24 February 2010 The first ever seminar of LIFE and LIFE+ climate change projects took place 18-19 January at the invitation of the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, in Helsinki. The event provided an unprecedented opportunity for LIFE projects in the field of climate change to come together and exchange their experiences and learning.
In total, 30 projects from 11 different EU countries participated at the event, each having the opportunity to share their work and exchange new ideas and information from one another. The projects represented a total investment of around €100 million, of which the LIFE programme contributed half.
Workshops were held to discuss the results and follow-up of the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 held in Copenhagen, the policy implications of projects and any gaps in LIFE coverage. The overall aim was to find ways to increase the contribution of the LIFE+ programme in solving climate change problems.
Presentations were made by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, as well as representatives of the European Commission’s DG Environment: Mr. Timo Mäkelä, Director of the International Affairs Directorate; and Mr. Martin Petrtýl, LIFE environment and Eco-innovation Unit.
A similar event is planned in two years’ time to check on progress and learning from the range of LIFE climate change projects.
The presentations by all projects and officials can be watched on youtube.
Download: Proceedings part 1
Download: Proceedings part 2
Download: Proceedings part 3
23 February 2010 The Spanish LIFE Environment ‘ES-WAMAR’ (LIFE06 ENV/E/000044) project – to improve the management of the considerable quantities of pig waste generated annually on pig farms in the autonomous community Aragon – is showing some ‘promising’ demonstration phase results, according to the project beneficiary.
Launched in 2006, the 56-month LIFE Environment project, coordinated by Aragon public company, SODEMESA (Sociedad de Desarrollo Medio Ambiental de Aragón), finishes in March 2011. Already however, one of its three planned treatment plants is up and running and reducing the nitrogen load present in the slurry. Moreover, the addition of a biogas facility has enabled the plant to make use of the biogas produced from the anaerobic digestion of the waste.
With over 8.7 million pigs reared annually, pig farming is a major economic sector in Aragon. However, concentrated in certain areas, pig-related livestock activities generate a slurry volume of 8.5 million m3 per year and are responsible for pollutant emissions from non-point sources to surface water, ground water and air (including unpleasant odours).
The regional government of Aragon recently implemented an integrated waste management plan for Aragon (GIRA) seeking solutions to minimise its negative impact on the environment. In line with the EU’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive the plan aims to reduce overall waste generation and enhance reuse and recycling opportunities.
In response, the ES-WAMAR project is developing an integrated management model at three demonstration pilot collective slurry treatment plants in three different areas of Aragon facing similar problems – that is, they have a surplus of pig waste –the municipality of Tauste, the county of Maestrazgo and the municipality of Peñarroya de Tastavins. In The objective of the pilot treatment plants is to reduce and prevent the diffuse water pollution from the slurry and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.
This integrated approach, implemented with the support of local farmers, aims to:
Under the first phase of the project (the demonstration phase), the Peñarroya de Tastavins treatment plant is operating. At the plant, the pig manure is mechanically separated and the liquid phase is biologically treated by a nitrification/denitrification process. At the same time, a biogas plant has been constructed so that the existing slurry treatment plant could run on biogas.
Meanwhile, the same process is being transferred to the two other pilot plants, currently under construction. They too plan to use anaerobic digestion in order to produce and make use of the biogas. The aim is to reduce the GHG emissions, to equilibrate the energy balance producing at least the same amount of energy that is necessary for the treatment process, and to reduce the operating cost by the production of renewable energy.
The project’s experience at Peñarroya of transporting the slurry from intermediate tanks located in farmland direct to the treatment plant, via a system of pipelines, is also proving efficient – reducing costs (e.g. transport) and gas and odour emissions. For this reason, the pipeline grid is being extended.
On completion, the collective management scheme developed by the project and adapted to local needs, will be managed by three new Swine Waste Management Enterprises (SWMEs). The project is confident its findings will be easily transferable to other areas with similar problems, both in Spain and in other European countries.
For more information, see the project website.
22 February 2010 The recently selected H-REII LIFE+ project will investigate the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by improving heat recovery in energy intensive industries. The project will focus its activities around Brescia, a highly industrialised area in northern Italy.
A preliminary evaluation, based on the results of energy audits carried out in recent months, shows that the establishment of 60 heat recovery plants in this area could deliver saving of around 316,000 tons CO2/year, with a 500 GW/year reduction in energy demand.
“Regulations regarding heat recovery in industrial processes are currently developing at a European, national, regional and provincial level,” explained Marco Baresi, head of the H-REII project at Turboden, the project beneficiary. “Brescia - and the entire Region of Lombardy - is an area with a lot of industrial processes that generate heat with a high content of energy that is not properly exploited. Heat recovery from industrial processes, together with the production of electricity, is the ideal solution for a real reduction of CO2 releases,”
For further information contact: Daniele Comboni, tel: +39.02.881290.1
18 February 2010 LIFE-funded projects were featured on 28 occasions in the influential news service Science for Environment Policy in 2009, twice the number featured in 2008. This means that decision makers across Europe were given even greater opportunity to learn about the essential work carried out by LIFE projects.
Science for Environment Policy is a free news service from the European Commission’s DG Environment. The service gives policy makers rapid and easy access to the latest research results, which can help them develop more robust, evidence-based policies. Several clear examples of how LIFE projects have helped to bridge the gap between research results and their large-scale application have been featured by the news service.
Managing Editor, Emma Weitkamp said, “Science for Environment Policy has a reputation for identifying policy-relevant research and reporting it in easily accessible language. The articles highlight the relevance of the research to policy, making this service an essential read for environmental policy makers.”
Articles in Science for Environment Policy cover a range of key topics, including air pollution, climate change and sustainable production and consumption. Biodiversity is a priority theme and recent articles on this topic include coverage of an Estonian study into the value of agricultural field margins for biodiversity. The study’s results suggest that greater consideration should be given to rare weeds by broadening field boundaries and reducing the use of agrochemicals and fertilisers near these boundaries.
Information on new technologies which reduce our environmental impact is regularly aired in Science for Environment Policy. For example, a recent article reported on successful trials of a new EU-funded pesticide sprayer in Poland, which only sprays pesticides according to the needs of the crop and local environment. The ‘Crop Adapted Spray Application’ (CASA) system was found to reduce spray drift by up to 80 per cent in orchards.
LIFE projects highlighted in the news service include IDEAL 79 (LIFE05 ENV/F/000063), a highly effective waste-prevention programme conducted in France. Following the project, the production of residual waste in the Deux Sèvres region fell from 314 kg per year per inhabitant in 2005 to 283 kg in 2008. The project achieved these results through a series of information campaigns, training sessions and incentives for consumers, producers and other stakeholders. IDEAL 79 has great potential for other regions; measures for managing and reducing waste based on these findings have been introduced in Biala-Podlaska, Poland.
Research from the LIFE-supported project ‘Reintroduction of Crested coot in two SPAs of the Valencian region’ (LIFE99 NAT/E/006393) on efforts to reintroduce the crested coot into wetlands in the east of Spain was also featured in the news service. The researchers carefully observed the birds’ survival rates and, from this, could develop a framework for reintroduction projects which could be applied to other species. Previous research has shown that one out of three re-introduction plans fail to create a self-sustaining population. “As these examples illustrate, LIFE projects are excellent examples of policy-relevant work which our subscribers can use to help inform their own work”, said Dr Weitkamp. “We very much look forward to continued collaboration with LIFE in 2010.”
In addition to weekly news alerts, all subscribers to Science for Environment Policy receive free monthly special issues which each take an in-depth look at a topic high on the policy agenda. A recent issue was Environmental Communication, which explored how policy makers and communication professionals can effectively engage with the wider public and stakeholders. Tips for successfully communicating climate change, technological risk and scientific uncertainty were provided by some of studies detailed in the issue. Upcoming thematic issues for 2010 include Coastal Management, Ecosystem Services and Forest Protection in Europe.
Learn more about Science for Environment Policy and subscribe to the news alert.
16 February 2010 A landmark legal judgement in Andalusia (Spain) has resulted in a 1.5 year prison sentence for the illegal use of poisoned baits. This is the highest ever sentence for such a crime in the Spanish region. The convicted man, a 68 year old stockbreeder, was arrested on 1 May 2009 by the Natural Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Guardia Civil (Spanish Police force in rural areas).
The man admitted to placing poisoned baits in the area of “Sierra de Castril” (Andalusia), where a Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) called “Segura”, was found dead some days earlier. “Segura” was released in 2007 as part of the LIFE Nature project, “Actions for the reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture in Andalusia (LIFE04 NAT/ES/000056)”, which was led by the regional government of Andalusia and implemented by the Gypaetus Foundation.
The prosecution in the case included the Gypaetus Foundation and Castril Town Council, the first ever municipality in Europe to act as a private prosecution in an illegal poisoned bait trial. Castril Town council is one of the 32 members of the “Network of Municipalities Against Illegal Poisoning”, a Gypaetus Foundation initiative developed to actively involve local administration in the battle againts illegal poisoning. The network was promoted within the framework of the LIFE-Nature project (LIFE04 NAT/ES/000056).
For further details on the case, contact: Lorenza Olivares Brémond.
09 February 2010 The Irish government has approved funding for the implementation of an agri-environmental “blueprint” developed by the BurrenLife project, which officially ended on 31 January 2009.
The €3.0 million package, which was announced by Environment Minister, John Gormley, will provide support to over 100 farms in the Burren (unique limestone area in the west of Ireland) over a three-year period.The objective is to work towards an improvement in the conservation quality of the Burren’s unique habitats by ensuring the sustainable agricultural management of high-nature-value farmland within the area. Measures undertaken by the participating farms will also contribute to improving water quality, and to maintaining the high quality of the Burren landscape and cultural heritage.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Ciaran O’Keefe from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the BurrenLIFE project beneficiary said: "The minister has been very supportive of the BurrenLife approach and nothing really comparable has happened before in terms of the success it has achieved. Everyone is delighted with it."
Further details on the website
03 February 2010 The 1st annual awards for ‘outstanding actions’ developed to reduce waste across Europe will be announced on 15 March 2010, in Brussels. The event, organised by the three-year LIFE+ Information and Communication project, the European Week for Waste Reduction, will unveil the winners of over 2 600 waste reduction activities, organised during last year’s waste reduction week.
At this ceremony, which takes place at 6 pm at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Brussels, awards will be granted to the projects selected in the following categories: administrations and public authorities, associations and NGOs, businesses, educational institutions, and other (for example hospitals, nursing homes, cultural institutions, etc.).
The awards will be introduced by a welcome speech by Evelyne Huytebroeck, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Urban Renovation for the Brussels-Capital Region. The speech will feature an overall assessment of the 2009 European Week for Waste Reduction. It will also include details of how to take part in the 2010 event.
For more information on the event and on the 2010 call for European Week for Waste Reduction, visit the project website.