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News: March 2012

LIFE PRIME influences change in Italian environmental law


23 March 2012The Italian Parliament is to change an environmental law to allow the use of beached Posidonia oceanica (algae and seagrass) residues as compost for agricultural purposes. This decision was heavily influenced by the work of the ongoing Italian LIFE+ Environment PRIME project.

Every year many coastal communities face the environmental problem of what to do with the thousands of tonnes of P.oceanica residues that are washed up on Mediterranean beaches. A bill to allow the possible reuse of the biomass as compost for agricultural purposes has been approved by the Italian Senate and is at the Chamber of Deputies for final approval. It contains a clear reference to the favourable results of the LIFE+ PRIME project, “Posidonia Residues Integrated Management for Eco-sustainability(LIFE09 ENV/IT/000061), which runs until 2013, devoted to finding solutions to this major environmental problem.

According to a statement of the website of the Chamber of Deputies,
Changes to the Italian environmental law (152/06) will allow the removal and use for the production of energy or for the reuse for agricultural purposes of the P. oceanica residues, provided the methods and processes do not damage the environment or pose a threat to human health.

The disposal of the residues that are beached, "deeply affects” the budgets of many coastal communes, says the statement, adding that to try and solve this problem, different proposals have been made to find innovative solutions. It praises in particular the work of the LIFE+ PRIME project, as well as other initiatives announced by coastal regions and local authorities. Read the full statement (Italian).

For more infornation about the project, visit the project website.

And the winners are…

20years LOGO

22 March 2012To mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012, the LIFE Units organised two competitions open to all beneficiaries and project partners, past or present: a photo competition and a competition to sum up, in 20 words or less, what LIFE means to you.

From the numerous entries received, a panel of judges had the hard task of selecting the 20 “Best” photos and 20 “Best” texts. This long-list of “Best” entries was then whittled down to select the three “Best of the Best” photos and texts.

Find out who the winners are and view galleries in the LIFE20 website


Wetland project takes giant strides towards improved water management

(Photo:LIFE08 NAT/UK/000199)

14 March 2012An important conservation and access project on the UK's Suffolk coast is making significant progress on improving water management and reducing the impact of disturbance on an incredibly fragile landscape. With support from LIFE+ Nature, the National Trust at Orford Ness and the RSPB at Havergate Island are working together for the benefit of internationally important wildlife, habitats and landscape under the “The Alde-Ore Estuary - Securing a sustainable future for wildlife” project (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000199).

The ‘Ness’ contains some 250 hectares of superb wetland habitats. Recent trends however, have been towards drier springs and early summers and there have been difficulties sustaining adequate water levels on site. “Like many places [in Southern and Eastern England], we have seen relatively little rain over the past year,” said LIFE+ Project Warden, Matthew Guilliatt. “This has caused difficulties for breeding waders. Their new chicks need to be able to feed in the spring and early summer on invertebrates found in shallow water but in particular they also need moist, bare mud that develops in the ‘drawdown zones’ as water evaporates around the edges of scrapes.”

The LIFE+ Nature project has been working through the winter to create a new water management system (the excavation work is being carried out by contractor, Lancaster Earthmoving Ltd, to a design delivered by another project partner, Stirling Maynard). “By deepening existing scrapes and by creating new lagoons, scrapes and ditches we can hold water for longer and create improved habitats to support the rich soup of invertebrates that the wading birds rely on,” says Mr Guilliatt. He adds that “several species, including avocet (Recurvirostra), redshank (Tringa totanus), ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) should benefit and we are expecting to see a rise in breeding numbers of several key species at Orford Ness and Havergate along with improved productivity and survival of chicks.”

The beneficiaries hope that by monitoring water levels using the newly installed gauge boards, adjustments can be made at various points across the site and optimum conditions will be able to be maintained throughout the year. The new system will allow excess water to be pumped out in the winter and bring in water during dry periods through three new sluices from Stoney Ditch. Low bunds and water controls will also hold water at different levels in different compartments and the new ditch system will create a flow of water around the site.

“The recent cold weather has attracted lots of birds to the site,” notes Mr Guilliatt. For instance, he says, “214 avocet have gathered on site, the largest number since 2001. The two spoonbill that have been seen during the winter, along with the little egret (Egretta garzetta), might be a sign that the climate has been warming over recent years as these birds generally prefer warmer areas.”

The project site is also home to several species of mammal which will benefit from new and improved wetlands. Although rarely seen directly, otter (Lutra lutra) footprints are often found in the mud where they cross ditches, and signs of water vole (Arvicola amphibius) are present in the vegetation at the edges of the existing ditches. “As the raw mud of the new features softens with vegetation these species will undoubtedly spread from their currently favoured areas,” says Mr Guilliatt.

In addition to fulfilling their nature conservation objectives, the Alde Ore project team will also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012 at a series of events at Orford Ness and Havergate during the year (for more information, visit the project website).

The new call 2012 is now open!

Call 2012

13 March 2012The sixth LIFE+ call for proposals was published on 13 March 2012, with up to €276 million available for co-financing of projects under three headings: Nature and biodiversity; Environment policy and governance; and Information and communication.

Project proposals should be sent to the relevant national authority no later than 26 September, 2012. National authorities will then send them to the European Commission by 2 October, 2012. The earliest possible starting date for 2012 projects is 1 July, 2013.

Please note that this year applicants must only use the eProposal tool to create and submit proposal(s) under the 2012 LIFE+ Call for Proposals.

For more information on the call, click here.

The Voices of LIFE celebrate 20 years

Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done

07 March 2012The latest LIFE Focus publication is a special edition to mark the 20th anniversary of the LIFE programme in 2012. A joint publication of the LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment units, The Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done focuses on the people who have helped the LIFE programme achieve so much over the last two decades. Featuring interviews with more than 75 individuals from 20 countries, the publication allows people to explain, in their own words, the impact that LIFE co-funding has had on their work, their environment, their communities and their lives.

To read the words of these “voices of LIFE” – from the programme’s founders to its administrators, from governing bodies and public authorities, to citizens of all kinds: farmers to firefighters, schoolchildren to small business owners – is to understand directly the value, impact and inspiration of the LIFE programme.

This new publication also features the top three entries in the photo and summary competitions organised as part of LIFE's 20 anniversary celebrations. To find out more about events taking place across Europe on LIFE's 20th 'birthday' (21 May, 2012), please visit:

Download: The Voices of LIFE: 20 years of getting things done


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