25 June 2012 Waste reduction is a top priority for the EU’s Waste Framework Directive and LIFE has been co-financing a major EU level initiative promoting waste reduction over the last three years. Using support from the LIFE Information & Communication component, the ‘European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR)’ project has made beneficial progress in raising awareness about this important European policy goal across many countries.
LIFE’s inputs into the EWWR came to a conclusion recently with the project’s final conference, held in Paris. The conference focused on the important role that effective communication methods can play in promoting opportunities for reducing the amount of waste that society creates.
Speakers from six different countries (BE, IE, UK-Scotland, PT, IT & ES) presented and discussed a range of successful, often innovative, approaches to communicating waste reduction messages. Some 450 people attended the ‘EWWR’ project’s dissemination event, which was also designed to act as part of the LIFE 20 Years celebrations.
By networking such experience exchanges, the LIFE project contributed to other aspects of its work which includes providing an international platform for cooperation and knowledge transfer on low-cost/high-value waste reduction actions.
During the conference an award ceremony was held to recognise and applaud good practice examples of these types of waste reduction actions - which do not require significant investments but produce valuable contributions to the Waste Framework Directive objectives.
Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, congratulated the LIFE project and its award-winners through a video message that was broadcast at the conference.
Five prize categories made up the EWWR award scheme and these covered different types of waste reduction actions by: administrations and public sector authorities; NGOs and associations; business and industry; education establishments; with a final category available for EWWR actions carried out by other types of promoters.
Award-winners were selected from more than 7 000 different EWWR actions that took place during November 2011 in 32 countries throughout Europe and beyond. Out of these, 89 were pre-selected and submitted to an independent jury made up of European waste management specialists representing each category.
Austrian applicants from the agricultural and winery sector in Styria won the prize in the administration category for their efforts to increase the re-use of wine bottles.
Turkey’s Junior Chamber International Izmir took home the NGO award for an effective waste reduction project involving a beach clean-up as well as work raising awareness among schools, businesses and consumers.
Business & industry category winners came from Belfast in the UK, where a social enterprise providing student accommodation services received recognition for its successful approach to recycling materials and minimising carbon footprints.
Sweden’s Bjurhovda School Restaurant received the award for the best EWCC action in 2011 taken forward by an education establishment. Here, the focus was on reducing food waste through a novel approach to highlighting how much food could be saved by changing behaviour.
A project taking place in 162 nursing homes throughout France won the prize in the ‘others’ category. This initiative was acknowledged for its ability to encourage younger and older generations to work together to tackle waste challenges.
Full details about the EWWR award scheme can be found on the project website, which includes reference to the special additional prize that was awarded to the Catalan Waste Agency in recognition of its long-term achievements throughout the LIFE project’s duration.
12 June 2012 To mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012, the LIFE Units have published a special brochure - The Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done - containing interviews with some of the many people who have been involved with and benefitted from the LIFE programme over the last two decades.
As an extra feature in this, the 20th anniversary month, you can listen to extracts from some of the interviews below. Hear the Head of the LIFE Nature Unit, Angelo Salsi , discussing the outstanding achievements of the LIFE programme and Frank Vassen , one of the few people to have been a LIFE project manager, monitor and Desk Officer within the LIFE Unit, highlighting the value and importance of the programme's bottom-up approach, the scale of its projects and the importance of EU recognition for those projects.
Listen too to project beneficiaries, including Father Gregorios Gregoriatis from the Holy Community of Mount Athos in Greece, who explains why his experience of LIFE was very 'restful'. From Hungary, Ferenc Oláh and János Király illustrate how LIFE co-funding can help persuade farmers such as themselves to restore traditional grazing on Natura 2000 network sites sites and can change views on nature conservation.
Ákos Baracsy , who helps out with a Hungarian viper conservation programme, explains why it's good to be a LIFE project volunteer; and Rona Dixon , a schoolteacher in London, shows how LIFE's work to restore a river in a local park has greatly improved the learning experience for her pupils, and in a cost effective way. Finally, Jørgen Modvig , technical manager at the Danish supermarket chain, REMA 1000, recalls the excitement of working on the eco-innovative LIFE Environment project, CO2REF, and points out the 'great value' for his company of this project.
08 June 2012 Restoration actions carried out under the LIFE project, ‘Danube birds conservation’ (LIFE07 NAT/SK/000707), are greatly benefitting sand martins (Riparia riparia) at one site in Slovakia. Restoration last year of a 200 m-section of steep river bank, a traditional nesting site for the bird species, has led to their return in high numbers.
Tomas Kusik of the BROZ Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development, the project beneficiary, said: “A couple of years ago, no nesting was recorded, but after our restoration action, 970 pairs are now nesting there!”
The overall objective of the project is to improve the conservation status of the floodplain bird species in the Natura 2000 sites: SPA Dunajské luhy (Slovakia) and SPA Szigetkoz (Hungary). It planned to achieve this aim by restoring selected wetlands, dried-up river branches and oxbows; restoring river branch connectivity, water regime and flowing water conditions; leasing or purchasing land following the introduction of appropriate habitat management; eliminate fish migration barriers at two strategic points and restoring birds’ food base; restoring abandoned meadows as feeding and nesting bird habitats; restoring birds’ refuges and nesting areas by planting native tree species; implement measures preventing unintentional and/or illegal disturbance of the target bird species populations; acquiring relevant scientific data on target species and their habitats; and raising awareness among key stakeholders and the public.
The Danube inland delta was once one of the largest and most diverse natural wetland complexes in central Europe. But large parts of it have been destroyed over the past few decades, and urgent action is required to reverse the decline in flora and fauna including such floodplain bird species as black stork, night heron, little egret and sand martin