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News: July 2015

MoorLIFE releases apps to increase moorland awareness

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202

30 July 2015The UK’s Moors for the Future Partnership has created four new smartphone and tablet apps through its MoorLIFE project (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202). The free apps provide photographic guides to help identify the wildlife, vegetation and landscape features found on moorland.

“We produced the apps so that people can learn more about the wonderful landscapes that we have worked on to restore to their former glory,” said MoorLIFE project manager, Laura King. “Thanks to the EU funding we’ve completed conservation works to protect 2 500 hectares of moorland, that will increase the numbers of plants, and Sphagnum mosses that you’ll be able to spot out on the moors. And we hope that you’ll have more chances to see more wildlife as our works improve these vital habitats.”

The apps, which were developed in conjunction with the firm Natural Aptitude, have been designed with the Peak District and South Pennines in mind but can be used on all moorland in the UK.

The four apps are:

  • MoorMOSS – a guide to sphagnum and other mosses;
  • MoorPLANTS – a guide to moorland plants, including ferns, flowering herbs, shrubs, trees and grasses;
  • MoorSIGHTS – a guide to moorland landscape features; and
  • MoorWILD – a guide to the birds, insects, mammals and reptiles found on the moors.

The apps may be downloaded from: http://www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/moorapps
They are also available as a printable pdf for non-tablet/smartphone users. For more information about MoorLIFE, see our earlier coverage of the project’s closing conference.

Conservation success for Iberian lynx

Photo: LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570

27 July 2015Successful conservation action – aided by LIFE Nature projects in Spain and latterly in Portugal - has boosted the populations of one of the world’s most threatened large carnivores, the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). According to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of threatened species, following six decades of decline, the population of the Iberian lynx increased from just 52 mature individuals in 2002 to 156 in 2012 [unofficial figures estimate total numbers at 357 individuals for 2014]. The decline of the species had been caused by destruction of its habitat, human-induced deaths and above all, by the effects of viral diseases of the wild rabbit (RHD and myxomatosis), its main prey. Now, however, it has moved from the ‘Critically Endangered’ to ‘Endangered’ category on the IUCN Red List.
This success has been achieved thanks to an intensive conservation programme that was started by the regional government of Andalusia and co-financed by the LIFE Nature projects ‘Lince Andalucía’ (LIFE02 NAT/E/008609) and Reintroducción Lince Andalucia (LIFE06 NAT/E/000209) – both also ‘Best LIFE-Nature’ project winners.

The species can be found today in two regions of south-western Spain as well as south-eastern Portugal, which hosts a small reintroduced population. Conservation works carried out included the restoration of rabbit populations – its main prey species – monitoring for illegal trapping, conservation breeding, reintroduction programmes and compensation schemes for landowners, which made their properties compatible with the habitat requirements of the Iberian lynx. The experience acquired during these two projects is being built on by LIFE+ Iberlince (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000570) which is targeting the recovery of the historic distribution range of the species in the Iberian Peninsula.

Director of the LIFE+ Iberlince project, Miguel Simón, says that whilst the improvement in the Iberian lynx’s conservation status is good news, “there is still a lot of work to be done: a new strain of the RHD virus is affecting young rabbits, for which there is no solution at the moment, and it is causing high mortality rates and a decrease in the populations of wild rabbit.” He stresses the need for more public support for and citizen participation in lynx conservation work as well the consolidation of areas where reintroductions have taken place until stable populations of Iberian lynx are achieved.

2015 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants: FAQ now published

LIFE LOGO

27 July 2015The most useful Frequently Asked Questions have been published today as a downloadable PDF document.

All applicants wishing to submit a LIFE 2015 proposal are kindly reminded to consult the 2015 FAQs section on a regular basis throughout the preparation period, or to subscribe to our RSS, where new versions will be announced as they become available.

The 2015 FAQ is available here.

LIFE road project in Italy yields unexpected benefits

Photo: WWF Italia

23 July 2015 A LIFE Nature project in southern Italy has demonstrated some unforeseen benefits, both social and economic, several years after completion.
The project, 'Cesine - Conservation of Wetlands in Cesine and decrease of human impact in the area' (LIFE95 NAT/IT/000807), ran from 1996 to 2000. One of its main objectives was to close a busy highway that crossed the wetlands - a Natura 2000 site near Lecce in Puglia - and re-naturalise it to give the habitat continuity.

A new road was built and traffic re-routed around the nature reserve, but the asphalt from the old highway bisecting the site was not removed as planned: permission was not received from the relevant national authority as required under Italian law. Some unexpected benefits have arisen from leaving the road in place, though.

Angelo Salsi, Head of the EASME LIFE and CIP Eco-innovation Unit at the Directorate-General for the Environment, recently visited the project on an ex-post mission. He says it has had major positive impacts on biodiversity in the area. The 5 km road, which is gradually being reclaimed by nature, is now used by walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters and horse riders. People that hardly knew the protected area before are now visiting the site. In fact, the old highway is now commonly referred to as the 'LIFE road'.

The project has also brought some economic benefits. For instance, a hotel just outside the nature reserve uses the site as another selling point for its guests, according to the manager, with many visiting its beaches or taking advantage of the conditions to look at the stars. The hotel has invested in an electric bus which enables guests and others to reach the area with a minimal impact on the environment.

Another example is a small businessman who provides services on the beach, such as renting out umbrellas. He is seeing more customers now the road is closed to traffic and is even protecting the site in his own way - by investing in a bridge to stop people from walking over the dunes.

The Natura 2000 site manager and partners have continued to collaborate since the project ended. Some 25 full-time equivalent jobs have been created, to provide guided tours and ensure the site remains protected and conserved. Consequently, whilst the LIFE project was originally designed to deliver nature conservation, it has also provided growth and jobs.

Spanish R&D forum profiles LIFE environmental initiatives

CARTIF LOGO

17 July 2015Environmental R&D experts and LIFE projects gathered on 18 June 2015 during the 2015 Environmental Science and Technology EFEforum. Organised by the research centre CARTIF - beneficiary of several LIFE projects - and EFEverde, the environmental division of the Spanish press agency EFE, the workshop featured nine success stories on environmental technologies and methods developed by LIFE projects.

The event reflected on the environmental research programmes and strategies that will shape the future of sustainable development in the EU. It also highlighted the different benefits of LIFE to society as well as the advantages of participating in the programme.

The participating LIFE projects deal mostly with air quality and resource efficiency issues.

The featured projects were:

  • EQUINOX (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000749): The project is developing new ‘anti-polluting roads’ in cities using a photocatalysis technology based in titanium dioxide and solar radiation that eliminates NOx.
  • DIOXDETECTOR (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000729): The project applies a new analytical technique for the quantification of dioxin, and the continuous tracking of PCDDs/PCDFs concentrations in air, soil and biota (vegetal) in the area surroundings a municipal solid waste incineration facility.
  • VALPORC (LIFE13 ENV/ES/001115): The project is demonstrating a process for the sustainable management of animal by-products from the pork industry, especially pig carcasses and manure. It seeks to exploit these waste products by transforming them into biofuels - biogas and biodiesel - and organic fertilisers, with resultant environmental and socio-economic benefits.
  • EUCALYPTUS ENERGY (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000913): The project is about deriving value from eucalyptus biomass to improve the sustainability of eucalyptus forests/plantations. This should improve the quality of the forest, reducing waste and environmental threats at the same time as improving the economic activity of rural areas.
  • Bioseville (LIFE13 ENV/ES/001113): The project initiative is developing an integrated and sustainable system for the recovery and processing of used cooking oils to produce a new, more competitive and efficient biofuel. It aims to demonstrate the feasibility of using this biofuel in the local bus fleet in Seville to significantly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • MIX_FERTILIZER (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000689): The project aims to improve the value of pig manure by developing an innovative and environmentally-friendly fertiliser able to release gradually the nutrients into the soil.
  • HUELLAS (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000686). The project´s objective is reduce the carbon and water footprint of rail infrastructure by developing tools and methodologies to optimise decision-making during the construction process. It plans to provide railway construction companies with a tool that combines environmental, economic and social analysis to enable them to become more sustainable.
  • COLRECEPS (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000754): The project is developing a demonstration plant to recycle expanded polystyrene (EPS) waste and produce pearls of EPS. These pearls will be used to manufacture new prototype products. Through this process, the life cycle of expanded polystyrene will be extended, giving an added value to this waste and reducing the amount of EPS sent to landfill or incinerated.
  • REVA-WASTE (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000727): The project is to demonstrate the sustainable management of a broad spectrum of waste (industrial waste, waste treatment plant waste and agrifood waste). This will be achieved through the development and practical application of a ‘mixed plant’ concept, which will support a new waste management strategy, based on separation, pre-treatment and recycling leading to greater market value of waste.

2015 Call for proposals for LIFE Action Grants: guideline corrigendum for the sub-programme for Climate Action

LIFE LOGO

16 July 2015A corrigenda of the two guidelines of the 2015 Call for proposal under the sub-programme for Climate Action has been published today in the LIFE Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation, Governance & Information application package:

  • A corrigendum of the "LIFE Climate Action Guidelines for Applicants 2015" clarifying in page 45 the monitoring of the impact of the C-implementation actions through the D-monitoring actions.
  • A corrigendum of the "LIFE Climate Action Guidelines for evaluation of project proposals 2015" modifying in page 6 the reference to other sections of the Guidelines for Applicants and clarifying in page 7, the calculation of the minimum pass score.

All applicants to LIFE Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation, Governance & Information are requested to download the latest application package on the Call 2015 page.

Alternate direct link to the application package is here.

LIFE VENENO NO project helps obtain illegal poisoning conviction

Photo: Agentes Rurales Quebrantahuesos

14 July 2015 A court in Santander (northern Spain) has found a farmer guilty of laying out poisoned baits that killed at least eleven red kites (Milvus milvus), an endangered species,  as well as five dogs, six foxes, a cat, a raven, a buzzard and four vultures.

The farmer was sentenced, on 8 June 2015, to two years in prison and post-release: two years disqualification from farming or animal husbandry; four years disqualification from hunting, a fine of €90 270, and an additional fine of €28 500 to be used to monitor red kites over the next three years. This is the most severe sentence to be passed for this type of crime in Spain.

This case was bought within the framework of the Life+ VENENO NO project (LIFE08 NAT/E/000062 ). This LIFE project raised awareness among enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges, and the general public of the risks to wildlife and domestic animals from the uncontrolled use of poisoned baits. The project bought 24 cases to court and has obtained 11 convictions, with 8 cases ongoing. Prior to the project, few cases of this type reached court. The convictions that the project has helped achieve act as a powerful deterrent against this environmental crime. For further information, visit the project’s website.

The incident involving the farmer came to light in a village near Valdeolea in December 2011. Environmental agents of the Cantabria local government, working in collaboration with the canine unit of the Guardia Civil and the national service for the protection of nature (SEPRONA), found the poisoned animals and birds, and subsequently conducted a meticulous process of investigation to gather evidence for a court case using protocols developed during the LIFE project. Toxicological tests confirmed that a highly toxic insecticide had been used. The farmer laid out the poisoned baits thinking they would protect foals and calves from possible attack by wolves.

In cases such as this, SEO/Birdlife - the LIFE project beneficiary - sought convictions that reflect the conservation importance of the species killed, based on the concept of civil responsibility under Spanish law. “In Spain, every wildlife animal has a value, and the owners are the regional governments. So, if you have killed eleven red kites you have to pay the value of the birds,” explains project manager David de la Bodega. “The wildlife value is different in each region, with the highest value being for Iberian imperial eagles in Castilla-La Mancha, where each bird is valued at €60 000. However, we have asked for civil responsibility to apply not just for the official value of the species, but also to take into account other factors such as the species’ population and public investment in that species.”

The Cantabrian conviction follows another case in Castilla-La Mancha in April 2015, arising from the death of six Iberian imperial eagles (Aquila adalberti) by poisoning on a nature reserve in Ciudad Real in January 2012. This case represented a serious setback for the species as Castilla-La Mancha is home to almost half of its global breeding population; information which the LIFE project bought to court via lawyers. In this case, the court imposed bail of €800 000, as requested by SEO/Birdlife. In making this ground-breaking decision, the judge took into account the wildlife value of each bird, the scarcity of the species, the danger to the overall population and the investment efforts of organisations involved in its conservation.

 

Spanish project presents findings on sustainable forestry and climate change

LIFE07 ENV/E/000824

08 July 2015LIFE BOSCOS (LIFE07 ENV/E/000824) held its final event on Friday 26 June 2015 in the plenary hall of the Consell Insular of Menorca (CIMe), the project beneficiary. At the conference, organised by CIMe’s Economy, Environment and Hunting Department, the project team presented their findings on sustainable forest management in Menorca in the context of climate change.

The LIFE BOSCOS project developed planning and management guidelines aimed at reducing the negative impacts of climate change on forests in Menorca. After a first phase of studies and meetings with stakeholders (e.g. forest managers, farmers, entrepreneurs and landowners), guidelines were drawn up and demonstrated on nine collaborating estate farms. The management tools developed by LIFE BOSCOS serve as a reference for other European countries developing climate change adaptation strategies for forest ecosystems. For further information, see the project’s website: http://lifeboscos.cime.es/

Forest engineer José Domingo gave the first presentation at the event, on the project’s ‘Guide to Good Practices in Forestry Management for Climate Change Adaptation in Menorca’. The manual provides forest owners and managers with guidance on how to develop adaptive forest management plans to climate change which take into consideration the peculiarities of Menorca’s agroforestry landscape. Some 94.02% of the island’s territory consists of a mosaic of forest and cultivated areas, of which about half (46.79%) is forest land.

The biologist Miquel Truyol then talked about other project results published in Volume 14 of the Menorca Biosphere Reserve Newsletters, the Layman’s Report, and the long-term benefits for the island’s Biosphere Reserve.

Finally, project manager Agnès Canals described the project’s training and awareness-raising activities, including the publication of the book ‘Menorca’s Forests’. She believes that sustainable and planned use can support the conservation of forests: "In this sense, the Menorca Biosphere Reserve has a chance to be a learning field while generating a green economy."

 

LIFE and climate change report now available

LIFE and climate change report

06 July 2015A study of the climate change mitigation and adaptation practices demonstrated by the LIFE programme is now available online. The study is targeted at experts in the European Commission as well as the general public. A high number of LIFE projects (366) have direct or indirect implications for climate change. The study identified and classified these projects in order to make it easier to search for them.

The study, moreover, groups the projects together under sub-topics and is accompanied by a spreadsheet database. The graphs and lists produced underline the wide scope of solutions and innovative approaches that have been carried out by the LIFE programme. LIFE projects have dealt with all bar one of the more than 50 identified climate change sub-topics.

From 2000 to 2012, the EU contributed about €350 million to projects relevant for climate change. Nevertheless, the study highlighted regional and thematic imbalances in the programme. It also found that LIFE projects have not yet addressed the topic of migration, social tension and jobs in relation to climate change. The report was produced by Astrale GEIE on behalf of the LIFE Environment and Eco-Innovation Unit (now LIFE Environment Unit).

 

Polish poster competition promotes the reduction of natural resource use amongst secondary school pupils

LIFE 3xEnvironment

03 July 2015On June 16, 2015, an awards ceremony took place in Warsaw, Poland, for the winners of the poster competition "Secondary crafts schools pupils for the environment". The competition was organised within the framework of the project LIFE/3xEnvironment/PL (LIFE12 INF/PL/000009).

The competition aimed to promote knowledge on good practices regarding reducing the use of natural resources in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) amongst secondary school pupils. Successful pupils were awarded prizes for posters they had created on this subject. The awards were presented by Mr Christian Strasser, deputy head of the LIFE unit, and two other EC representatives. A total of 112 posters were submitted from all over Poland. Attendees of the award ceremony also enjoyed presentations about the project, LIFE and other initiatives looking at environmental education regarding a reduction in the consumption of resources consumption.

The 3xEnvironment project was created to encourage managers and employees of 3 000 Polish companies to protect the environment through a more efficient use of natural resources. 99% of companies in Poland are SMEs and they have a significant impact on the environment. Only a small percent of these companies are, however, aware of the environmental impact their activities have. The project hopes to use the following activities to raise awareness: training managers in 500 companies, supplying good examples of environmentally friendly practices and the dissemination of project results to 10 000 initiatives.

More information about the project and the competition can be found on the 3xEnvironment website.

 

 

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