFE lynx project (LIFE06 NAT/E/000209) translocated a male Iberian lynx from Sierra Morena to Doñana, which has a lynx population of only around 40 individuals. The translocated lynx was placed in a large enclosed area in Doñana as a first stage before liberation into the new environment.
This unprecedented action is part of a project striving to reintroduce self-sustainable lynx populations in selected areas of Andalusia. Such translocations are aimed at enhancing the genetic diversity of existing sub-populations. This is intended to boost numbers and reduce populations’ vulnerability to disease.
The project, which is led by the regional nature conservation authority, will also be re-introducing individual lynx raised in captivity into the wild and working to reconnect isolated sub-populations.
The project is running a public awareness campaign around its actions. As part of these awareness raising efforts, it is currently organising a children’s painting competition for schools in the region on the theme of the Iberian lynx and its habitats.
The project recently heard that a new lynx population has been discovered in Castilla-la-Mancha. This may mean that a third viable Iberian lynx population still survives.
The European Commission visited the project in October 2007. The group, including the Head of the LIFE Unit, Philip Owen, was eager to check the progress of one of the most ambitious LIFE projects yet.
07 February 2008 School pupils in the Slovakian town of Lehnice are being encouraged to take an interest in conserving their local wildlife through a novel environmental education competition supported as part of the LIFE-Nature project ”Conservation of Otis tarda in Slovakia” (LIFE05 NAT/SK/000115). The contest challenges local school children to produce their own pictures of the habitats which support the endangered Great Bustard. Titled ”Where does the Great Bustard live”, the competition aims to improve school kids’ awareness about the important role that their local area plays in conserving the rare Great Bustard. Pupils have been given guidance not to disturb the birds while preparing drawings or taking photographs and to concentrate on the habitats rather than the birds themselves.
Entries for this competition close on February 11th. The competition forms part of an on-going environmental education programme supported by LIFE-Nature. More information is available on the project website or the LIFE database.