16 December 2015The LIFE Malta Seabird Project (LIFE10 NAT/MT/000090) recently held an international workshop on seabirds to present the inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) within Maltese waters that was created by the ongoing project. Hosted by project beneficiary, BirdLife Malta, it was held on the island of Gozo.
The workshop attracted around 50 international participants – marine scientists, conservationists, government officials and European Commission representatives – from 17 countries. It was an opportunity to gather experience of protecting seabirds in the Mediterranean and to set a way forward for seabird protection across national borders.
The LIFE Malta Seabird Project has been carrying out research for the past four years to identify the most important marine sites for Malta’s protected, breeding seabirds, namely the Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), the Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) and the European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus).
The project has contributed to the development of the Global Seabird Tracking Database, which is helping determine the most important areas for seabirds across the world. The database contains more than 5 million data points from 120 research institutes.
Portugal recently applied legal protection for two new marine Natura 2000 network sites. SPEA, the Portuguese partner of the Malta Seabird Project, had originally proposed these as marine IBAs after 10 years of LIFE support of seabird activity. Similarly, it is hoped that the Maltese government will also apply legal protection to its IBAs ahead of their becoming part of the Natura 2000 network.
Currently, around 4% of the Mediterranean is protected as part of the Natura 2000 network, but important marine sites for seabirds still need to be included. In the Mediterranean seabirds face threats both on land and at sea, due to, for example, overfishing, invasive predators, habitat destruction and marine pollution.
The LIFE Malta Seabird Project is being led by BirdLife Malta in collaboration with the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Environment, the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal). The project is building on the knowledge obtained by the LIFE project GARNIJA-MALTIJA (LIFE06 NAT/MT/000097) that was completed in 2010. For more about the project’s latest news, visit project website.
15 December 2015This new publication from the LIFE programme, the EU's fund for the environment and climate action, highlights the achievements and value for money of the most outstanding Nature, Biodiversity and Information and Communication projects with a nature focus that were completed before the end of last year.
Five projects received the ultimate accolade ('Best of the Best' project), including a LIFE Information and Communication (INF) project in Greece. For the first time, the public was allowed to vote for its favourite one of these projects. The inaugural winner of the public vote - the LIFE Community Award for Nature - was announced at the 7th edition of the annual awards ceremony for the winning projects, held in Brussels during EU Green Week earlier this year.
In addition, a further 12 projects (including three from the LIFE INF strand) were recognised as 'Best' LIFE projects for their excellent work.
All 17 exemplary projects - drawn from 13 Member States - are featured in this new publication. Together they demonstrate the significant contribution that the LIFE programme can make to nature conservation practice and policy.
11 December 2015The LIFE project Elia (LIFE10 NAT/BE/000709) has won first prize in the environmental protection category in the Renewables Grid Initiative’s ‘Good Practice of the Year’ 2015 awards. The winners were presented with their trophies at the second annual award ceremony in Brussels on 19 November 2015.
The Elia project was launched to create green corridors for biodiversity under overhead high-tension electrical lines in wooded areas (155 km of corridors in Belgium and on seven sites in France). The RGI award was made in recognition of the importance of the private sector in nature protection, and a successful business and biodiversity initiative.
The LIFE team is networking with operators of transport systems from 17 Member States in order to spread its methods across Europe. The project pioneered an alternative to regular forest clearings, carrying out seven innovative onsite actions to enhance biodiversity while ensuring electrical safety. Local partners were engaged in the management of vegetation in order to develop measures that produce multiple socio-economic benefits.
Jury members Marie Donnelly, Director of Directorate C at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, and Baard Eilertsen, founder of Truebase, an energy advisory company, congratulated the winners at the Brussels ceremony.
Other RGI winners included the Energy Supply Organisation of the Cooperative Society in Hjortshoej, Denmark, for its achievements in technology and design and EirGrid, the Irish grid operator, in the communication and participation category.
The Renewable Grid Initiative is a joint initiative of NGOs and transmission system operators from across Europe. RGI promotes transparent, environmentally sensitive grid development to enable the further steady growth of renewable energy and the energy transition.
The ‘Good Practice of the Year’ awards were set up to ensure that innovative practices in grid development are rewarded and communicated.
10 December 2015 Selected non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have now been invited to submit their applications for the award of an operating grant covering the financial year 2016. Applications should be returned by the end of this year (31 December) and can be downloaded here.
The application process follows on from the European Commission’s call for LIFE framework partnership agreements for NGOs. Applications for the 2016 work programmes will be assessed in January/February ahead of the signing of specific operating grant agreements in March 2016.
The number of NGOs that have successfully applied for funding has varied from year to year. The awarding of grants is based on the quality of the applications, the amounts applied for and the total budget available, but typically around 30 NGOs are supported by LIFE funding in this way each year.
09 December 2015The Latvian project LIFE Ecosystem Services (LIFE13 ENV/LV/000839) has just published a new video that explores the relationship between man and nature. The film provides a straightforward explanation of what ecosystem services are, as well as their benefits for humankind.
The video, entitled, ‘assessment of ecosystems and their services for nature biodiversity conservation and management’, is one of three planned around the theme of ecosystem services. These films are part of the project’s extensive communications campaign.
EU biodiversity strategy requires Member States to identify, map and assess ecosystems and their services. In Latvia, however, such practices have not yet been introduced and LIFE Ecosystem Services aims to close this gap by developing an innovative methodology which balances environmental, social and economic values. This will be achieved through a number of activities including adopting international practices for the economic valuation of ecosystems and their services in different scenarios in Latvia, creating a clear, comprehensive assessment system.
To learn more about the activities of LIFE Ecosystem Services visit the project website.
01 December 2015The latest LIFE Focus brochure highlights the contribution the LIFE programme has made to the implementation of EU policy on climate change adaptation. Together with last year's brochure on LIFE and Climate change mitigation, it gives an overview of LIFE's work to date in the field of climate action. Both brochures are essential reading ahead of COP21 in Paris.
LIFE and Climate change adaptation features a foreword by Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. In it he spells out the importance of taking an integrated approach to climate adaptation, enabling it to be mainstreamed into all relevant sectors.
This integrated approach is reflected in the content of the latest LIFE Focus brochure, with an introduction to policy issues and LIFE's impact followed by thematic sections covering all the key sectors: strategic planning for adaptation at national and local level; urban resilience; agriculture; forests; water (including water management and flood protection); coastal areas; and biodiversity.
Featuring more than 130 LIFE projects from 24 Member States, the new brochure provides a wealth of examples of ways in which climate change adaptation can be mainstreamed. These practical solutions can help meet the EU's climate obligations, providing added social and economic value in the process.
Download: LIFE and Climate change adaptation (~ 8.2 MB)