30 September 2014 The LIFE Monitoring Team has published a thematic report on marine-related LIFE projects. Subtitled ‘The future of Europe’s seas’, the 116-page study analyses the LIFE programme’s contribution to protecting and improving the marine environment.
Previous studies have analysed LIFE’s impact on the water sector, noise and air and soil.
The principal objectives of the Marine Thematic Report were as follows:
The report’s authors (Dr Lynne Barrett, John Houston, Chris Rose and Dan Mitchell) analysed a total of 72 LIFE projects that took place between 2005 and 2012 in terms of means of intervention, cross-cutting issues, good environmental status (GES) and POMs. Following this initial analysis, 21 projects were selected for more detailed SWOT assessment based on their ability to contribute to seven special project areas - maintaining biodiversity; reconstruction and remediation; inventories; reducing/re-using fishing discards; contaminated sediments; reducing atmospheric emissions from shipping; and avoiding conflict and conflict resolution.
The authors found that marine-related LIFE projects are evenly split between the Nature (NAT) and Environment (ENV) strands of the LIFE programme and the means of delivery is also evenly split between management measures (mainly NAT projects) and the development of new technologies (mainly ENV projects).
The analysis of cross-cutting issues encompassed governance, stakeholder engagement, maritime spatial planning, ecosystem-based approaches, and transboundary issues. One key finding of the report is that LIFE projects are exceptionally good at stakeholder engagement. The authors also found that there are many marine-related LIFE projects that deal in some way with transboundary issues, although more could be done to include non-Member States in such projects.
In terms of GES, the report notes that “there are many good examples of projects contributing to maintaining biodiversity and good ecosystem health and the majority either promote management measures to achieve good conservation status within existing marine protected areas or establish new protected areas within a network.”
Marine-related ENV projects tend to focus more on resolving pressures on the marine environment, such as contaminants and marine litter.
In terms of Programmes of Measures, the authors say that: “The majority of projects did demonstrate one or more of the POMs listed in the Marine Strategy and some projects had a combination of more than one measure up to a maximum of five. The most commonly occurring POMs were input controls (measures controlling human activity) and output controls (measures controlling perturbation).”
In conclusion, the report states that “LIFE projects can make a significant contribution to the understanding and future implementation of the MSFD.” However, to do so, it is necessary to capture and include the output from the projects in the decision-making process. The report provides suggestions as to how this may be achieved.
To download the Marine Thematic Report and other previous studies, click here.
26 September 2014 The Vindel River LIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/S/000266) has concluded by staging an international conference on stream restoration entitled ‘Reviving waters’. The three-day event, which was held in Lycksele, Sweden from 22-24 September 2014, gathered 104 attendees from seven EU Member States for some 30 presentations, a poster session and a field trip to project sites.
Speakers included academic researchers and river restoration practitioners drawn from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ireland and the UK. LIFE projects represented included MulkearLIFE in Ireland (LIFE07 NAT/IRL/000342), LIVEDRAVA in Slovenia (LIFE11 NAT/SI/000882), UC4LIFE (LIFE10 NAT/SE/000046) and ReMiBar (LIFE10 NAT/SE/000045) in Sweden and the UK project, RESTORE (LIFE09 INF/UK/000032). There was also a presentation on the preparation of Finland’s first proposal for an Integrated Project (on freshwaters), a new category of LIFE project introduced this year.
As well as practical examples of stream and river restoration, the conference highlighted the importance of stakeholder consultation and involvement, as well as the need for long-term monitoring of the effects of restoration actions.
To download abstracts from the conference, click here.
The Vindel River LIFE project has carried out works on 22 tributaries that make up a 44 km stretch of the Vindel river system in northern Sweden, for instance removing dams and providing bypass channels. The project’s actions, which included a suite of innovative ‘demonstration restoration’ measures, have been designed to achieve a 'good status' for the river waters - as defined by the Water Framework Directive - and a good conservation status for the Habitats Directive-listed species in the project area.
For further information about Vindel River LIFE, visit the project website: http://vindelriverlife.se
25 September 2014 Greater Manchester-based (UK) recycling project, LIFE+ UP and Forward has added three more films to its awareness raising campaign to persuade hard to reach communities to recycle more of their household rubbish. The project, which runs until June 2015, has also held its first seminar – attracting professionals in the field of recycling from across the UK. The films, produced by students at the University of Bolton with the help of production company Bellyfeel, target inner-city areas of Greater Manchester (North West England) that are traditionally low-performing in terms of recycling.
The first film, “The Recycler” is a comedy drama about a woman who is confused about her household recycling until a local ‘ambassador’ comes to her ‘rescue’ in the style of an action film. The second film, “Beat the Bin Men” is about a fun recycling game for local residents and depicts people floundering around in gunge and enjoying inflatable obstacle courses. The third film, “Golden Ticket” shows the awarding of a prize for community recycling to a local school.
Click to view the films.
Meanwhile, the project (LIFE11 ENV/000389) held its first seminar on 3 September 2014 at the central location of Bridgewater Hall. The main aim of the learning day was to provide delegates – recycling professionals from other parts of the UK – with information about the project’s experiences that could hopefully then be adapted to other areas and communities. It was also a chance for networking and exchange of ideas.
Following a presentation about the project – which is being run by the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, England’s largest waste disposal authority – delegates then selected to attend one of several workshops on themes that included: creating volunteer opportunities; incorporating faith and culture; and working with the private rental sector.
For more information about the project, visit the project website.
15 September 2014 Dryden Aqua has been announced as one of 12 UK finalists for the 2014 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). Presented by the European Commission every two years, the EBAE recognise and reward European companies that set an example by successfully bringing together innovation, economic viability and environmental concerns.
A Scotland-based SME, Dryden Aqua is one of only four UK finalists for the product & service category, where it is competing with its Activated Filter Media (AFM) technology. AFM is a chemically-altered filtration medium manufactured from recovered green container glass that was developed with the assistance of the LIFE 'AFM' project (LIFE02 ENV/UK/000146), which ran from 2002 to 2005. LIFE co-finance helped establish that AFM could remove at least 30% more unwanted solids and dissolved pollutants from drinking water compared to high quality silica sand and that it could improve the performance of most drinking water treatment systems and reduce the incidence of disease, whilst also delivering substantial operational costs and carbon savings.
Dryden Aqua says that using AFM in place of sand could eliminate water-based parasitic infections which account for nearly 25% of all disease in the developing world. In developed countries it could reduce infection by around 2%. By lowering energy, water and chemical consumption, AFM could also lower the cost of treating water by up to 25%, says Dryden Aqua.
The EBAE Awards Ceremony will take place on 1 December 2014 in Lyon, France. For more information, click here.
To learn more about the LIFE AFM project, see pp.49-50 of the LIFE Focus publication, LIFE creating green jobs and skills.
11 September 2014 The LIFE Environment project CSP (Celtic Seas Partnership - LIFE11 ENV/UK/000392) has produced a short animation to help explain how the EU is protecting its marine environment.
The three-minute video, which has been posted on the Commission’s DG Environment Facebook page, explains the goals of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Celtic Seas Partnership project. The LIFE project is bringing together sea users, industry, governments and the scientific community across the Celtic Seas - an OSPAR-defined region of the North-East Atlantic that includes the Celtic Sea, Bristol Channel, Irish Sea and parts of the Atlantic Ocean - in order to find ways of achieving healthy and sustainable seas.
In 2008, the EU introduced the MSFD to protect and manage our seas and oceans in a sustainable way. The LIFE project is “supporting the delivery” of the directive, says Dr Lyndsey Dodds, the project manager. “[It is] working to put the people that use the sea at the heart of management and offer them the opportunity to influence how their marine environment will be managed in the years to come,” she says.
According to Dr Dodds, a lack of understanding represents a barrier for people to engage with such marine management: “If the directive is going to succeed in achieving its goal of Good Environmental Status by 2020 we need to strengthen people’s understanding and create resources that are both clear and easy to digest.”
The video is one such way of raising the public’s understanding of this issue. Moreover, Dr Dodds argues that improved understanding of the MSFD will “allow the Celtic Seas Partnership stakeholders to develop proposals for management measures that we will present and recommend to governments. The aim is to improve the sustainability of activities and increase the involvement of stakeholders in government decision-making.”
A report into the contribution of LIFE projects to the understanding and further development of EU marine policies and legislation was recently produced. It found that whilst the LIFE programme funds around 200 projects every year, only 4.5% have a marine element. The authors of the report concluded: “Given that the majority of Member States have a coastline and will need to implement the MSFD, the number of LIFE projects is quite low and perhaps the Thematic Unit’s working groups could make some concrete recommendations for projects to fill some of the gaps that have been highlighted as a result of this report.”
05 September 2014 A final conference organised to mark the closure of the European LIFE+ ENV project CLIMATE (LIFE09 ENV/FR/000598) was held earlier this summer in the French department of Essonne. While tackling the serious matter of how to assist French and European regions to better adapt to climate change events (e.g. droughts, floods and hail storms) the event also brought a touch of humour to the proceedings through a series of climate change-themed cartoon drawings.
The overall objective of the 2010-14 project, “CLIMATE - Changing Living Modes: Acting in our Territory for the Environment” was to stimulate a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Essonne department – and subsequently in other regions – through a series of measures organised around five main areas of work. These included the development of eco-business activities, encouraging the use of sustainable house design technologies, stimulating the adoption of alternatives to single vehicle usage, combating energy shortages and reducing internal emissions of GHGs by the local council (Conseil general de l’Essonne), the project beneficiary.
Organised by the beneficiary, the day-long final conference was held on 26 June at the Institut d’optique of Palaiseau. Hosted by climate expert, Jean-Michel Lobry, it featured an opening speech by François-Marie Bréon, a climatologist and one of the authors of the 5th (and latest) IPPC Report on climate change. The seminar attracted participants – climate change scientists and professionals – from France and other EU cities (e.g. Brussels, Liège, Barcelona, Milan).
04 September 2014 The latest LIFE Focus publication highlights the work of the LIFE programme in tackling threats to Europe's air. Titled LIFE and air quality, the 72-page brochure focuses on LIFE's role in helping to effectively and cost-effectively implement the extensive body of EU policy instruments relating to air.
The publication includes an insightful introduction to the topic, including interviews with an air quality expert from the European Environment Agency and one of the participants in a pioneering pilot exercise designed to help European cities better implement EU air policy.
Thematic chapters look at LIFE's contribution to air quality across a number of key sectors: transport and urban mobility; monitoring and modelling; capacity building; encouraging behavioural change; agriculture; and industry, waste and energy This programme-level analysis is supported by specific project examples from across the EU, including in-depth case studies that can serve as an inspiration to policy-makers and project leaders, farmers and enterprises, organisations and citizens throughout Europe.
Download LIFE and Air quality (5 MB).
03 September 2014The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) invites non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of environment and/or climate action to present proposals for the LIFE operating grants. These grants cover certain administrative and operational costs for the financial year 2015.
The objective of the call is to promote better environmental and/or climate governance by broadening the involvement of stakeholders, including NGOs, in policy consultation and implementation. The expected result is to support the strengthening of civil society participation in the dialogue process of environmental and/or climate policy development and implementation.
Applicants must use the LIFE operating grants application package for the preparation of their proposals (in English only). The application package contains full and detailed explanations with regard to eligibility, procedures, co-funding rates and all other relevant details. It can be downloaded here.
The call will close on 15 October 2014. Please note that if the application is not sent by post but delivered by hand, it must arrive not later than 16:00 Brussels local time on 15 October at the Commission's central mail service.
The indicative total budget available for operating grants for this call is €9 000 000. The maximum EU-funding rate is 70% of the eligible costs of the operating budget of the beneficiary organisation for its 2015 budgetary year. The maximum amount that may be requested and awarded is fixed at €900 000 per grant.
02 September 2014The Spanish Government has created 39 new protected areas for birds in the marine environment based on the work of two Spanish LIFE projects: Marine IBAs (Important Bird Areas for Seabirds) (LIFE04 NAT/ES/000049); and INDEMARES (LIFE07 NAT/E/000732). The new designations have multiplied by 20 the protected area for seabirds in Spain, which now covers almost 50 000 km2.
The 39 sites have been designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the EU’s Birds Directive and brought into the Natura 2000 Network. Their formal approval has been the culmination of 10 years’ work under the two LIFE projects. The Marine IBAs project (2004-2009) created a standard methodology to identify marine IBAs and conducted a detailed inventory, leading to an initial proposal of new marine SPAs for Spain.
The INDEMARES project (2009-2014) refined the proposal through follow-up work including extending and consolidating the inventory, studying patterns of seabird use of the sites and assessing the interaction of seabirds with human activities. The project engaged with marine stakeholders and sought to prepare the future development of management plans for the new SPAs.
The designation of the marine SPAs is not designed to prevent all human activities in the protected areas, but to ensure maritime activities that are compatible with the long-term protection of these highly threatened birds. Asunción Ruiz, Executive Director of SEO/BirdLife, described the designation of the SPAs as “a great day for the conservation of our seas and their rich values”.
The methodology developed and used by the Spanish LIFE projects is now the reference for the designation of marine SPAs in Europe. It counted on a rigorous scientific approach using the support and participation of the national government, Autonomous Communities, BirdLife International and maritime stakeholders.
For more information on the INDEMARES project and the designation of the new marine SPAs in Spain, please visit www.indemares.es.
A presentation of the project will take place on the 22/10 in Madrid. Read the programme here (in Spansih)