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News: November 2013

New publication out!The Best LIFE-Environment Projects 2012

Best LIFE-Nature Projects 2012

27 November 2013 The Best LIFE Environment projects 2012 publication profiles those environment projects that were completed by the end of 2012 and were acknowledged at the LIFE Environment Awards as having achieved outstanding results. For the ninth consecutive year, the awards highlighted best practices and innovative actions that can be replicated in other areas of Europe.

This year, a total of 13 LIFE projects were honoured with the accolade, 'Best' LIFE Environment project, while a further four projects were selected for special praise as 'Best of the Best' LIFE Environment projects. The four 'Best of the Best' projects achieved great advances in water management and demonstrated a range of transferable measures. All 17 winners are featured in this publication. They collectively highlight the huge potential of the LIFE programme for helping Member States implement environmental policy on a national and European level.

Download The Best LIFE Environment projects 2012 publication.

If you are interested in ordering a printed copy of this and other LIFE Focus publications, please visit the ordering publications section of the LIFE website end of January 2014


New LIFE programme budget gets green light from Parliament


25 November 2013 The European Parliament approved the budget for the next LIFE programme on Thursday 21 November 2013. The new ‘LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action’ has a budget of EUR 3.1 billion for environmental projects carried out by public or private bodies, 2014-2020.

 “This is less than Parliament requested, but still a clear increase over the [2007-13] budget of 2.2 billion euros,” pointed out European Parliament rapporteur, Jutta Haug (S&D, DE). “LIFE is a small but extremely successful and popular EU funding instrument.... We therefore voted to continue and strengthen this programme... [to face up to] new tasks and challenges,” she said.

The new LIFE programme will notably prioritise projects around climate action and resource efficiency. Indeed, the budget earmarks EUR 864 million for a dedicated sub-programme for climate action. “Given the success of [current LIFE+ climate change projects] and the urgency for innovative action and best practices on climate change, [this issue] was upgraded to a separate sub-programme to which a quarter of the LIFE budget is dedicated,” explained Ms Haug.

The programme will also fund new ‘integrated projects’ using joint funding from more than one EU programme or other source of funding (national, regional or private sector) to tackle key issues such as water, waste, air quality and nature protection. As Ms Haug noted, “LIFE is the only instrument of the EU budget exclusively dedicated to financing environment- and climate-related projects - but it is an extremely small one, corresponding to only 0.3% of the EU budget. Integrating environment and climate into major EU funds such as the regional or agriculture funds thus remains crucial!”

Projects will be selected for funding solely on the basis of their quality and demonstration potential - a more transparent method than the current national allocations. Capacity-building measures are being introduced to help countries and regions with a low current selection rate of LIFE projects to achieve higher project quality.

”I now encourage countries and regions to make use of this opportunity – specific funds will be available to help with the preparation and setting up of an integrated project,” concluded Ms Haug.

The next step for the new LIFE Regulation is its adoption by the European Council by the end of the year.

SfEP Thematic Issue on LIFE Projects

SfEP Thematic Issue on LIFE Projects

18 November 2013 Science for Environmental Policy (SfEP) provides an information service on the latest policy-relevant environmental findings in Europe.  SfEP is a news and information service published by the European Commission’s DG Environment. It’s aim isto help the busy policy-maker keep up-to-date with the latest environmental research findings needed to design, implement and regulate effective policies. SfEP publishes both weekly News Alerts and monthly Thematic Issues. The latest Thematic Issue (October 2013, Issue 43) is dedicated to LIFE projects.

The forward of the LIFE Project issue is a guest editorial by Gabriella Camarsa and João Pedro Silva, Senior Experts on ‘Environment’ and ‘Nature and Biodiversity’, respectively, within the LIFE Communications Team (ASTRALE GEIE – AEIDL). The first part of the 16-page publication concerns LIFE Environment projects, focusing on water resource management, wastewater treatment, and the recycling and reuse of industrial waste materials. The second part of the Thematic Issue looks at LIFE Nature projects that have benefitted species and habitats within the EU Natura 2000 network of nature reserves. Peer-reviewed research publications arising from 10 LIFE co-funded projects are used to illustrate the range of contributions LIFE projects make to environmental policy.

SfEP’s ‘Thematic Issue: LIFE Projects’ is available to download as a pdf:

Further information concerning SfEP visit:

LIFE+ project awarded Spanish sustainability prize

Photo:LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

14 November 2013 The LIFE+ project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431) has been awarded a runners-up prize in the 2013 edition of the Conama Prize for sustainability. The Conama Foundation set up the prize in 2008 to recognise the best initiatives by small and medium-sized Spanish municipalities in promoting environmental sustainability.

CREAMAgua has been recognised for its work to create and restore 16 wetland areas and 70 ha of riparian habitat along the River Flumen in Los Monegros, Spain. The project has achieved improved biodiversity in and around the river – especially in the form of waterbirds. Early indications suggest that water quality has also improved in the river, through the filtration of nitrates and phosphates flowing from agricultural land.

The project received its runners-up award in the category of municipalities of 5 000 to 30 000 inhabitants. The beneficiary is the local authority of Los Monegros, a comarca with nearly 9 000 inhabitants located in Aragon in north-east Spain. The project was recognised for its environmental results as well as its successful efforts to co-operate with local people and especially farmers.

The President of the Comarca, Ildefonso Salillas, was delighted with the award, which “helps to show what local administrations can do to implement new solutions to environmental challenges and participate effectively in managing and improving the natural environment.” He also highlighted that the prize “recognises and raises the visibility of this [successful] demonstration project co-funded by LIFE+.”
The Conama Prize seeks to give public recognition to those local authorities doing the most to improve environmental sustainability and raise the profile of successful projects which can provide examples to other local authorities. For more information on the prize and this year’s winners, visit (in Spanish).

For more information on the LIFE+ project CREAMAgua - which had the full title “Creation and restoration of aquatic ecosystems for improvement of water quality and biodiversity in agricultural basins” – please visit the project website

WALPHY river restoration project holds final conference

Photo: LIFE07 ENV/B/000038

13 November 2013 The final conference of the WALPHY project (LIFE07 ENV/B/000038), which was held 15-17 October at the Palais des Congrès in Namur, Belgium, attracted a total of 210 people from eight countries to share experiences and learn more about improving the hydromorphological conditions of waterways.

The conference was an opportunity to present the results of the WALPHY project, as well as enabling river management professionals, scientific experts and representatives of competent authorities to exchange information.

The two days of presentations covered four themes: the re-meandering of rivers; the diversity of habitats; free ecological movement; and useful methodologies. A field trip to visit the sites of the project was organised on the third day.

The WALPHY project, whose full title is ‘Design of a decision tool for hydromorphological restoration of water bodies in Walloon Region’, aimed to develop and test new methodologies for rivers at risk of not achieving good ecological status by 2015.

Based on a previous successful collaboration, works were carried out by the regional authority in cooperation with specialist departments of the universities of Liege and Namur. The River Meuse basin upstream of Andenne, near Namur, was selected as an experimentation area. The project has improved the conditions on a combined stretch of 15 km of the Bocq and the Eau Blanche, developing or removing a total of 18 dams. The project also has transferable lessons, having developed a practical and transferable methodology and a pedagogical path and produced a documentary about its work.

The LIFE Communications Team was present at the final conference with a stand presenting LIFE Focus publications on Rivers and the Water Blueprint.

New publication out! Best LIFE-Nature Projects 2012

pilot study on soil-related LIFE projects

12 November 2013 The EU Member States represented on the LIFE Committee and the European Commission's LIFE Nature Unit have announced the Best LIFE Nature Projects 2012.

The 8 projects selected represent the most successful of the recently completed LIFE Nature projects, in terms of best practices and/or demonstration actions on nature conservation and the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.


Download: Best LIFE Nature Projects 2012


New study assesses LIFE's impact on soil

pilot study on soil-related LIFE projects

08 November 2013 A pilot study on soil-related LIFE projects has been published by the LIFE Monitoring Team. The study analysed the contribution of the LIFE programme to the implementation, dissemination and further development of EU environmental policies and legislation in this area.

This latest study forms part of a series of thematic studies and follows the publication of analyses of LIFE’s impact on the water sector and on noise and air. The aim of the studies is to strengthen the link between the LIFE Units in charge of the management of operational projects and the Thematic Units dealing mainly with environmental policy.

All 39 soil-related LIFE projects carried out in the period 2000-2011 were included in the latest study. Many of these projects have helped shape and implement the goals of the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection (COM (2006) 231). The main results of the soil study are as follows:

  • All the selected projects deal with one or more of the threats to soils identified in the Soil Thematic Strategy, thus reinforcing the need for a specific directive that enforces the protection of soils and their sustainable use.
  • A particular strength of soil-related projects is their integrated approach to addressing several problems at once. Soil protection can also benefit efforts to prevent water pollution or landslides.
  • The absence of LIFE Information and Communication projects dealing with soils shows that this theme is very complex and that the most effective channels communicating its importance still need to be identified and tested.
  • Only a few projects include surveys and studies of the characteristics of soils– an adequate level of knowledge on this natural resource at European level is still to be attained and further efforts to harmonise this knowledge are required.
  • Several LIFE projects dealing with habitat restoration do not adequately assess the positive effects their actions might have on soils.
  • The most recent threats, such as loss of soil because of sealing in urban areas or hydrogeological issues in disadvantaged areas, have only been partially tackled by LIFE projects.
  • European initiatives should focus on the theme of prevention of pollution rather than exclusively on soil remediation and the removal of pollutants.
  • For projects implemented over a vast area, the spatial variability of soils within a specific territory is often a crucial issue. If not properly addressed, this technical problem can diminish the success of the project.

The report concludes: “As a general overview of the soil-related projects, it can be stated that the results achieved frequently address in a proper way the objectives set by European legislation and by the projects themselves.

“Even though no project explicitly proposes new legislation on soil, many projects provide input that can be favourably used in the further development of European and national laws, especially in the regulations of specific environmental strategies.”

 To download a pdf of the Soil Sector Report, click here.


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