12 December 2011News about LIFE’s successor has been released from the European Commission which confirms a proposed LIFE budget of €3.2 billion over the 2014-2020 financial period. The new draft regulation refers to a LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action and has been designed to build on the success of the existing LIFE+ Programme. The proposals introduce innovations to strengthen LIFE’s structure, enhance its strategic role and simplify operations through greater flexibility.
Emphasis will also be placed on better governance and the LIFE regulation proposal includes clearer definition of priority areas for the Programme, based on multi-annual work programmes being adopted in consultation with Member States. The current LIFE + components will be replaced by ‘sub-programmes’ covering Environment and Climate Action.
Announcing the new LIFE regulation proposals, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said, "The LIFE programme is key to EU environmental policy and legislation. It is the only EU instrument solely dedicated to the environment, with resources earmarked for environmental protection."
LIFE’s new structure was also welcomed by Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard who noted that, "By including specific funds for climate objectives, we will better ensure the implementation and integration of all environmental aims."
Priorities within the regulation proposals highlight LIFE’s future role in supporting new types of ‘Integrated project’ activity. These LIFE projects will promote, coordinate and catalyse large territorial scale approaches to planning and management of the EU’s nature, water, waste, air, and climate. Such integrated territorial projects will also play a key role in mobilising other EU, national and private funds to support environmental goals. Integrated project approaches would be a common feature of the future LIFE Programme’s Environment and Climate Action sub-programmes.
Read more about the future of LIFE here.
05 December 2011The Council of Europe has renewed the European Diploma of the Hautes Fagnes natural reserve in Belgium for a further ten years in recognition of the preservation work carried out in the area, in particular the actions taken by the LIFE project, ‘PLTHautes-Fagnes – Rehabilitation of heaths and mires on the Hautes-Fagnes Plateau’ (LIFE06 NAT/B/000091).
The European Diploma of Protected Areas was created in 1965 and is awarded to protected areas for their outstanding scientific, cultural or aesthetic qualities. Areas must also be subject to suitable conservation schemes. In 1966 the Hautes Fagnes became one of the first areas to receive the diploma, which has subsequently been renewed every five years.
As a result of the LIFE project, a total of 31 hectares of degraded peatlands were covered by water, through the creation of mineral dikes made of white clay and peat. Other measures such as cutting of spruce seedling and of 683 ha of coniferous stands as well as the closure of 200 km of drains will benefit the last population of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix). The nature reserve now covers an area of 4 300 hectares.
The project, which is being run by the Walloon Region, was set up to restore some 1800 ha of endangered peaty and wet habitats including peat moss (Sphagnum) and birch woods, raised bogs , damaged or inactive bogs, wet heathlands, transition mires, wet open acid peat with white beak-sedge (Rhynchospora alba), old acidophilous oak woodlands on sandy plains, as well as other habitats including dry heathlands, mat-grass swards, mountain hay meadows, rivular alder woods, tall-herb communities of humid meadows or watercourse fringes.
Visit the project website here.
02 December 2011LIFE’s Capitals of Biodiversity project (LIFE07 ENV/D/000224) held a high profile award ceremony in Brussels on December 24th. The LIFE project, which has successfully encouraged European municipalities to “lead the way in local biodiversity protection”, awarded five prizes that were presented by Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment.
Award winning municipalities from Hungary (Szentes), Slovakia (Kremnica), Spain (Puebla de Sanabria), France (Montpellier) and Germany (Hannover) were praised by the Commissioner for their commitment and contributions to help meet EU 2020 biodiversity targets.
Talking about the LIFE project’s achievements in catalysing local authority action, Commissioner Potočnik said, “We have to get European villages, towns and cities on board to be key actors for biodiversity management on the local level. Moreover they are the key players in bringing the message of the importance of biodiversity on our doorstep across to their citizens”
Isabelle Durant, vice-president of the European Parliament also congratulated the prize winners and she stressed how, “Safeguarding nature in the middle of our cities is a key factor for a lasting quality of life and requires citizens and politicians to work together, especially in the light of the diverse economical challenges cities are facing today.”
Prizes covered rural as well as urban areas and further information about the municipalities’ biodiversity work here, plus details on the LIFE project’s activity, is available from the Capitals of Biodiversity Layman’s report.