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News: January 2016

LIFE CREAMAgua wins prize for the defence of nature

Photo: LIFE09 ENV/000431

28 January 2016 On Saturday, 23 January 2016 the LIFE Environment project CREAMAgua (LIFE09 ENV/000431) received the XXXV Jaulín prize – in the ‘regional’ category – for the defence of nature. For 35 years the Jaulín awards have been recognising the work of individuals and organisations that help towards the conservation of nature.

The Jaulín award is the third such prize received by LIFE CREAMAgua in recognition of the project’s great results to date. In November 2013 it was awarded a runners-up award in the Conama prize for sustainability and two years ago it received the 16th Prize for the Environment Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon.

CREAMAgua created and restored 16 wetland areas and 70 ha of riparian habitat along the river Flumen in Los Monegros, Spain. The areas act as natural filters to reduce the run-off of inorganic nutrients - nitrates and phosphates - and salts from agricultural land into the river. It was led by the local authority, but actively involved local farmers in the management of the wetland areas.

For more information about CREAMAgua, visit the project website:

LIFE environmental impact assessment tool is widely adopted

Photo: LIFE11 ENV/FI/000905

27 January 2016 The recently completed LIFE project IMPERIA (LIFE11 ENV/FI/000905), which developed an ARVI tool for carrying out environmental impact assessment (EIA), is already creating an impression. The project engaged experts, researchers and authorities in Finland, who are interested in applying the ARVI method.

The project's Excel-based ARVI method is moreover already being used by the largest consulting offices and has been applied to eight extensive EIA initiatives. These include the impact assessments of the increased use of biofuels by Helsingin Energia in 2014 and of the natural gas pipe between Finland and Estonia (Balticconnector) in 2015.

Managed by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), the LIFE project extended the good practices and methods from multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), which had been developed and applied extensively by the project partners, to the fields of EIA and strategic environmental assessment (SEA). Such assessments boost resource savings, aid planning and help with the implementation of environmental measures.
The ARVI method enables experts to collect and compare different datasets and to produce charts and tables to illustrate the results. The project beneficiary invited representatives of local interest groups to join a cooperation group that met several times during the project in order to understand local views. It emphasises that taking into account local considerations in the early planning stages bolsters lower impact development. 

Further related insights are included in the LIFE project's publication Good Practices in Environmental Assessments. The materials and the ARVI tool produced by the project can be found on the project's website.

Commission invests € 63.8 million in new environmental projects across Member States


26 January 2016 The European Commission today announced an investment of € 63.8 million for the first-ever "Integrated Projects" to be funded under the LIFE programme for the environment. "Integrated Projects" were introduced to implement environmental legislation on a wider scale and increase the impact of funding for plans developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level. The six projects selected have a total budget of € 108.7 million, including € 63.8 million of EU co-financing. They could leverage and coordinate over € 1 billion in complementary funding from EU agricultural and regional funds, as well as national and private funds. The money will support projects in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Finland, and the UK.

The main feature of these projects is their all-encompassing approach, ensuring involvement of multiple stakeholders and promoting the mobilisation of at least one other funding source, be it EU, national or private. LIFE Integrated Projects were introduced to help Member States comply with key EU legislation in four areas: Nature, Water, Air and Waste.

Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “This is an example of Europe directly investing in citizens' quality of life. To best tackle major environmental and health challenges such as air and water pollution or biodiversity loss, existing policies must be made to work towards the same goals. Integrated Projects deliver precisely that."

The Integrated Projects in Belgium, Finland and Italy will help conserve Europe's nature, on a far wider scale than has previously been the case. The Nature projects have a combined budget of € 56.3 million, of which € 33.3 million is EU-funded. The projects can facilitate the coordinated use of € 393 million of complementary funding, such as for infrastructure through other available EU funds, in the management of environmentally protected Natura 2000 sites.

The Integrated Projects in Germany and the UK will contribute to the implementation of River Basin Management Plans, while the project in Poland will support implementation of a regional Air Quality Plan. Together, these three projects have a combined budget of € 52.4 million, of which € 30.4 million is EU-funded, and could facilitate the coordinated use of over € 1 billion of complementary funding. 

Descriptions of all six projects can be found here.

LIFE project wins Polish Innovation Award


25 January 2016 The project LIFE-ENERGA Living Lab-PL (LIFE13 ENV/PL/000004) was awarded with the prestigious Polish Innovation Award 2015 during the Third Polish Entrepreneurship Congress at the beginning of November in Łódź. The award is granted annually by the Polish agency for enterprise development and the Polish newspaper Forum Przedsiębiorczości to businesses and projects that have shown particular innovation in the field of research and development. In 2015 the award highlighted activities perceived as being particularly important for the future of Poland and Europe. Its main theme was innovative synergies between science and research.

ENERGA Living Lab specifically aims to demonstrate and disseminate information about HAN technology - an innovative system for the efficient management of electric energy in private households. The overall goal is to contribute to one of the key goals of EU climate policy by encouraging consumers to use electricity more efficiently thus reduce their carbon footprint. Project partners estimate that by testing HAN technology in over 300 households they will be able to reduce electricity consumption by 123.06 MWh and CO2 emissions by 109.52 Mg per household. The reduced electricity consumption will save participating households approximately €16 000 on their utilities bill.

More information about the project can be found on the ENERGA Living Lab website.

New publication: LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation

LIFE and Climate change adaptation

22 January 2016 The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication looks at the importance of partnership work to the successful implementation of EU nature and biodiversity policy, in particular the management of the Natura 2000 network. Effective conservation today means working with a variety of different stakeholder groups. It means going beyond traditional partnerships with those who make a living from the land or sea – farmers, fishermen, foresters etc. – and working with society as a whole.

The 76-page brochure, LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation, gives a taste of the breadth of stakeholder groups atypical to nature conservation that LIFE projects have worked with up till now. It reveals the secrets of successful projects and highlights important lessons for building strong and durable stakeholder partnerships for managing EU biodiversity.

It also offers suggestions for innovative ways of collaborating with traditional LIFE project stakeholders; ways that demonstrate how new private initiatives can complement existing public funding mechanisms, be economically sustainable and create jobs.

As this brochure shows, the existing involvement in LIFE projects of private sector stakeholders – salt producers, mines and quarries, electricity companies, tour operators, railways and so on – is a clear indication that the programme can generate mutual benefits for business, biodiversity and local economies.

First LIFE Preparatory projects support nature policy implementation


19 January 2016 The 2014 LIFE call for proposals saw the introduction of new categories of LIFE projects, such as Integrated Projects (which will be launched on 26 January 2016) and Preparatory projects (LIFE PRE). The latter category is for projects that address specific needs for the development and implementation of EU environmental or climate policy and legislation.

The European Commission’s 2014 call identified needs regarding:

  • the establishment of an EU environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) platform on Best Available Techniques (BAT);
  • the completion of EU28/Pan-European Species Red Lists for species groups relevant to the EU Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC); and
  • the development and update of EU-wide species action plans for bird species listed in Annex I and Annex II of the EU Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).

Two LIFE PRE projects have been funded that address the second and third of these needs. The EuroSAP project (LIFE14 PRE/UK/000002) has been running since April 2015 and aims to redefine the concept of species action plans. The project, which is coordinated by BirdLife International, is co-funded by LIFE, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and BirdLife partners in 12 countries across Europe.

This LIFE PRE project will develop or update species action plans (SAP) for eight bird species, including the velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca) and bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), as well as create a multi-species action plan to address eight of the most threatened European waders, such as the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata). It will also establish a system for coordination to enable the European Commission, EU Member States, international conventions and NGOs to work together more effectively for the conservation of bird species in Europe.

The LIFE European Red Lists project (LIFE14 PRE/BE/000001), which is led by the IUCN representation in Brussels, aims to establish a European Red List of bryophytes and pteridophytes, to complete the existing list of terrestrial molluscs and to assess a selection of saproxylic beetles and vascular plants. These five taxa (species groups) all play key roles in providing ecosystem services. The creation of European Red Lists will therefore provide a comprehensive overview of their distributions and extinction risk, provide policy guidance and support conservation actions. Assessing the status of these groups in Europe is not only essential for updating the Annexes of the Habitats Directive, it will also increase understanding of the species and the natural world.

For further information about both LIFE PRE projects see the LIFE EuroSAP and LIFE European Red Lists project summaries in the LIFE project database.

EU Sustainable Energy Awards up for grabs

EU Sustainable Energy Awards LOGO

18 January 2016 EU Sustainable Energy Awards up for grabs
The Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) has just launched this year's EU Sustainable Energy Awards competition. Any recent sustainable energy project or initiative – be it small and local or large-scale – can enter as long as it is based in the EU or Iceland, Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Israel, Moldova, Switzerland, Faroe Islands or Ukraine. Potential entrants include LIFE projects dedicated to energy efficiency, for instance.

The high-level jury will be looking for innovative and original initiatives that have a measurable impact in helping to reduce energy use or promote renewable energy and hence contribute to the EU’s climate and energy goals. They should also be replicable across Europe and be well-received by the general public.

There are four award categories in the competition:

  • Consumer, for actions that lead to the behavioural change of individual energy users;
  • Public Sector, for exemplary initiatives led by public and non-profit organisations;
  • Business, for forward-thinking businesses; and
  • the Citizens’ award for the project which best captures the public's imagination.

The competition closes on 22 February 2016. The award ceremony will take place during EU Sustainable Energy Week  (EUSEW) conference in Brussels in June 2016, where nominees and winners will have the opportunity to present and promote their projects.

Find out more on the EUSEW website, which provides all the information necessary to apply.

For inspiration, watch a video presenting the 2015 laureates.

The Best LIFE Environment projects 2014

Best LIFE Environment projects 2014

15 January 2016 This 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 Environment projects completed before the end of 2014.

The 25 featured projects - drawn from nine EU Member States – showcase examples of practical solutions to many of the most pressing environmental challenges of the age, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change, using water less wastefully, protecting soil quality, managing and reusing waste and developing greener manufacturing processes.

Eight projects received the ultimate accolade (‘Best of the Best’ project), including LIFE Information and Communication (INF) projects with an environmental focus in Slovenia and the UK. In addition, a further 17 projects (including one from the LIFE INF strand) were recognised as ‘Best’ LIFE projects for their excellent work.

All 25 award-winning projects demonstrate the significant contribution that the LIFE programme can make to the development of a low carbon, resource efficient, sustainable and growing EU economy.

Download The Best LIFE Environment projects 2014

Celebrating Natura 2000 Day in May 2016

Natura 2000 Day

13 January 2016 In May, people across Europe will get to celebrate the European Union’s Natura 2000 network. A variety of exciting events are being organised at Natura 2000 sites on and around Saturday, 21 May 2016 for members of the public and visitors to these protected havens.

Natura 2000 Day is about making European citizens more aware of the natural riches of the Natura 2000 network and of the conservation work they carry out. The date is an important one for Natura 2000 site managers because it is also when the European  Commission announces the winners of the Natura 2000 Award at a special ceremony in Brussels.

Natura 2000 day is an initiative of the LIFE project LIFE Activa Red Natura 2000 (LIFE11 INF/ES/000665) which, among other things, has produced a website for the day as well as promotional items, including a trilingual Natura 2000 day song. The main aim of the project is to increase awareness of the Natura 2000 network in Spain and across Europe helping to create a new relationship between the general public and the Natura 2000 network. In turn this will facilitate a smoother and more effective implementation of the Habitats and Bird Directives and ensure a better understanding and protection of biodiversity as a whole.

A website hosting a list of LIFE Natura 2000 day events will be available soon. Once online, Natura 2000 site managers are warmly invited to add their own site events to this calendar.

For more information about the day visit the Activa Red project website.

First Bulgarian conference on the reintroduction of conservation-reliant species

Photo: Hristo Peshev FWFF

12 January 2016 The first national conference on the reintroduction of conservation-reliant species, together with a related art exhibition, entitled Great Return, took place from 19–21 November 2015 at Sofia University, Bulgaria. The event was organised by the university’s Faculty of Biology, the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna and Green Balkans, and held under the auspices of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water.

The conference was attended by more than 100 academics, scientists and students. The event highlighted the work of Bulgaria’s conservation and scientific community and demonstrated their commitment to using the latest information and knowledge in allocating resources to conserve and restore endangered protected species.

The LIFE projects Kresna Gorge (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000363), Bright Future for the Black Vulture (LIFE14 NAT/BG/000649) and Lesser Kestrel Recovery (LIFE11 NAT/BG/000360) were all showcased at the conference. All three projects are successfully implementing or have successfully implemented activities to restore the population of various birds of prey and other endangered species in different localities across Bulgaria. 

The art exhibition took place on 19 November 2015 and included over 60 paintings from more than 40 artists. The works of art were the result of a contest which inspired both professional and amateur painters to portray rare and endangered local species.

More information and pictures from the two events can be found in English on the LIFE for Kresna Gorge website and the Green Balkans website.

New dog patrols protect rare eagle populations in Portugal

Photo: LIFE13 NAT/PT/001300

11 January 2016 The first dog patrols to detect the use of poison targeting eagle populations in Portugal are now operational. The illegal use of poisoning is a major threat to the eagle species, which is already one of the most threatened bird of prey species in Europe. The use of poison is also damaging to the environment and to human health.

The canine units were established under the LIFE Imperial project (LIFE13 NAT/PT/001300), which was launched to boost the conservation of the Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) in the country.

The LIFE project purchased seven dogs - both German shepherd and Belgium Malinois breeds. Having just finished their specific training for poison detection, the canine units are ready to begin patrols across a number of project sites in Portugal, namely Castro Verde, Vale do Guadiana, Mourão/Moura/Barrancos and Tejo Internacional/Terges/Ponsul.

The dog units will be a great asset to Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), the Portuguese law enforcement agency responsible for environment protection, as it seeks to prosecute those setting poison baits.

“The creation of these canine units, specific for poison detection, will increase the capacity to monitor and investigate this major threat to Iberian imperial eagles,” explains Major Costa Pinto from the GNR Canine Intervention Unit.

The canine units will moreover enable the agency to monitor areas that are difficult to access, allowing for the detection of dead animals killed by poisoning and the baits used to apply the poison. Their work will improve evidence collection and allow public prosecutors to present more robust legal cases to ensure the conviction and punishment of those responsible for the illegal use of poison.

Patrols with dogs have been successfully carried out in Spain for more than a decade.
The LIFE project, which is being coordinated by Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (League for the Protection of Nature), is promoting the maintenance and conservation of the Iberian imperial eagle’s habitat in order to enhance the species' natural recolonisation. Other actions include: improving the quality of breeding habitat for the existing nine pairs and new breeding pairs (at least three); increasing the availability of prey species in specified areas; improving efforts by game managers, hunters, land owners, decision-makers, birdwatchers and magistrates; and raising the awareness of the general public and stakeholders. More information is available from the project’s website

EWWR’s record week for waste reduction in Europe


08 January 2016 Last year’s edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) has once again been a success. With 40 coordinators coordinating over 12 000 actions in 33 countries, the 2015 edition beat all previous records regarding the number of coordinators involved and the number of countries covered. The 7th edition of the EWWR benefited from wide political support. In particular, it took place under the patronage of the European Parliament and its President, Martin Schulz.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of action developers and to the efforts of individual coordinators, the EWWR returned for an intensive week of awareness-raising events running from the 21-29 November 2015. Open to all, the EWWR happenings related to waste reduction, product reuse and material recycling, as well as to clean-ups, all over Europe. Participants could simply choose from the thousands of actions on the EWWR database.   

More details about the successful 2015 edition are available from the EWWR Press Release, EWWR Press Kit and a recent LIFE news article. The EWWR is now preparing for its annual awards ceremony, which takes place each year in May and which salutes the best actions implemented during the awareness-raising week.
The EWWR is run by the LIFE project EWWR+ (LIFE12 INF/BE/000459) which promotes the ‘3Rs’ of waste reduction: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Prior to the 2015 edition, more than 24 800 actions have taken place as a result of EWWR since its launch in 2009.


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