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News: April 2016

Greek olive crop and climate change project gets national attention

Photo:LIFE 11 ENV/GR/942

26 April 2016Experts leading a LIFE project in Greece focusing on improved management of the country's renowned olive crop have caught the attention of officials at the Ministry of Agriculture looking to develop new environmentally-friendly practices in Greek farming.

A delegation from the oLIVE-CLIMA project (LIFE 11 ENV/GR/942), a five-year initiative that began in October 2012, recently met with Markos Mpolaris, Alternate Minister of Rural Development and Food in Greece. The meeting examined the project’s contribution to improving the quality and sustainable management of the olive crop and coincided with the ministry's interest in seeking fresh ideas for environmentally-friendly agriculture, as part of the Greek national programme for rural development running up to 2020.

The oLIVE-CLIMA project, part-funded by the EU's LIFE programme, is developing and applying new olive crop management practices focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The project seeks to enhance the long-term storage of carbon dioxide in the soil by increasing the rate of organic matter build-up and to improve soil fertility, reducing the need for artificial fertilisers.

Among the measures employed by farmers in three pilot areas are the recycling of wastewater and sludge from olive mills into the soil of the olive groves. The farmers are also taking wood prunings, chopping them and spreading them in the soil. Reducing tillage to the bare minimum and encouraging weed biodiversity help enrich the soil's nutrient content. The twin goals of improving the soil's capacity for carbon sequestration and reducing carbon emissions by limiting the use of energy and fertilisers are contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Experts coordinating the project presented its many advantages to the minister, not least its potential for incentivising farmers to move towards more sustainable methods. Further discussions between the project team and the ministry could see the methods pioneered by the project replicated in other parts of Greece and across the Mediterranean.

The project consortium's coordinating beneficiary is Anatoliki, the development agency of eastern Thessaloniki's local authorities. Other partners include scientific institutes, farmers' organisations, research foundations, private companies and a university in southern Italy.

LIFE Best Awards at Green Week

LIFE Best awards

19 April 2016The annual LIFE Best Awards will once again take place at EU Green Week in Brussels. The awards recognise the most outstanding LIFE projects completed in the previous calendar year. This edition sees a number of innovations. For the first time, the ‘Best of the Best’ LIFE projects – those adjudged to be just that little bit more outstanding than the rest – will be announced live at the awards.

There will be separate awards ceremonies for LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment. Both of these will take place at The Egg conference centre, 175 Rue Bara/Barastraat, Brussels on Tuesday, 31 May 2016.  

The LIFE Nature Best Awards will take place from 14:00-16:00. The LIFE Environment Best Awards will take place from 17:00-19:00. Each award ceremony will be followed by a networking cocktail.

LIFE Citizen’s Award for environment

For the second year running, the LIFE community and general public have a chance to vote for their favourite environmental project from the winners of the Best LIFE Projects 2015. A total of 25 projects have been shortlisted – 24 Best LIFE Environment projects and one LIFE Information & Communication project with an environmental theme. These have been meticulously selected by environmental experts according to rigorous criteria.

To cast your vote, click here. Voting closes at 23:00 Central European Summer Time on Monday, 30 May 2016. The winner of the LIFE Citizen’s Award for environment will be revealed at the LIFE Environment Best Awards. If you can’t be there in person, follow the LIFE Twitter feed to find out who has won!

Registration

LIFE projects can register for the LIFE Best Projects Awards, by going to: http://events.lifecommunity.eu/
Note: You will receive an email to activate your account. Please check your spam filter if it does not arrive in your inbox. All those attending from the same project/organisation need to register separately. It is also possible to de-register should you subsequently be unable to attend.

In addition, those attending the awards are also required to register for Green Week, by clicking here.

LIFE Nature Platform Meeting on wildlife poisoning

Photo: LIFE08 NAT/E/000062

18 April 2016Intentional poisoning poses a direct threat to conservation efforts across Europe, but a LIFE Nature Platform Meeting is being organised to assess LIFE’s contribution to reducing the risk of poisoning and to address ways in which human-wildlife conflict can be best resolved.

The meeting, which will be hosted by WWF Greece in Athens on 19-20 May, is expected to broaden the scope of expert networks and to determine future coordinated actions. It will focus on exchanging capacity building and best practice in the areas of awareness raising, prevention, case definition, evidence collection and legal enforcement among LIFE beneficiaries, competent authorities and stakeholders.

The meeting is being held in the context of the European Union policy framework on the illegal killing of wildlife.  Results and recommendations will be made available on the Natura 2000 Communication Platform. The working language of the meeting will be English.

The Platform Meeting is will include a field trip to Parnitha National Park located north-northwest of the Athens metropolitan area. Since the return of the wolf a couple of years ago, a few incidents of deliberate poisoning have been reported.

The meeting is being organised by the European Commission LIFE-Nature Unit with the support of the NEEMO EEIG External Monitoring Team, WWF Greece, and the Hellenic Ornithological Society.

For more information, click here.

Vote now for your favourite Natura 2000 project

Natura 2000 Awards

15 April 2016The 2016 edition of the Natura 2000 Awards is underway. Join those showing their appreciation for Natura 2000 and vote now for your favourite of the 24 finalists, several of which are LIFE projects.

On the 23 May 2016, Commissioner Vella will announce the winners of the 2016 Natura 2000 Awards at a special ceremony in Brussels. Alongside the winners in each of the award categories - which are chosen by a jury - the project receiving the most votes from the public will win the coveted European Citizens’ Award.

Voting for the citizens’ award, which closes at midnight on 8 May 2016 couldn’t be easier – it is done via a dedicated website.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

The awards ceremony will highlight exciting and inspirational projects that are making great strides in the joint effort to safeguard Europe’s precious protected areas. Winners will be selected across for five categories: communication; conservation; socio-economic benefits; reconciling interests/perceptions; and cross-border cooperation and networking. 

Register here to attend the ceremony. Attendance can be combined with participation in the forest ecosystems services policy conference, Beyond Wood, which takes place on the same day.

For more information check out the related Facebook pageand all the latest promotional material.

New communication tools for all LIFE projects

LIFE LOGO

14 April 2016The LIFE Communications Team has updated and relaunched the Communication Tools pages of the LIFE website.

These pages are designed to give LIFE project beneficiaries and partners practical advice and guidance about the communications aspects of their projects.

The Communication Tools section now includes a guide to the communication requirements for LIFE projects; a set of resources, including downloadable logos and presentations, recommended reading and advice on all types of obligatory and recommended communication actions; and examples of good communication from recent LIFE projects.

The toolkit includes practical information to help projects produce effective websites, layman’s reports, after-LIFE Plans and on-site noticeboards, and to achieve the desired impact from community and expert events, media relations, social media and engagement with policymakers at regional, national and EU level.

The Communication Tools can be found by clicking here, or under the ‘TOOLKIT’ tab on the LIFE website top menu.

Call for Natura 2000 ecosystem restoration evidence

NAT2000 LOGO

07 April 2016The European Commission has initiated a survey to gather evidence on how the Natura 2000 network contributes to ecosystem restoration. Those involved in ecosystem restoration actions or with information about restoration work within Natura 2000 sites are requested to participate in the survey, including experts working within the framework of LIFE projects. Responses should be completed by 15 April 2016.

This questionnaire is a part of a wider data-gathering effort for the study ‘Technical support in relation to the promotion of restoration in the context of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’, which is reporting to the Commission. The aim is to develop a better understanding of what is happening in relation to ecosystem restoration activities across the EU, in different Member States, for different sectors, and for different types of habitat.

Target 2 of the EU biodiversity strategy is the restoration of 15% of degraded ecosystems, to help stop biodiversity loss by 2020. The results of the survey will help the Commission to provide support to Member States so that they can achieve their restoration targets.

The study for DG Environment is being conducted by eftec, a consultancy firm. A background document, with further information about the study, is available to download from the survey webpage or via the study team (email: ian@eftec.co.uk).

Vote for your favourite LIFE Environment project!

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125

06 April 2016 Since 2005, the Best LIFE Environment projects have been recognised at an annual award ceremony. For the second year running, you have the chance to choose your favourite project. The one with the most votes will be presented with the LIFE Citizens' Award for environment at EU Green Week in Brussels on 31 May 2016.

You are being asked to vote for your favourite environmental project from the winners of the Best LIFE Projects 2015. A total of 25 projects have been shortlisted – 24 Best LIFE Environment projects, plus one LIFE Information & Communication project with an environmental theme. These have been meticulously selected by environmental experts according to rigorous criteria.

The objective of the LIFE Environment Best Project Awards is to help identify and raise awareness of those projects whose results, if widely applied, could have the most positive impact on the environment and green growth. Projects not only need to be technically sound, public support is also a vital component of the LIFE story. And it often makes a big difference to the success of a project. That's why we want to hear from you. The countdown to the LIFE Citizens' Award for environment has begun…

The winner of this public vote will be revealed at the LIFE Environment Best Project Awards, which take place on Tuesday 31 May 2016 at EU Green Week in Brussels. If you can’t be there in person, follow our Twitter feed to find out who has won!

Voting will end on Monday 30/05/2016 at 23:00 Brussels time.

European Commission visits LIFE project on urban congestion

Photo:LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125

04 April 2016The LIFE project Urbannecy (LIFE12 ENV/FR/001125) in Annecy, France is delivering technical know-how on how to reduce urban transport pollution in cities.

While the last decade has seen European cities take major steps to tackle traffic congestion and related pollution, little attention has been paid to the goods distribution process, which is one of the major sources of traffic congestion and air and noise pollution in urban areas.

The results of the Urbannecy project are expected to be highly policy relevant. The Head of the LIFE Environment Unit at DG Environment, Hervé Martin, is to visit the French project on 6 April 2016 to see first-hand how gas emissions are being reduced in the city.

The goal of the LIFE+ Urbannecy project is to improve the urban environment via a logistics platform using ecological vehicles. Annecy has 52 000 inhabitants.  Its old town has very narrow streets, parts of them exclusively pedestrian. In addition, Annecy is a popular tourist destination throughout the year. There are a lot of small shops, restaurants and other businesses. Due to the need for daily goods deliveries, transport has become a serious headache for the city. It was therefore decided to develop an Urban Distribution Centre (Centre de Distribution Urbain) to ensure that goods destined for Annecy's city centre could be delivered in a more sustainable way in a bid to reduce congestion as well as greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions.

The idea is that the transport companies or individuals delivering goods can leave their products at the UDC who will organise the "last mile delivery", thus decreasing the number of delivery vehicles and lorries entering the city centre. The UDC has been operational since February 2015 and has gradually increased its number of clients while also developing ancillary activities such as the collection of waste.

The Commission will get an overview of the project's implementation and results. An exchange of views with different stakeholders, including journalists will take place in the afternoon.

For further information on LIFE Urbannecy visit the project's website.

 

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