30 November 2011European Commission representatives, including many members of the LIFE Nature Unit, recently gathered at the ‘Plateau de la Foresterie’ Natura 2000 site in Brussels, alongside European environmental NGO representatives, to become green volunteers for a day.
The event was organised by the EUROPARC Federation, the voice of Europe’s protected natural areas, to mark the European Year of Volunteering and as part of the EU’s Lifelong Learning project, ‘Volunteer Management in European Parks’.
A total of 35 people visited the site in Brussels to help cut down and remove the invasive plant species the Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). All participants received a jacket and a certificate at the end of the day.
Launched in November 2010, the Lifelong Learning project aims to consolidate the management of volunteering in protected areas across Europe. The project, which will run to December 2013, will provide quality standards for good volunteer management, training for volunteer managers across Europe and spread information on the benefits of volunteering in protected areas to the local communities and volunteers.
A study by the European Volunteer Centre showed that volunteers represent the equivalent of 3-5% of the economically active population in many countries and they make a $400 billion contribution to the global economy.
22 November 2011Natura 2000, the EU's network of protected areas, has undergone a significant expansion. Nearly 18.800 square kilometres have been added, including a major addition of marine areas covering 17.000 square kilometres which will increase protection for many endangered marine species. The network now covers almost 18% of the EU's landmass and more than 145.000 km² of its seas. The main countries involved in this latest expansion are the UK, France, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania and Italy. Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of Europe's battle to halt biodiversity loss and safeguard ecosystem services.
Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment said: "Natura 2000 is at the moment one of the most effective tools we have in Europe to combat biodiversity loss, and it plays a key role in our strategy to protect our natural heritage. I particularly welcome the improved coverage of European seas: protecting Europe's marine environment and its unique features has never been more important."
The adoption of these Commission Decisions marks an important step towards finalising the establishment of the Natura 2000 network by 2012, a key activity included in the range of proposals in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy adopted by the Commission this year.
Read the full press release here.
18 November 2011The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) will run for the third time between 19 and 27 November 2011. The week, which is supported by of the LIFE+ Programme, aims to inform European citizens about the simple actions that they can take in their everyday lives to reduce waste.
A total of 7035 EWWR actions are being implemented in 2011, a significant increase on 4346 actions in 2010. The week will employ 34 organisers in 20 countries to mobilise stakeholders and validate their actions. (To view the list of organisers and actions, visit the EWWR website.
Many projects are carrying out awareness-raising actions on one or several of the following five themes: too much waste, better production, better consumption, longer life for products, and less waste thrown away.
The most outstanding European Week for Waste Reduction actions will be recognised at the European Waste Reduction Awards Ceremony in June 2012 in Paris.
17 November 2011MoorLIFE, one of the largest conservation projects in the UK, has started spreading the target 33 km of geo-textile netting on to the moor surface of Bleaklow to help reduce erosion of the peat and establish a new layer of vegetation. The Bleaklow conservation work site, which stretches from Sheffield and Manchester, is clearly visible to air passengers flying in and out of local airports.
Bio-degradeable geo-textiles, which look like large fishing nets, are being lifted by helicopter in bales on to selected areas of bare peat on the moor. It is then spread by local contractors and pegged on to bare-sided haggs and groughs (deep eroded channels carved into the peat) to reduce erosion and trap sown seed to help increase vegetation on these steep-sided areas.
Chris Dean, programme manager, Moors for the Future Partnership (the project beneficiary), said: “It’s inspiring to see the scale of the works from the air – it looks like large rivers of material protecting the peat. Over time, when the vegetation has been restored, the geo-textiles will break down and decay leaving behind a more healthy moorland, producing a great result for wildlife and people.”
Healthy peat moors:
Bleaklow is one of four sites targeted by MoorLIFE, a £5.5 million project protecting active blanket bog by conserving bare and eroding peat in the South Pennines SAC and SPA. Partners in the MoorLIFE Project include the Environment Agency, Natural England, National Trust, Peak District National Park Authority, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.
15 November 2011A brightly coloured mural illustrating the work of MulkearLIFE, a river restoration project being carried out in County Limerick in Ireland, was completed recently by students of Lios Na Groi, National School, Lisnagry. The children painted in pictures of sea lamprey, atlantic salmon and otter, which have benefited from the project’s actions to restore damaged habitats.
The original sketches were produced by mural artist, Neil O’ Dwyer, and the children’s work added great vitality to the overall composition. The children were congratulated by members of the Annacotty Tidy Town Committee including committee chairperson, Yvonne Fogarty who warmly thanked all the children.
The Mulkear River, which forms part of the Lower Shannon SAC, provides key habitats for a wide range of species. The project is aiming to enhance the populations of Atlantic salmon in the river as well as manage the sea lamprey and reintroduce habitats suitable for otter. Creating awareness among school kids is a central part of the campaign to publicise the aims project and disseminate its results.
04 November 2011The LIFE Nature Houting project (LIFE05 NAT/DK/000153) staged a successful international conference focusing on the restoration of rivers and streams last month. Some 90 participants attended the event at Tønder in Denmark from 03 to 05 October 2011. The conference included a keynote presentation by the coordinators of the Danish project and excursions to several of the sites restored for the benefit of the houting (Coregonus oxyrhynchus), a highly endangered white fish whose reproductive range is limited to six river systems in Denmark.
A total of 17 presentations were given over the course of the conference by experts in fish conservation and watercourse restoration from several EU Member States. This included a second keynote presentation from Martin Janes of the RESTORE project (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032), an ongoing LIFE+ Information & Communication project dedicated to supporting and transferring knowledge for river restoration in Europe.
In addition, 15 organisations took part in a poster presentation session at the conference venue during the three-day event.
Click here for further information about the conference and the LIFE Nature Houting project.