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News: April 2014

LIFE+: European Commission provides €282.6 million for 225 new environment and climate projects


30 April 2014The European Commission has today approved funding for 225 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union's environment fund. The projects selected were submitted by beneficiaries in all 28 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across the EU. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €589.3 million, of which the EU will provide €282.6 million.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “In the final year of the current programming period, the LIFE+ programme once again demonstrates its ability to deliver essential financial support for environmental and nature conservation projects with significant added value for the EU. These latest projects will make a vital contribution to the preservation, conservation and enhancement of Europe’s natural capital, as well as helping to achieve sustainable growth through investment in a low carbon and resource efficient economy. The widely acknowledged success of LIFE+ and its projects has ensured the recent adoption of a new LIFE Regulation for Environment and Climate Action, with an increased budget, for the period 2014-2020”

Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said: "I am happy to see so many innovative projects also this year. And to make them happen, we will contribute with more than €41.2 millionwith a total budget of €109.4 million. An ever rising share of LIFE projects is contributing to climate action. And we want to improve this even more: The new LIFE programme from 2014 to 2020 will foresee over 850 million Euros dedicated to climate action. This will roughly triple the amount which is spent on climate action."

The Commission received 1 468 applications in response to its latest call for proposals, which closed in June 2013. Of these, 225 were selected for co-funding through the programme’s three components: LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity, LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance and LIFE+ Information and Communication. 

Read the full press release in the press section.

Bulgarian LIFE project celebrates return of lesser kestrels from Africa

(LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360

29 April 2014On 18 March, the first lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) introduced to restore this species in Bulgaria returned from its migration to Africa. The LIFE project Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) had imported birds from Spain last year, and introduced them into the mountainous Sakar region in south-eastern Bulgaria. By the end of March, 16 of the introduced birds, plus a male that had accompanied one of the females, had returned from Africa, mated, dug nests and laid eggs.

The LIFE project is coordinated by the NGO Green Balkans. It aims to support and strengthen the population of globally endangered lesser kestrels in Bulgaria, through a series of direct actions and wider public involvement. The project runs until September 2017.

In addition to translocating around 170 chicks from collaborating partner DEMA, a breeding centre in Spain, the project is establishing a captive breeding project in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. Together, these birds provide the basis for establishing a free colony in the Sakar Natura 2000 site.  Although the theoretical expectation for breeding in the first year is not high, the successful return and breeding of the introduced birds is very encouraging for the long-term success of the project.

For further information, see the project’s website:


Rohrschollen Island project restores Rhine connection

LIFE08 NAT/F/000471

24 April 2014The LIFE Nature project Rohrschollen Island (LIFE08 NAT/F/000471) celebrated the reconnection of the river Rhine with the island’s waterways at an event attended by representatives of the coordinating beneficiary and partner organisations.

The event, which took place on 12 March, may have been the culmination of four years of work, but it is only a first step along a path towards the restoration of the island’s alluvial dynamics and the protection of its riparian forests.

The Rohrschollen Island project began in 2010, with the aim of reintroducing the regular dynamic flooding of the Rhine onto the island - located 10 km north of Strasbourg - by the creation of a water intake structure on the island’s south side. This will restore the ecological connections between the island and the river and ensure the survival of the island’s willow and alder wood habitats. The project is part of a wider aim of restoring and preserving Europe’s remarkable gallery forest habitats along the Rhine, Rhone, Danube and Po rivers.

More information available is available from the project website


WECF sets out its recommendations for EU policy on EDCs

LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389

24 April 2014Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) held a Policy Dialogue meeting, ‘Time to Act – Protecting Children's Health from EDCs’ on 19 February 2014 in Brussels. Exposure to EDCs or endocrine-disrupting chemicals is particularly harmful to children’s health, and the meeting was organised to improve the understanding of policy-makers and stakeholders of this problem and increase support for urgent EU action.

WECF is currently coordinating a LIFE project, ChildProtect-Life (LIFE12 ENV/NL/000833), which is aiming to speed-up implementation of EU environmental regulations on the substitution of EDCs, in line with the EU 2020 goal of minimising adverse effects of chemicals on public health. The Brussels meeting was organised with the project partners Gezinsbond and PAN-Europe.

The beneficiary, WECF, is an international network of more than 150 women’s, environmental and health organisations. One of the key priorities for the network is EDCs, which, in the past few decades, have emerged as a key challenge for European environment and health policies. 

Recent scientific evidence shows that action is urgently needed to reduce EDC exposure, especially for women and children. A baby’s development can be irreversibly harmed by EDCs, and growing evidence shows that such exposure may result in permanent health damage to the child’s hormone system.

The Policy Dialogue meeting concluded that immediate steps are necessary to protect this generation of children from the risks of EDCs. Information campaigns, especially targeting pregnant women and parents of young children, should be launched. The meeting also recommended mandatory labelling of children’s goods and food products that contain EDCs. “After a Dutch TV report on EDCs, our mailbox exploded," said Sascha Gabizon, the project leader. "Parents are concerned; they want information and alternatives, but they don’t get access to this information and continue to involuntarily expose their children to EDCs.”

WECF is also campaigning for the mandatory substitution of known endocrine-disrupting chemicals in children's products, neo-natal care and day-care centres with other materials. It also wants an end the delay of the EU EDC criteria and strategy, as well as for national governments to inform pregnant women about safer products and alternatives to EDCs.

The WECF’s policy recommendations on EDCs as well as other material from the meeting (e.g. presentations, films, etc.) can be found here.

LIFE Best Projects 2013: Nature, Environment and Information winners revealed

Best NAT

22 April 2014The Best LIFE projects completed by the end of 2013 will be honoured at two separate award ceremonies taking place in Brussels this spring.

Nature and Information

The first ceremony recognises the achievements of 13 LIFE projects targeting nature conservation and will take place on 29 April 2014. Eleven of the award-winners are LIFE Nature projects; the other two being LIFE Information & Communication projects with a nature conservation focus.

The event, which will feature short presentations by the winning projects, will be held from 17:30 onwards at meeting room 0D of the Centre de Conferences Albert Borschette (CCAB), rue Froissart 36. Brussels. The awards will be made in the presence of the Habitats and Ornis Committees, which are made up of Member State representatives following the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

The top four projects, which will be awarded "Best of the Best" project status are:

  • PLTHautes-Fagnes (LIFE06 NAT/B/000091) – The project restored endangered peatland and wet habitats in the Hautes-Fagnes plateau of the Belgian Ardennes
  • HAPPYFISH (LIFE07 NAT/EE/000120) – This Estonian project restored oxbow lakes in the Emajõgi River and in the Alam-Pedja Natura 2000 site to improve conditions for several EU priority fish species.          
  • AMIBIO (LIFE08 NAT/GR/000539)– This Greek project developed an innovative acoustic biodiversity monitoring system that can operate remotely, quickly and non-obtrusively
  • PROM.SUS.FIS.PR.PRESPA (LIFE09 INF/GR/000319)– The project arrested the decline of fish biodiversity in Greece’s Prespa basin by promoting sustainable fishery practices in compliance with EU policy.     

The other nine projects, which will be awarded ‘Best’ LIFE project status, can be viewed in the Best Projects section.

Environment and Information

Best ENV

The second award ceremony will take place in early June and honours the work of the Best LIFE Environment projects and Best LIFE Information and Communication projects addressing environmental themes completed in 2013.

Six projects have been awarded “Best of the Best” status, five from the LIFE Environment strand and one from LIFE Information & Communication. In chronological order they are:

  • EWWR (LIFE07 INF/F/000185) – By the third year of this project, more than 2 million people participated in over 7 000 events across 20 European countries (EU and non-EU) to mark the European Week for Waste Reduction.
  • WEEELABEX (LIFE07 ENV/B/000041) – The project successfully developed a common and harmonised set of standards with respect to collection, handling, storage, recycling, preparation for re-use and disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), communicated via a WEEE Label of Excellence. Auditors were trained to be able to award the new label to companies that achieved the required standard. 
  • RESCATAME (LIFE08 ENV/E/000107) – The project demonstrated a sustainable traffic management system in the Spanish city of Salamanca. Using multi-sensors placed at critical pollution points and models that predict pollution levels, the project showed a viable solution for managing urban air pollution and ensuring sustainable mobility in cities.  
  • GREEN COMMERCE (LIFE08 ENV/E/000138) – The project developed a free online environmental self-assessment tool to enable small retailers to benchmark their performance against best practices with regard to 11 environmental factors (e.g. waste, noise). More than 300 retailers took part and 187 environmental audits and 100 energy audits were carried out in a second phase of the project.
  • ECO-VITRUM-TRC (LIFE08 ENV/E/000148) – This Spanish project demonstrated the possibility of applying a new integrated management system for cathode ray tubes from old televisions and computer monitors to enable their transformation into a raw material for construction. The project also developed a code of good practice that improved the management of TVs and monitors at municipal collection points and increased recycling rates.
  • ENERG-ICE (LIFE08 ENV/IT/000411) – The project developed an innovative polyurethane foaming technology for manufacturing the insulation filling of fridges and  freezers using cost-efficient blowing agents that are capable of reducing energy consumption of cold appliances in Europe by up to 10% in comparison with current models.

A further 19 exemplary projects have been awarded “Best” project status – 16 LIFE ENV and three LIFE INF can be viewed in the Best Projects section.

The second awards ceremony will be held from 19:00 onwards on 4 June at The Egg Conference Centre (meeting room The Studio), rue Bara 173-177, Brussels. Each of the winning projects will give a short presentation. The event will take place alongside the European Commission’s annual Green Week, the theme of which is “Circular economy – saving resources, creating jobs”. A number of other LIFE Environment projects working in this field will be present.

IMPORTANT: In order to attend LIFE-related events at Green Week, it is necessary to register via the Greenweek Website N.B. It is not possible to register for individual LIFE events; rather, it is essential to complete the general registration form for Green Week to gain access to the venue. Read more on the LIFE@Greenweek Page.

For more information on the selection process and previous winners, including links to project summaries, layman’s reports and websites, visit the Best Projects section of the LIFE website.

There will be an in-depth look at the Best Projects 2013 in two new LIFE publications due out later this year.


Manchester-based project releases films on recycling

LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389

16 April 2014Awareness-raising about recycling is a key focus of UP&FORWARD COMS (LIFE11 ENV/UK/000389), a LIFE Environment project in Greater Manchester, UK. The community-based project has just released two films on recycling as part of its wider campaign to persuade more residents to recycle their household rubbish. The films, produced by students at the University of Bolton, with the help of production company, Bellyfeel, target ‘hard-to-reach’ communities, i.e. inner-city areas that are traditionally low-performing in terms of recycling.

The first film, “Cheetham Hill Community Tidy Up (part 1 and 2)” targets the private rental market and landlords. It shows residents of the Cheetham Hill area coming together for a one-day community tidy up event. The second film, “Eco Faith” worked with religious groups and faith leaders of Oldham, Greater Manchester – choosing the month of Ramadan in 2013, to focus residents’ minds on looking after their environment through recycling.

View the films

The project is run by the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority – England’s largest waste disposal authority, responsible for dealing with 1.1 million tonnes/year of household waste. Spokesperson, Clare Standish, promises “more films will be added soon” by the project, which runs until June 2015.

For more information about the project, visit the project website:

Launch of next LIFE call for projects provisionally set for June


10 April 2014The first call for tender under the new LIFE programme (2014-2020) for Environment and Climate Action is provisionally set to launch 16 June 2014.

The call will cover ‘Traditional’ projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Capacity-Building projects.

It is important to remember that ‘traditional’ projects mean best-practice/demonstration/pilot/information projects (i.e. similar to those currently funded under LIFE+ Nature, Biodiversity, Environment and Information & Communication). The priority topics for ‘traditional’ projects in the Environment sub-programme have been set in the multi-annual work programme for 2014-2017, pages 8-24:

See the provisional calendar of the LIFE 2014 call in the funding section


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