23 October 2015 The LIFE La Mancha project (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000563) is raising awareness of the importance of the La Mancha wetlands in Central Spain via an innovative video made using geo-journalism tools. By overlapping project information and online images, the video illustrates the exact locations and range of project actions.
“Google Earth has a huge potential to show information, from a global and local point of view, to help us understand our closest environment,” points out the project’s video-maker Eduardo García Milagros.
An essential part of the project is to raise awareness of the importance of the La Mancha wetlands, which are less well-known than other wetlands in the region. The five-minute video, which is available to enjoy online in English and Spanish, forms an important part of this activity. It provides a roving bird’s eye view of the wetlands, linked to the project actions shown using overlaid graphics, narration and an inset film of the characteristic landscape and species of the wetlands.
The La Mancha wetland complex extends over 14 000 ha and includes 27 Natura 2000 network sites. The LIFE project is focussing on the recovery of Mediterranean salt steppes, a priority habitat for conservation under the Habitats Directive. The project has purchased agricultural land surrounding the wetlands to halt further desiccation and is restoring the wetland’s hydrological dynamics, which provide valuable resources and ecosystem services. The project actions benefit numerous species listed in the Birds and Habitats Directives.
16 October 2015 The LIFE external monitoring team (NEEMO) has just published a thematic report entitled LIFE and Land Stewardship: Current status, challenges and opportunities. In this report to the European Commission, the authors assess the contribution made by the LIFE programme in engaging private stakeholders in nature conservation. The comprehensive report also explores how LIFE projects could further contribute to land stewardship agreements throughout the EU.
Land stewardship is defined as a strategy to involve landowners and land users (such as farmers, foresters, hunters, fishers and recreationalists) in the conservation of nature and landscape, with the support of a range of civil society groups. The implementation of voluntary agreements between these groups offers an important means of extending conservation practices beyond the boundaries of the Natura 2000 network and other conventionally protected areas.
The report was based on a study conducted in three phases. The first phase involved the screening of all LIFE projects finalised after 2005, to identify those with good land stewardship demonstration value. This resulted in 62 LIFE projects from 28 countries (mostly LIFE Nature, but also LIFE Information and LIFE Environment) being selected for in-depth analysis during the second and largest phase of the study. In parallel with LIFE project studies, country studies were undertaken for the presence of land stewardship mechanisms. In the final phase, 31 project and 22 country case studies were used in the report to illustrate good land stewardship practice.
Spain was shown to be particularly active in the application of land stewardship agreements, whilst the UK had the most experience with land trusts (e.g. The National Trust) that manage many sites of importance. The report also notes that France has recently taken an important step to promote land stewardship, with the drafting of a biodiversity law that defines a new type of easement (a voluntary agreement between a property owner and a conservation organisation in private law, involving the transfer of a portion of the rights associated with a piece of property but not the ownership).
The report arrives at a time when the issue of land stewardship is being actively debated in the EU. For example, an EU study on Alternative Ways to Support Private Land Conservation was published in June 2015, while the First Annual Congress of the International Land Conservation Network takes place on 19-21 October 2015 in Berlin.
Land stewardship has great potential to be more widely used as a practical tool to implement policies and legal instruments for biodiversity conservation, according to the LIFE and Land Stewardship report’s authors. Their aim is to help inspire the uptake of land stewardship practices on a much wider scale, and to promote the adoption of available land stewardship mechanisms that to date have only sporadically been used.
16 October 2015 The 2015 edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) takes place from the 21-29 November 2015. The EWWR consists of multiple activities taking place around Europe that promote awareness about sustainable resource and waste management. This year’s edition will have a particular focus on dematerialisation – doing more with less.
Dematerialisation includes the idea of replacing products with services, as well as of improving the use of materials (through product reuse, substituting materials or by using fewer materials for a specific function). Solutions such as the sharing economy, services replacing products and improved materials are important for resource efficiency.
Participating is simple: just visit the EWWR website to find a large database full of examples and ideas of what action to organise, as well as all information on how to participate. Furthermore, there are a lot of support tools available to help in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of their dematerialisation action! You can also get more information by contacting the EWWR team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As ever, the EWWR – which is run by the LIFE project EWWR+ (LIFE12 INF/BE/000459) – is an occasion to engage around the ‘3Rs’ of waste reduction: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. To date more than 24 800 actions have taken place as a result of EWWR since its launch in 20009. The organisers hope to implement more actions in 2015 than in any previous edition.
15 October 2015 You may now submit your applications for the third edition of the Natura 2000 awards.
The pan-European awards celebrate excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and conservation. The European Commission launched the annual awards to showcase the added value of the network and to increasing public awareness about Europe's valuable natural heritage.
The awards comprise five different categories: Communication; Socio-Economic Benefits; Conservation; Reconciling Interests / Perceptions; and Cross-border Cooperation and Networking. An additional European Citizens' Award was introduced for the first time in 2015.
The competition is open to any organisation or person involved in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, including public and local authorities, businesses, NGOs, landowners, educational institutions and individuals.
To be in with a chance of winning this time, you need to share your Natura 2000 success story before 1 December 2015. The winners will be announced at a high-level ceremony in Brussels in May 2016.
12 October 2015 The Moors for the Future Partnership, which works to protect priority international habitats in the Peak District and South Pennines, has received €16 million to deliver the MoorLIFE 2020 project. This includes €12 million from LIFE, the largest award the programme has ever given to a UK-based conservation project. Additional funding is provided by the utility companies, Severn Trent Water United Utilities and Yorkshire Water.
The new project builds on 12 years of partnership work protecting large areas of the moors, including actions carried out as part of an earlier LIFE project (MoorLIFE – LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202). The €16 million of funding will enable the partnership to expand its work hugely, protecting the integrity of 9 500 hectares of active blanket bog through re-vegetating bare peat, improving hydrology and diversifying existing vegetation.
Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “History shows us that it is money well spent. Every LIFE project is focusing on key habitats or key species.” He said: “I am proud that the EU has chosen this way to help our Member States and at the same time to help nature. I have no doubt that the success of MoorLIFE 2020 will pay us back many times over.”
The internationally important blanket bogs of the South Pennines Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Natura 2000 network site, are at significant risk, with large areas devastated by 150 years of atmospheric pollution and wildfires. Expanses of bare peat threaten the remaining active blanket bog, which plays a key role in the UK’s action on climate change, together with providing resilience to natural disasters such as floods and fire and providing drinking water to the towns and cities around the Peak District.
The Moors for the Future Partnership is hosted by the Peak District National Park Authority, which will coordinate actions carried out by MoorLIFE 2020 project partners the National Trust, RSPB and Pennine Prospects (the South Pennines Rural Regeneration Company). Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park, called the award of the new project: “a massive vote of confidence in our work in the Peak District and South Pennines. The project will deliver landscape-scale works as well as leading the way in researching and developing innovative techniques to protect and understand these fantastic places.”
For more details on the work of the Moors for the Future Partnership, go to www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk
Click here to see Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries talking about the EU LIFE programme.