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News: June 2014

Annual Compilations of new LIFE projects published

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

30 June 2014The Annual Compilations of new LIFE+ projects are now online. From the 2013 call for proposals, the European Commission has selected 125 projects for co-funding under the Environment Policy & Governance strand; 92 projects under LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity strand of the programme; and eight new environmental awareness projects in six countries under LIFE+ Information & Communication.

The Environment Policy & Governance strand supports pilot projects that contribute to the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments. Total investment in this strand will come to €318.5 million, of which the EU will provide €130.8 million.

The LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity projects, which aim to improve the conservation status of endangered species and habitats, are carried out by partnerships of conservation bodies, government authorities and other parties located across 25 Member States. In total, they represent an investment of €233.9 million, of which the EU will contribute €133.9 million.

Projects funded under the LIFE+ Information & Communication programme will highlight environmental issues as well as provide training on the prevention of forest fires. The EU will contribute €3.9 million towards a total budget of €8.3 million for this strand.

The annual compilations can be downloaded from the LIFE website.

Spanish LIFE project wins Regional Environment Award

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431

24 June 2014The Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon has awarded its 2014 Prize for the Environment to the LIFE+ project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000431). The project, run by the local authority (Comarca) of Los Monegros, won the prize in the ‘Local Government’ category at the 16th annual awards ceremony held in Zaragoza on 5 June 2014, World Environment Day.

CREAMAgua created wetlands and riverbank forests to act as natural filters to reduce the run-off of inorganic nutrients - nitrates and phosphates - and salts from agricultural land into rivers. It was led by the local authority, but worked actively with local farmers in the management of the wetland areas.

In accepting his prize, the President of the Comarca of Los Monegros, Ildefonso Salillas, sought to highlight that the CREAMAgua project, “Shows the important role that local authorities can play in improving environmental management.” He stressed the value of the project in “improving water quality and promoting biodiversity in agricultural areas”, whilst “supporting local economic development”.

Mr Salilas also highlighted the importance of cooperation involving different stakeholders: “CREAMAgua has demonstrated that, when you all row in the same direction, you can make significant achievements with positive knock-on effects for the common good,” he said. Mr Salilas also thanked the regional government for helping to raise awareness of the project and its achievements by awarding the prize, which it shared with another project in the Municipality of Monreal del Campo.

For more information on LIFE CREAMAgua, visit the project website www.creamagua.com

EC launches platform for resolving human-large carnivore conflicts

Photo: LIFE02 TCY/CRO/014

20 June 2014Populations of brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), wolverine (Gulo gulo) and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are stabilising or increasing in EU Member States, after a long period of decline. Improved protection in Natura 2000 network sites and greater public awareness of nature conservation has enabled these large carnivores to return to areas from which they have long been absent. However, this can bring them into increasing conflict with human activities. Over 70 LIFE projects have focused on large carnivores and many of these have involved conflict reduction measures, as described in the LIFE Focus publication ‘LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores’.

The European Commission launched the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores on 10 June 2014, to help solve at a European level the social and economic problems that can sometimes result from an increase in large carnivore numbers. This framework supports constructive dialogue between key stakeholders and organisations, including farmers, livestock producers, conservationists, hunters, foresters, landowners, scientists and the wider public, who all perceive large carnivores in different ways. The Platform facilitates exchange of knowledge and best practices, such as that gained during LIFE projects, and promote actions that minimise conflict where humans and large carnivores share the same land.

On launching the Platform, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "We need to treat our natural neighbours with respect – but we also need to heed the concerns of those whose lives are genuinely affected by their close proximity. My warm congratulations go to the organisations that have worked together to set up this important Platform, which represents a major step forward in efforts to address the issue of peaceful coexistence."

The eight European stakeholder associations that have signing the Platform agreement are: CIC – The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation; COPA-COGECA – European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives; ELO - European Landowners’ Organisation; EUROPARC Federation; FACE – The European Federation of Associations for Hunting & Conservation; Joint representative of Finnish and Swedish reindeer herders; IUCN – The International Union for Conservation of Nature, European Union Representative Office; and WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature, European Policy Office.

The Platform will adopt terms of reference and a work plan during its first working session (June 2014), following which there will be one annual meeting and additional workshops on selected topics. A web-based resource centre will serve as the main tool to disseminate information.

‘LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores’ is available to read here.

New arrival in yelkouan nest box

Photo:LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090

19 June 2014Following an earlier success (reported in May 2014) on the website of the LIFE+ MALTA SEABIRD PROJECT (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090) - of a first occupant of an artificial nest box by a yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) - the LIFE team has just revealed the arrival of a “fluffy, fast growing chick”. A delighted spokesperson says: “This is Malta’s first chick to hatch and grow inside an artificial nest.” During the day, the LIFE team explains, the parents already leave the chick alone – returning to feed it with “regurgitated squid and fish” during the night.

More successful seabird nest news is expected as the 2011-2016 project progresses, especially as the project team is being supported by a rat eradication programme, which is being run in the species’ main breeding colony, on the isle of Rdum tal-Madonna. Rats are an invasive species to the Maltese isles and as the yelkouan lays just one egg per year, rat predation on their eggs and chicks is a major threat.

The project’s main aim to identify marine ‘Important Bird Areas’ for the three species of tubenoses seabirds breeding in Malta – namely the yelkouan shearwater, Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea) and European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus). For more information on the project, see the project website.

2014 Call for LIFE Action Grants now open!

LIFE 2014 Call

18 June 2014The first call for action grants for the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action (2014-2020) is now open. For further information, application forms and guidance documents go directly to the call page.

The Commission invites legal persons (entities) registered in the European Union (EU) to present proposals for the 2014 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants. The call covers proposals for both LIFE sub-programmes.

For the sub-programme for Environment, this call will cover action grants "Traditional" projects, Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Capacity Building projects. For the sub-programme for Climate Action, this call will cover action grants only for "Traditional" projects and Capacity Building projects (the other types will be covered from 2015 onwards).

Proposals may be submitted by legal persons (entities) registered in the EU. Applicants may fall into three types of beneficiaries: (1) public bodies, (2) private commercial organisations and (3) private non-commercial organisations (including NGOs).

Applicants must use the LIFE 2014 application packages (in English only) for the preparation of their proposals. Each application package contains full and detailed explanations with regard to eligibility, procedures, co-financing rates and all other relevant details. These can be downloaded below. For "Traditional" projects, applicants must use only the eProposal tool to create and submit proposal(s). Access is provided via this link. All other types of projects must use the application forms provided in the corresponding application package. Please note that the conditions laid down in each document in each application package will be binding on the successful applicants, so please read them carefully.

The total budget for project action grants for this call is EUR 283 122 966. Of this, EUR 238 862 966 is foreseen for the sub-programme for Environment and EUR 44 260 000 for the sub-programme for Climate Action. At least 55% of the budgetary resources allocated to projects supported by way of action grants under the sub-programme for Environment shall be dedicated to projects supporting the conservation of nature and biodiversity.

Applicants may not be clear which EU funding programme (LIFE or other programme) or which part of LIFE is most suited to their needs. In addition to the information below, some further but limited guidance may be found in this orientation document.

Possible support by national authorities: Member States may, on a voluntary basis, provide support to applicants and therefore invite applicants to let them see their draft proposals before a certain date which will be earlier than the formal deadline (see above). Providing your draft proposal to the national authority that offers such help is not compulsory. For further details, please contact your National Contact Point.

For further information, application forms and guidance documents go directly to the call page

Hungarian LIFE projects host International conference on conservation in military areas

conference on conservation in military areas

10 June 2014An international conference on nature in military areas was recently held in Veszprém, Hungary under the framework of two LIFE projects, the Hungarian Little Plain project (LIFE08 NAT/H/000289) and the Eastern Bakony project (LIFE07 NAT/H/000321).

The event, which highlighted good examples of habitat protection in areas used by military forces, brought together 99 participants from 13 countries for a three-day conference in the historic town of Veszprém (14-16 May 2014). 

The use of protected areas by the military is common practice in many countries in Europe, and conservation experts face similar challenges: illegal waste disposal, the spread of invasive species, rehabilitation of degraded habitats and the demolition of abandoned military buildings. Exchange of information and best practices is thus vital, and the conference underlined the importance of communication.

The conference featured more than 20 case studies. Biologists, ecologists and environmental experts gave presentations on nature conservation and rehabilitation of sand land habitats, whilst representatives of defence ministries and NATO were invited to address the military aspects of land management.

In fact, the trend towards less intensive military training in these areas is allowing more interventions in favour of nature. Military forces can be a valuable partner in nature conservation. For example, attendees at the conference learnt that that US military forces use aerial photography to monitor the effectiveness of land management interventions, thus saving time and resources.

The conference also included presentations by András Demeter from the European Commission and by the LIFE Communications Team (Lucie Trokanova). They outlined the requirements of LIFE projects, the means employed to monitor them and the importance of best practices in communication and dissemination activities.

conference on conservation in military areas

Field trips were organised on the second and third days to LIFE project sites to view first-hand the results of conservation actions. The Eastern Bakony project restored EU priority habitats (Sub-Pannonic steppic grasslands, Pannonian woods, Medio-European calcareous screes) and protected priority species (Serratula lycopifolia and Falco cherrug) in the Eastern Bakony military area. The Hungarian Little Plain project has also restored degraded habitats (notably, the endangered Pannonic sand habitats), including those areas where the military carries out exercises.

Bad weather curtailed the visit to the Eastern Bakony project, which was replaced by an ad-hoc workshop that gave attendees the opportunity to discuss and share good practices. The weather improved on day three, enabling delegates to learn more about the management of invasive species, mosaic fire management, sand dunes and the collection of seeds for planting in the area covered by the Hungarian Little Plain project.

Hungary represents a good model for other countries in Europe to follow. A wide range of stakeholders are being engaged in conservation initiatives on military lands. Feedback from attendees underscored the need to continue such valuable dialogue between military bodies and conservationists and to support further meetings and conferences.

For more information, visit http://www.kisalfoldilife.hu/en/content/life-military

Exemplary LIFE projects support transition to a circular economy

Awards@Greenweek

06 June 2014The Best LIFE Environment projects and Best LIFE Information and Communication projects addressing environmental themes completed in 2013 were recognised at an award ceremony in Brussels on 4 June. The ceremony took place alongside the annual EU Green Week, which this year was on the theme, “Circular economy – saving resources, creating jobs”.

Following an introduction from Timo Mäkelä, Director of Global and Regional Challenges and LIFE, DG Environment, European Commission, the awards were presented by Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA). In his keynote address, Dr Bruyninckx said that, “Many of the issues that have been tackled in LIFE projects have found their way into [the EEA’s] reporting and our knowledge base, so we have a keen interest in the work that all of you have been doing.”

He added that many LIFE projects, “Also have a close connection to the theme of this Green Week. When we look at sustainability futures in Europe we are framing them increasingly under three broad categories which are embedded in the 7th Environmental Action Programme, the climate and energy package and a number of other policy initiatives – the low carbon society; economic resilience; and the circular economy.”

Dr Bruyninck highlighted the fact that many projects funded under LIFE during the previous cycle (2007-2013) have been addressing these core agendas for Europe, “But as we are entering the 7th EAP with a horizon of 2020, of 2050, the innovation that we find in many of these projects will be an inspiration for the European institutions and for Member States and for a number of other actors that are engaging in them.”

LIFE and Europe’s long-term environmental goals

The EEA’s new five-year working programme stresses the importance of ‘co-creation’ of knowledge, something that Dr Bruyninckx believes the LIFE programme has already shown is possible through LIFE+ projects’ involvement of a broad range of actors. Furthermore, he added that, “As our understanding of environmental and climate challenges is improving, so is the focus of the LIFE project. There is a lot more attention on systemic understanding of environment, meaning that environmental issues are at the core of our societal systems - think of the food and agricultural system; our system of transport and mobility; our energy system - which means that actually these projects are not at the fringes of society but go to the heart and soul of our systems of production and consumption.”

Dr Bruyninckx believes that “framing policies in the light of 2050 is a fundamental innovation in Europe's policy agenda.” In concluding his address, he said that, “Member States made the right decision to go for a next cycle of LIFE projects and if we can focus the next 3.4 billion euros on that long-term transitional agenda I think it will be worthwhile.”

The winning projects

A total of 25 projects were recognised at the award ceremony, including six particularly exemplary “Best of the Best” projects, which also gave short presentations of their achievements. In chronological order, the six were:

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.

The 19 “Best” projects for 2013 – 16 LIFE ENV and three LIFE INF – were as follows (again listed in chronological order):

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.

A selection of photographs from the awards ceremony will be available soon on the LIFE Flickr stream

UK project launches web tool for compost and recycled aggregate producers

EQual LOGO

02 June 2014The UK LIFE project EQual (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000176), has launched its first online resource, the Quality Protocol (QP) Checker web tool for compost and recycled aggregates.

Launched at the Organics Recycling Conference 2014, the tool provides an easy, step-by-step guide for producers to assess whether their product meets the requirements of the relevant QP and has achieved End-of Waste (EoW) status.

The online tool, which was developed in close cooperation with the Organics Recycling Group (ORG), one of the project partners, is designed to help users to understand and apply QP procedures. It creates a user report that documents performance and pinpoints areas where improvement is needed. It can also be used as an internal audit check for established QP-compliant producers and provides a template for regulatory enforcement officers to support more consistent compliance-assessment procedures.

For producers in the aggregates industry, the QP Checker tool offers a quality checklist and feedback to help them meet the necessary QP requirements. For the compost industry, the tool will also save producers time and money by providing guidance and feedback before they go through the formal process of being audited and certified to the PAS 100 specification.

The tool can also be adapted and expanded to other waste streams. The ORG already has prepared content for an Anaerobic Digestate (AD) QP Checker and a Tyre-Derived Rubber Materials (TDRM) QP Checker is in development.

“The QP Checker tool is a valuable resource to assist recycled aggregates producers in developing new quality management systems, and auditing existing systems, to ensure compliance,” said John Barritt, Special Advisor on Built Environment, WRAP.

The QP Checker tool can be found at www.qpchecker.info

EQual aims to increase the range and volume of materials that are recycled in Europe by developing and promoting new EoW quality protocols. The project says that by increasing industry’s ability to produce, and consumer confidence to use quality waste-derived products, it will help deliver the EU’s Waste Thematic Strategy.  

For more information, visit the project website.

 

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