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News: February 2012

Kick-off seminar launches two Danish raised bog projects

Danish Seminars

17 February 2012Two Danish LIFE Nature projects, which were launched in 2011 and focus on restoring raised bogs in "Lille Vildmose" (LIFE10 NAT/DK/000102) and "Sølsted Mose" (LIFE10 NAT/DK/000099), recently held a joint-venture seminar on best practice for raised bog restoration. The restoration of raised bog (7110*) is currently a nature conservation priority In Denmark.

The seminar, which took place on 31 January at the "Lille Vildmose" visitor centre, was an opportunity for leading Danish raised bog experts to make recommendations for achieving a favourable conservation status of raised bog in the two project sites.

The event also highlighted the lessons learned by previous Danish raised bog LIFE projects and the conservation requirements of specific species found in the project areas. While "Lille Vildmose" is the largest raised bog area in Denmark, it is adversely affected by drainage and peat mining. The "Sølsted Mose" area is a degraded raised bog that suffers from poor hydrology and overgrowth. In both areas large restoration efforts that focus on hydrological improvements clearings and species protection will begin this year. An improved knowledge of this priority habitat will also aid restoration initiatives.

To find out more, please read the seminar’s proceedings (in Danish).

Bitterns beginning to boom in Britain

Photo:LIFE96 NAT/UK/003057

15 February 2012After many years of decline, the bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is re-establishing itself in British wetlands. While its subtle brown plumage make it difficult to spot among reeds, its distinctive foghorn-like call or ‘boom’ is being heard again in Britain thanks to conservation efforts co-funded by LIFE. In 1997, the population of bitterns had fallen to 11, and the project, ‘Bittern - Urgent action for the Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) in the UK’ (LIFE96 NAT/UK/003057) was launched to arrest the decline of this bird species, which before the Middle Ages was common in the UK. Its numbers fell first as a result of its desirability as a delicacy, then its interest to taxidermists, and finally the drainage of wetlands. By the end of the project, the beneficiary, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), reported that numbers had recovered to 30.  

A follow-up project, ‘Bittern - Developing a strategic network of SPA reedbeds for Botaurus stellaris’ (LIFE02 NAT/UK/008527) was carried out to expand the range of breeding sites and increase the number of areas suitable for dispersing young and over-wintering birds, The RSPB says that conservation of the bittern has been a "phenomenal success". According to its monitoring report for 2011, there are now 104 booming male bitterns in Britain and a large increase in the number of nesting sites occurred in the past year (from 41 to 63).

But experts at the RSPB remain concerned about the negative impact of climate change. Rising sea levels could result in tides flooding key freshwater habitats, such as the RSPB site at Minsmere in Suffolk, thus making them unsuitable for the bittern. Droughts are another habitat threat. However, Grahame Madge of the RSPB, told The Guardian that the continued upturn in bittern numbers is "a very encouraging trend".

Fens project helps Anglesey community replace village shop

Photo: Justin Toland

09 February 2012As a result of its actions to restore an endangered habitat of North Wales, the LIFE Nature Anglesey and Lleyn Fens project (LIFE07 NAT/UK/000948) is forming an important link with the local community. Whilst the goal of the project is to restore EU Habitats Directive-listed alkaline and calcareous fens through ground works followed by extensive grazing, as project manager Justin Hanson explains in this interview (mp3 file), through its actions, the village of Talwrn on Anglesey has been able to replace a vital part of community life: the village shop.

Such is the appreciation for LIFE's efforts, that, not only has the shop been named after the local project site (Cors Bodeilio), but it will also be used to disseminate information about the project.

This short interview is the first in a series that will appear on the website over the coming months to mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme. In these interviews, we will hear the impact that LIFE has had on lives and communities - from the people themselves. More of these 'LIFE stories' will be gathered in a special LIFE Focus publication - The Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done - which will be available soon. To read more about LIFE's 20th anniversary (or to take part in one of the many events going on across Europe), click here.

Commissioner Potočnik praises LIFE wetlands' projects

Photo: Hans Blossey

06 February 2012Two successful LIFE wetlands-related projects, one in Ireland and the other in Germany, highlight the importance of the LIFE programme for wetland conservation – said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, in a statement to mark World Wetlands Day 2012 (2 February).

Wetlands are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems, with some 50% of all wetlands having disappeared in the last century, said the Commissioner, noting that: "In Europe, the situation is even grimmer, with two thirds of our wetlands having disappeared over the past 100 years."

The EU is a major provider of funds for wetland conservation projects both within and outside Europe, he commented, adding that since 1992, LIFE has co-funded some 120 wetlands-related projects. Almost all of these have been oriented towards nature conservation, reflecting the biodiversity value of the wetland habitats (lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, estuaries, deltas, tidal flats etc).

A good example of restoration is the LIFE project "RRBI - Restoring raised bogs in Ireland" (LIFE04 NAT/IE/000121) coordinated by the Irish forestry board (Coillte Teoranta). By blocking drains, removing trees and shrubs, and restricting access to cattle, the project restored some 570 hectares of raised bog on 14 sites to a favourable conservation status. Raised-bog vegetation is now seen to be returning as the sites become gradually wetter.

Another example is the LIFE Lippe-Aue project (LIFE05 NAT/D/000057) coordinated by the City of Hamm, Germany, which restored over 17 Km of the river Lippe's floodplain. New oxbows, flood channels and shallow ponds were created and the bank stabilisations at the river Lippe were removed. Typical alluvial habitats for a high number of threatened species were thereby created. With the full cooperation of local farmers, areas of intensive land use were transformed to more ‘natural’ extensive grassland areas and alluvial forests.

World Wetlands Day - is held annually on February 02, to mark the day of the adoption of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Read the full statement by the Commissioner, (see News 02/02/2012 World Wetlands Day).

Commission embarks on IAS consultation


02 February 2012The European Commission has begun a period of consultation on a dedicated legislative instrument on invasive alien species (IAS) (27 January to 12 April). It welcomes contributions from all citizens and stakeholder organisations to the new instrument which it aims to develop by 2012.

The Commission adopted a Communication "Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species (2008)" to address the gap in legislation on IAS. Last year, the Commission outlined its aim to ensure that "by 2020, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and their pathways are identified and prioritised, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and pathways are managed to prevent the introduction and establishment of new IAS". The focus of the latest consultation is on the policy measures  that are now being considered based on the input and feedback from all relevant stakeholders since the start of the process in 2008.

IAS are species whose introduction and/or spread, outside their natural past or present distribution, threatens biodiversity. IAS can cause serious damage not only to ecosystems but also to crops and livestock, the local ecology and economy, and human health.

Submit your contribution online as a citizen ; on behalf of an organisation or on behalf of a public authority.

Received contributions will be published on the internet. It is important to read the specific privacy statement attached to this consultation for information on how your personal data and contribution will be dealt with.

Click here for more information.


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