30 March 2010 There is a double cause for celebration for all those working on the LIFE programme today with the publication of two new LIFE Focus brochures. The latest release from the LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance strand is called ‘Water for Life – LIFE for water: protecting Europe’s water resources’. Issues of water quantity and quality are of concern to many European citizens and transcend national boundaries. The contents of 66-page publication are drawn from the proceedings of the first LIFE Environment thematic conference, which took place in Brussels in October 2009. The aim of the event was to examine the role of LIFE Environment as an instrument to support the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, alongside other EU water-related legislation and policy. In addition to this general aim, the conference included thematic sessions (with LIFE project case studies) on four specific topics of interest: water scarcity and climate change; hydromorphological alterations; implementation of marine strategy; and eutrophication. The highlights of a poster session are also included.
Also new today from LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity is the publication ‘LIFE improving the conservation status of species and habitats: Habitats Directive Article 17 report’. EU Member States have recently completed the most comprehensive survey of EU biodiversity to date, reporting on the conservation status of more than 1 182 species and 216 habitat types, as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. This new 84-page LIFE Focus publication shows how LIFE Nature is helping improve the conservation status of a range of species and habitats covered by the directive. The first half of the publication looks at a range of projects that have targeted mammals, birds, fish and lesser-known animal species, as well as plants. The second-half of the publication looks at the impact of the LIFE programme on a range of habitat types: forests, dunes, heathlands, wetlands, wet forests and grasslands.
26 March 2010 A LIFE project (LIFE06 NAT/E/000209) has successfully completed the release into the wild of three adult Iberian lynx - Europe’s most threatened carnivorous mammal. Taking place in Guadalmellato, near Córdoba, this follows on from an earlier pre-release stage reported here in January 2010.
On 15 March, the first pre-released males, Caberú and Cascabel, were let out of the 3-4 ha enclosures they had shared for three months with the females Charqueña and Diana respectively. The males have been released in the hope the females will give birth and successfully rear a litter within the protected area unmolested. It is expected that the females in the enclosures will provide a geographical fix for the males.
A third animal, a female believed to be above breeding age - Mata - was released into the wild on 8 March, without being enclosed in a protected area. Mata had been captured in Doñana weighing less than 5 kg and has been released following measures to restore her health in the hope she will survive in the project area and to fix the males with a female presence.
The released animals are being tracked by GPS collars. For further information on progress so far and regular updates and news, please visit the project website.
The next planned action is to release into the wild another two young pre-released lynx, named Elrón and Eclipse that are in the enclosures since December.
24 March 2010 On 15-17 February 2010, the project partners celebrated the kick-off meeting of the LIFE+ project: FENIX - Finding regional environmental life cycle information on packaging waste management through flexible software tools and databases (LIFE08 ENV/E/000135).
European experts from the project partners in Spain, Portugal and Germany discussed the work programme and technical specifications for the delivery of a user-friendly and flexible software tool to provide environmental life-cycle assessments (LCA) for packaging waste. They already examined current technologies for urban solid-waste treatment and different national frameworks on packaging-waste management.
The planned tool, which will take into account economic and social factors, is primarily aimed at enabling Spanish and Portuguese local and regional waste managers to identify more eco-efficient and sustainable solutions for packaging waste. The tool should be adaptable to different European contexts, however, as it will allow users to modify parameters such as kilometres travelled and plant efficiency according to their specific situation.
The project is being coordinated by GiGa - the Environmental Management Research Group within the International School of Trade (ESCI) of the Univerisitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona. To fully promote life-cycle assessment of packaging waste, it will supply up-to-date data and create a network of experts on these issues amongst Spanish and Portuguese universities and technical institutions.
12 March 2010A LIFE Nature project to save the Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis) LIFE04 NAT/HU/000116 was this month honoured by a visit from the President of Hungary, László Sólyom. After taking part in the release of a viper back into the wild, the President highlighted that “Of all the EU’s LIFE Nature projects, this is one of the top five. It is something we can really be proud of.”
The main achievement of the project was the establishment of a Conservation Centre running a captive breeding programme for the snake. To create the conditions necessary for the survival of the endangered viper, the project also reconstructed 26ha of grassland and created artificial burrows. Important monitoring activities of vipers, rodents and orthopterans were carried out, along with a significant public awareness campaign.
The project was named one of the five best LIFE Nature projects 2007-8. It is already being followed up by another LIFE Nature project LIFE07 NAT/H/000322 to release over 400 vipers back into their natural environment.
For more information, please see the project website.
05 March 2010LIFE is reaching out to whole a new audience with the launch of two new social networking services. Firstly, there is now an official fan page on Facebook. Members of the service who become ‘fans’ of LIFE will be able to see breaking news stories from the LIFE website, find out when new LIFE publications are available and read about relevant forthcoming events, such as 'LIFE Nature and Biodiversity – preparing the future' conference.
The official fan page is also linked to an existing, unofficial LIFE Facebook group, which was founded in 2008 by Konstantinos Alexandros Mentzelopoulos from Greece, a former LIFE Nature project co-ordinator and Natura 2000 Networking Programme Ambassador who is now working with Korthi municipality, Andros island, Greece, to contribute to the development of sustainable fisheries and the rehabilitation of marine resources. "I started the LIFE group as a means of developing public awareness about this wonderful financial tool and its accomplishments. Most of my friends did not relate to the programme, so I started posting LIFE news on the facebook group. I found that the response was absolutely wonderful as people could relate to LIFE better this way," explains Mr. Mentzelopoulos.
As well as Facebook, LIFE is now also on Twitter. Go to twitter to follow the latest ‘tweets’ from LIFE.
“Creating a presence on these social networking services is an interesting and exciting new way of communicating the excellent work done by the LIFE programme,” says Simon Goss, the LIFE Communications Co-ordinator in DG Environment.
04 March 2010The regional government of Aragon and the electricity company Endesa celebrated the continued success of their LIFE project “improvement of power lines in zepas in Aragon” LIFE04 NAT/ES/000034 at an event on 22 February 2010. The project, which finished at the end of 2008 continues to deliver results: a 94% reduction in bird mortality from electricity lines.
The event was held in the context of 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity and celebrated not only the tremendous results of the LIFE project, but also the continued commitment of the partners to reducing risks to birds from electricity lines. The LIFE project fitted out 325 km of high-tension power lines with neoprene warning markers and buried or dismantled a further 24.2 km. Since the project finished the Ministry and Endesa have fitted out more electricity lines with similar warning markings along two important stretches.
The event was held in the Laguna de Gallocanta, covered by the Ramsar Convention, and where improvements have been made to power lines particularly affecting cranes and bustards. It was also the occasion for the ceremonial release of a crane, which had been rescued after an accident by the Wild Fauna Recovery Centre of Aragon’s Department of the Environment.
The event saw the participation of: the Regional Minister for the Environment, Alfredo Boné; the Director General of Endesa in Aragon, Jaime Gros; and the regional Director General of Sustainable Development and Biodiversity, Anabel Lasheras; as well as the Director of the Environment for Teruel, local mayors and experts from biodiversity and natural protection services. Alfredo Boné reminded participants that accidents with high-tension power lines are one of the principal causes of non-natural mortality amongst some of the most endangered birds in Aragon. The actions undertaken “helped to slow loss of biodiversity and to highlight the responsibility being taken by the companies involved.”