28 May 2008 The EU Member States represented on the LIFE Committee and the European Commission’s LIFE Unit have announced the selection of the 21 best LIFE Environment projects for 2007-2008. Of these outstanding environmental projects, five have been selected as the very best, or the Best of the Best (BoBs). The top five projects (in no particular order) are: ENVIFACILITATE (Finland); DIONYSOS (Greece); RETOXMET (Hungary); PROWATER (Italy); and ART (Sweden).
To be eligible for these prestigious environmental awards, projects must have completed their final report between January 2007 and January 2008. Following an initial review carried out by the LIFE Unit’s external monitoring team, the projects were assessed and scored by EU Member State representatives and the Commission. The selected projects represent the most recent successful LIFE Environment projects in terms of their contribution to immediate and long-term environmental, economic and social improvements; their degree of innovation and transferability; their relevance to policy, and their cost-effectiveness.
This is the fourth time the best LIFE Environment projects have been identified. A similar exercise was carried out last year (in 2006-2007) and in the previous two years. Following the success of last year’s awards session held during the EU’s Green Week, this year’s winners will also receive their awards at a special ceremony during Green Week 2008.
Commenting on this year’s winners, organiser of the BoBs’ awards, Nicole Kerkhof, from SenterNovem, an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economics Affairs said: “We are once again very pleased to announce 21 outstanding LIFE Environment projects. Although we cannot speak of one ‘Best of Best’, the five BoBs came out particularly well – all scoring over 92% according to the selection criteria. The 16 best projects also scored very highly.”
Acknowledging the work of all the national authority representatives who were involved in the evaluation process, and especially of UK colleague, Robbie Craig, who was responsible for coordinating the selection process, she said she was looking forward to the presentation of the awards at Green Week 2008 on 4 June.
Meet the BoBs
The BoBs (in no particular order) are:
More information on the selected projects, including links to project summaries, layman reports and websites for each of the 21 best LIFE Environment projects 2007-2008 is available on the Best Projects section of the LIFE website. Finally, a new brochure, Best LIFE Environment Projects 2007-2008 will be published in the summer.
28 May 2008 Six LIFE Environment project beneficiaries were awarded prizes at the gala awards ceremony for this year’s International Energy Globe Awards (the World Awards for Sustainability) in Brussels on Monday (May 26). Hosted by the European Parliament, the awards ceremony acknowledged LIFE funded projects from Belgium, Britain, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovenia, all of which won the top prize in their national categories.
LIFE support was highlighted by presenters at the awards which were attended by Mikhail Gorbachev and Kofi Annan as well as European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. LIFE beneficiaries were pleased to see their work profiled on such a prestigious international stage and the awards were considered to be extremely useful in helping promote their environmental activities back home with national colleagues. Dr Tjaša Griessler Bulc from Slovenia’s LIMNOTOP project said that the award “is like an entrance ticket that could open doors for our eco-remediation work and we will need to make sure we maximise the use of this important commendation”.
Other LIFE award winners were equally upbeat about the Energy Globe awards’ value in terms of helping their project methodologies become recognised as best practice and mainstreamed in national policies. These comments were particularly relevant for France’s ISONITRATE LIFE project, working with new scientific techniques to manage water quality, and the same sentiments were echoed by Attila Lovas from Hungary’s LIFE-SUMAR project, who said “the award confirms that our riparian rehabilitation activities represent values that are acknowledged globally”. He went on to emphasise that “this was not only a reward to our organisation but to the whole project partnership”.
Stakeholder support was also stressed by Steve Whipp, from Britain’s ‘MAD but better’ LIFE project, as a critical factor in expanding the important progress made with their innovative technology for treating waste water sludge. He said “our Globe award confirms the relevance of our development programme and gives us confidence to maintain our ongoing technology development programme”.
Belgium’s Ecospeed LIFE project, providing new non-toxic coating materials for ship hulls, was nominated as one the top five international submissions under the awards’ Water category and Dutch LIFE beneficiaries also received recognition for their Brine Recovery project.
The award ceremony concluded with a gala performance in the Parliament Hemicycle where the LIFE project representatives were able to share experiences and promote their LIFE work among fellow environmental experts from all corners of the globe.
28 May 2008 A new report on “EU funding for management and research of invasive alien species in Europe” shows that over the last 15 years, despite the lack of a specific strategy or a dedicated financial instrument to deal with invasive alien species (IAS), the EC has contributed to financing 187 LIFE projects which address this issue. In fact, the total budget devoted to IAS has exceeded 44 million EUR.
The report has been prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) as a part of its work on "Streamlining European 2010 Biodiversity Indicators" (SEBI 2010). This process is aimed at assessing progress toward the target of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010.
The new EEA report shows that the contribution of the LIFE programme has been characterised by an overall positive trend over the years, in terms of both the number of projects and the budget spent. On average each year over the period 1992-1006, the EC financed 12 IAS related LIFE projects, for an average cost of 230 000 EUR each, corresponding to a budget of almost 3 million EUR. The increasing trend to fund IAS reflects an overall increase in both the awareness of the problem among wildlife managers and scientific institutions, and the willingness of the European Commission institutions and the EU citizens to provide financial support.
As already analysed in an earlier report in the LIFE Focus series “Alien species and nature conservation in the EU: The role of the LIFE program” the LIFE programme has financed a wide range of measures with regard to IAS. These were mostly aimed at preventing, controlling or eradicating unwanted populations (American mink, ruddy duck, Caulerpa taxifolia, Rhododendron, etc.), and were often connected with either the restoration of habitats or recovery of species of EU interest.
The EEA report also analyses the contribution of the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (RTD) to funding IAS. In this case the number of LIFE projects dealing with IAS was higher in comparison to RTD projects, although the budget spent was lower.
Read the full report "EU funding for management and research of invasive alien species in Europe".
22 May 2008 A LIFE-Nature project has been named ‘project of the month’ for May 2008 by the important German environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe in its “Green Cities” initiative (Grün in der Stadt).
The project, “Optimisation of the pSCI Lippe flood plain between Hamm and Hangfort" (LIFE05 NAT/D/000057) - better known as ‘The Freely Flowing Lippe’, worked to restore the natural river and floodplain dynamics in a proposed Site of Community Interest (pSCI) on the River Lippe, a tributary of the Rhine.
Led by the local authority in the city of Hamm, the project removed river bank reinforcements from a 5,500m section of the river to promote the return of natural erosion and sedimentation processes. The natural hydrology of grasslands was restored by blocking ditches and the frequency of flooding increased.
The project restored natural river habitats for important species, including the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and sand martin (Riparia riparia). It will also facilitate the migration of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis) and asp (Aspius aspius).
20 May 2008 LIFE co-finances innovative projects that explore ways to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of EU policy and legislation on forest quality management. A selection of these projects and their results are presented in the latest thematic section to be published on the LIFE website.
The "Forests" section, similar to the other thematic sections, is divided into 6 sub-sections and presents information about projects, publications, videos and news features dating back to 2005. The most recent LIFE projects relevant to forests (from 1999 onwards) have been divided into three thematic groups: sustainable management, habitat conservation and habitat restoration.
Add "Forests" to your bookmarks.
16 May 2008 As a user of the LIFE programme’s communication products, you are invited to participate in a survey to gather views on how to improve the quality of our services.
The survey questions are mostly multiple-choice and the aim is to identify your information needs, as well your perceptions about the existing LIFE communication products and services.
Your opinions are valued and we would be very grateful if you could take 5 minutes to complete the on-line survey by clicking here.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
07 May 2008 Two new video clips have been produced by the European Commission showing off the work of LIFE and the beauty of Europe’s nature.
The three-minute long LIFE: Nature conservation in action video presents images from recent LIFE-Nature projects. These have been selected from the 968 projects that LIFE-Nature has co-financed since 1992 to improve the conservation status of endangered species and natural habitats in Europe. Highlights include projects to protect marine biodiversity in Spain, reintroduce the brown bear to Italy, conserve bats in France, restore bogs in Ireland, conserve Eagles in Hungary, restore dune habitats in Denmark, and save the Canaries’ giant lizard in the Canary Islands (Spain).
The Iberian lynx is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. LIFE and the Iberian lynx is a new three-minute video available in both English and Spanish, which presents the work of two LIFE-Nature projects in Andalusia to conserve this rare and beautiful big cat.
Both videos are also available to view here.
05 May 2008 A German project demonstrating an innovative wind propulsion system for cargo ships; a Spanish project showing the feasibility and economic viability of the reuse of wastewater sludge in the ceramic industries; a Paris-based project to supply fuel-cell energy for a housing unit; and several nature projects demonstrating synergies between sustainable farming and the conservation of Europe’s endangered species. These are just a few examples of the LIFE projects presented at an exhibition, which takes place alongside the Green Week 2008 in Brussels, to be held on 3-6 June 2008.
Among the LIFE exhibitors is the German LIFE Environment project “WINTECC” –Demonstration of an innovative wind propulsion technology for cargo vessels (LIFE06 ENV/D/000479). The project will demonstrate energy and greenhouse gas savings achievable by its new SkySails towing kite system for cargo ships. Depending on the type of ship and the actual wind conditions, the project is aiming for 10-35% annual reductions in fuel costs and claims that temporary reductions by up to 50% can be achieved under optimal wind conditions.
Sludge from the treatment of water in purifying plants was traditionally dumped in sewers, landfill sites or emptied into rivers or the sea. Today the majority of this mud is used in agriculture. However, a three-year Spanish LIFE Environment project “ECO-CERAMICS” (LIFE05 ENV/E/000301) will demonstrate a new sludge management concept, introducing a method that will involve reusing it as material for the structural ceramics industry. The project’s experiences will be disseminated at Green Week 2008 and the team will also show how the techniques developed for the ceramic industries can be applied to other industries.
Led by French energy services group, DALKIA, in partnership with the Paris public housing office (OPAC), the recently-closed LIFE-Environment project “Cellia” (LIFE04 ENV/FR/000331) will be showing its low-cost, lower emissions fuel cell, developed with LIFE co-funding and now installed in a boiler-house in a 280-unit building in Paris. The project targets the reduction of carbon dioxide released by thermal installations in the housing sector, which accounts for 19% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.
Also among the exhibitors at Green Week 2008, is the Spanish LIFE Nature project beneficiary, CBD-Habitat Foundation, which has received LIFE co-financing for a number of projects, focusing for example on the relationships between sustainable farming methods and the conservation of Europe’s endangered species. Highlighting various projects on the Iberian lynx (e.g. “Conservation and reintroduction of the Iberian lynx in Andalucia” (LIFE06/NAT/E/000209)), their stand will feature an interactive display of their achievements.
To find out more about these and other LIFE projects, come and visit the Green Week!