26 March 2008 Good financial management is as important a part of running a LIFE project as the technical aspects. The Commission can carry out an audit any time during the lifetime of a project and up to five years after the end. To highlight the importance of good bookkeeping and inform project beneficiaries about the risks of not doing so, the Commission has published a note. The document presents three cases where an ex-post audit of a LIFE project's accounts ended in a recovery order.
Read the "Checking LIFE projects' financial records – ex-post audits" page.
25 March 2008 Experts and anybody interested in the environmental aspects of industry & production can now find a great deal of information about LIFE projects related to industry & production on the LIFE website.
The Industry & Production thematic pages section is the ninth such section published on the LIFE website. It groups together project descriptions, publications, videos and articles. "Rivers & lakes" will be the next section to go online.
20 March 2008 You can really begin to appreciate the important work which LIFE is doing to preserve Europe's biodiversity through the selection of beautiful pictures of LIFE-Nature projects presented in the new LIFE screensaver.
By following the simple instructions on the LIFE website, you can install the screensaver on your pc in a matter of seconds. The pictures have been especially chosen to portray the diversity of LIFE-Nature projects, which range from restoring mountain and coastal habitats to protecting endangered birds and conserving Europe's flora and fauna.
20 March 2008 The Intelligent Energy Europe programme (IEE) and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) are two other EU funding programmes which target investment in the environment. This year's application period for IEE funding opened on 12 March with the publication of a call for proposals. The call for proposals under the Eco-Innovation component of the EIP programme will be published on 21 April.
Under the IEE programme, some € 45 million will be made available to co-finance European projects for the promotion of energy efficiency and renewables, and the setting up of local or regional energy agencies. The EU funding will support up to 75% of eligible project costs. Any public or private organisation from the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Croatia can apply. The deadline for applications is 26 June 2008. Visit the IEE website for further details about the call.
If you have a great business project that could make Europe greener and you don't know how to get it off the ground then the 2008 Eco-Innovation call for proposals may be for you. This year's funding priorities are materials recycling, buildings, food & drink, greening business, and smart purchasing. €28 million worth of funding will be available covering up to 60% of the eligible costs. The call for proposals will be published on the 21 April and the deadline for applications is 11 September 2008. A European Info Day will take place in Brussels on 8 May. Visit the Eco-Innovation website.
To find out about these and other EU programmes, visit the Other Funding page.
19 March 2008 Biofuels are often promoted as an environmentally benign alternative to fossil fuels which could make significant contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A new study on biofuel life cycles has examined this issue in detail to reveal that benefits and environmental impacts can vary considerably between different fuels.
The study by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology, assessed and compared the environmental impacts of 26 different biofuels against petrol, diesel and natural gas. Findings demonstrated that biodiesel made from waste cooking oil and methanol or methane derived from wood offered the greatest reductions in greenhouse gases (over 50 per cent) when compared with fossil fuels. Bioethanol made from whey also performed very well in terms of its overall environmental footprint. The least environmentally friendly biofuels identified by the study were biodiesel made from Brazilian soy and bioethanol made from potatoes, rye and soy. These were all assessed to produce lower reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and have higher negative environmental impacts.
The study provides valuable data for a number of LIFE projects promoting biofuel opportunities derived from waste cooking oil or methanol, such as the Spanish ECOBUS initiative in Valencia (LIFE02 ENV/E/000253), Italy’s vegetable oil initiative for a cleaner environment underway at Florence University (LIFE06 ENV/IT/000257), Integrated Waste Management System for the Reuse of Used Frying Oils to Produce Biodiesel for Municipality Fleet of Oeiras, Portugal (LIFE05 ENV/P/000369), and the Volvo group’s Demonstration of DeMethyl Ether Vehicle for Sustainable Transport in Sweden (LIFE05 ENV/S/000405).
13 March 2008 It is hoped that fewer birds will perish from high voltage shocks thanks to a landmark agreement which was signed in Hungary on the 26 February. The "unobstructed skies" agreement is an initiative of Péter Olajos, Hungarian politician and MEP and was inspired by the actions of two LIFE-Nature projects in Hungary.
An estimated 30,000 birds die from contact with high voltage power lines in Hungary annually. The legal cost of the damage is as high as 1.2 billion forints (5 million euros). There are around 645 000 medium voltage power lines in the country and one third of these (215 000) are dangerous for birds. The "unobstructed skies" agreement provides for coating all high voltage power lines and power grids that could be dangerous for birds with a protective lining by 2020. The costs will be covered by Hungarian and EU funds as well as electricity suppliers. This unprecedented agreement in the European Union is a very important step forward for the conservation of bird species in Hungary and it may well inspire other countries to do likewise.
Signatories to the agreement included the Hungarian Environment Ministry, MME/BirdLife Hungary group, three major electricity providers and two LIFE-Nature projects: "Conservation of Aquila heliaca in the Carpathian basin" LIFE02 NAT/H/008627 and "Conservation of Falco cherrug in the Carpathian basin" - LIFE06 NAT/H/000096. The actions and results of these projects have in fact paved the way for the nationwide agreement. Surveys of 6000 power lines found that almost 1000 birds from 30 species (including 4 imperial eagles, a species threatened with extinction) had been electrocuted. The process of coating power lines with protective linings was started and a campaign calling for the compulsory insulation of power lines was organised during these projects.
For further information about the two Hungarian LIFE-Nature projects, visit their websites: "Conservation of Falco cherrug in the Carpathian basin" and "Conservation of Aquila heliaca in the Carpathian basin".
Across Europe, there are several LIFE-Nature projects that have carried out similar actions to protect birds, a few examples follow:
11 March 2008 Local school children have taken an active interest in an Irish LIFE-Nature project protecting the Carn Park Raised Bog (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000121). Bog biodiversity in Ireland is on the increase thanks to LIFE support and staff from the Carn Park project were keen to sustain their successes by raising future generations’ awareness about the peat bog’s importance in supporting wildlife. As part of this community outreach programme, pupils from the neighbouring Baylin National School were asked to write a poem about the things that they liked in the bog.
A prize was offered for the best piece of prose and children from 5th and 6th year classes took up the LIFE challenge, producing a set of works that would have put a smile on the face of Yeats himself. All of the youngsters who produced a poem were awarded with a native tree seedling for their efforts and the top prize was presented to Aishling McCormack, who received book and music tokens as well as having her winning verses displayed on a visitors’ plaque in the Bog’s public access area.
Aishling’s charming piece of poetry is printed below and LIFE staff hope that the competition will help encourage local children to take a more pro-active role in protecting bog biodiversity, plus persuade their parents to do likewise by avoiding illegal waste dumping on the bog.
Carn Park Bog
In Carn Park Bog there's lots of stuff
Drains, mosses and whole pile of turf
Worms, tadpoles, and snipe hide and play
We drive past them everyday
In Carn park bog there are rushes
We bring them to school to make some crosses,
Frogs, dragonflies and mink,
Sometimes I go there to think…
In Carn Park bog we gather some turf
And bring it home 'til we have enough
The bog is peaty, murky and wet,
Ï love to play out there you can bet
By Aishling McCormack, Baylin National School 2007
Further information about the Carn Park Bog restoration work is available on the project’s website.
10 March 2008 Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are species which are introduced to new places where they become established and proliferate in ways that are highly destructive to the environment and to economic and human interests. However, little is known about the extent of the IAS problem. The Commission has launched an internet consultation in view of a Communication on the subject at the end of 2008.
You can take part in the survey until 5 May 2008 at the Your Voice website.
Read the LIFE-Focus publication, Alien species and nature conservation in the EU: The role of the LIFE programme.