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News: March 2016

CLEAN ROADS seeks feedback on road weather information system

Photo:LIFE11 ENV/IT/000002

31 March 2016 The CLEAN-ROADS (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000002) project is gathering information from motorists about the new Road Weather Information System (RWIS) it has been testing during the winter, near the city of Trento in northern Italy. The system aims to maintain roads in a more efficient and sustainable manner. The short Italian-language survey can be accessed here.

De-icing chemicals, in particular salt, are typically used for road maintenance in winter, but they have a negative impact on soil, vegetation and water, as well as on roads and vehicles. The CLEAN-ROADS project wants to optimise salt-spreading operations, to reduce salt usage and the environmental impacts of road maintenance. The approach taken gives drivers a better understanding of conditions and allows them take more responsibility as they travel.

The project’s RWIS provides drivers with short-term local weather forecasts and information on real-time road conditions, through an interactive map on the project’s website.

The LIFE project is now requesting feedback from local motorists about the usefulness of the first demonstration, involving six RWIS stations in the province of Trentino, before it is scaled up throughout the province. In the future, the project partners would like to distribute information on road conditions as widely as possible, utilising a variety of communication channels, including electronic message panels and radio.

Further information about CLEAN-ROADS can be found on the project’s website. The results of the survey will be made available in the coming months.

Working in partnership to rejuvenate Lake Stymfalia

Photo:LIFE12 NAT/GR/000275

30 March 2016 Project staff, experts and stakeholders working together to restore Lake Stymfalia, an inland wetland in southern Greece home to numerous species of resident and migratory birds, are hailing improvements to the lake’s health and biodiversity. The upturn is due to the LIFE-Stymfalia project (LIFE12 NAT/GR/000275), a four-year initiative that is part-funded by €1 million from the European Union’s LIFE programme and which has now reached its halfway point.

Cutting twelve acres of dense reed beds has helped to return part of the lake to its natural state, and the harvested reeds are being used as a raw material for an innovative pellet manufacturing facility to create renewable fuel.

Engaging the local community in the rejuvenation of the wetland has been at the heart of project activities so far. More than three hundred farmers and local residents have signed an agreement pledging support for the project’s goals, in particular the development of more sustainable water management and agricultural practices.

As well as seminars with local stakeholders to promote environmental awareness, project staff have led educational activities for schools in the area and have promoted rural entrepreneurship as a way of using the restoration of the wetland to the long-term advantage of the local economy.

An exhibition at the environmental museum of Stymfalia shows the fragile and impressive biodiversity of the lake, the importance of preserving it for future generations and the steps taken by the Life-Stymfalia project to secure that legacy.

The project’s coordinator, Piraeus Bank, has established a green investment division that grants funds to environmental projects. The bank has joined with local government, an environmental consultancy, a renewable energy organisation, a cultural foundation and a research centre to promote the recovery and sustainable management of this resource.

As well as its rich birdlife, Lake Stymfalia is renowned as a habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, including reptiles, mammals and plant life. The wetland is also home to endangered species of fish.

The Lake Stymfalia even features in Greek mythology. The giant, man-eating Stymfalian Birds with their bronze beaks and poisonous dung rampaged through Arcadia until Hercules, son of Zeus, banished them by using a rattle to scare them into the air and slayed many of them with arrows – one of the Twelve Labours of Hercules.

The modern reality is very different. Until the start of this project, the birds that congregate in this wetland were endangered by the progressive degradation of the environment, and in particular the rapidly declining water levels resulting from agricultural drainage.

At the midpoint of this project, the Life-Stymfalia team are celebrating achievements made so far and looking to complete planned activities. All the details can be found in the project’s latest newsletter.

Work continues to develop an environmental interpretation path and birdwatching site on the fringes of the lake, which will contribute to the twin goals of successful site management and the promotion of eco-tourism.

Reed bed harvesting will be intensified to clear more areas of the wetland, and educational efforts will be more widely deployed to engage more students and residents living close to the lake.

LIFE project wins coveted award for sustainable tourism promotion

Photo:GeoparkLIFE

23 March 2016 The GeoparkLIFE project (LIFE11 ENV/IE/000922) has won a prestigious National Geographic prize for its efforts to protect and enhance the pristine environment of Burren in western Ireland.

The Destination Leadership award recognises the efforts made by the GeoparkLIFE project consortium to encourage the local tourist industry to embrace sustainable practices. The prize, one of National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards, reflects the project’s success in combining the goals of environmental protection and tourism development.

Representatives of the GeoparkLIFE project received the accolade at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel and tourism convention.

“The Destination Leadership Award is a category for destinations demonstrating environmental best practices, protection for cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local people and educating travellers on the principles of sustainable tourism. The recognition received from such a prestigious and well-respected organisation is a ringing endorsement of the work with our partners over a number of years,” says Carol Gleeson, Manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.

She adds that, “this work includes facilitating the establishment of the Burren Ecotourism Network achieving UNESCO Global Geopark status, UNESCO site designation, providing environmental and business training, and most importantly linking high responsible tourism standards with economic benefit to the area and was a key component of attracting €2.2m funding through the EU LIFE programme to develop an international sustainable tourism destination model,” Ms. Gleeson added.

The Burren area of County Clare is famed for its dramatic limestone landscape. Burren and the nearby Cliffs of Moher on the Atlantic coast attract close to one million tourists a year.

The project’s partners – public authorities, national agencies and universities – conceived the GeoparkLIFE project to ensure tourism remains a motor of the regional economy but not at the expense of its breathtaking natural beauty and rich biodiversity.

GeoparkLIFE’s success is based on a collaborative approach in which stakeholders in the regional tourism industry are incentivised to become guardians of the environment through resource efficiency, waste reduction and a focus on lower carbon emissions.

The project engages local communities by offering training in conservation management to develop a skills base and provide the basis for positive momentum once the five-year project ends in December 2017.

The project will result in several achievements by the end of its life: tourism service providers strengthened with new conservation and resource management capacities, improvements to archaeological and natural sites and a sustainable tourism model to safeguard the regional economy and environment for future generations.

LCiP Awards 2016: celebrating SMEs reducing their environmental impact

LCIP LOGO

22 March 2016 The deadline for entries to this year’s LCiP Awards in Wallonia is fast approaching. The LCiP Awards are part of the LIFE project LifeCycle in Practice (LIFE12 ENV/FR/001113) that helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belgium (Wallonia), France (Nord Pas de Calais), Portugal and Spain (Basque Country) reduce the environmental impact of their products and services through the uptake of life-cycle approaches.

Applying life-cycle approaches such as life-cycle assessments, ecodesign and environmental labelling is becoming progressively more important as businesses are increasingly expected to enhance resource efficiency, pollute less and generally be more environmentally-friendly.

To address this challenge, the LCiP project was set up to promote the uptake of approaches that have a positive environmental impact and bring business benefits to SMEs in the construction, waste management and energy equipment sectors.
In Wallonia, the 2016 LCiP Awards will recognise and reward the best lifecycle approaches for SMEs in the fields of construction and waste management. Entries must be submitted by 2 April 2016 by sending a form which can be downloaded here and sent via email to: lcip@greenwin.be.

The finalists will be announced on 19 May 2016 in Gembloux, Belgium during the ceremony for the Belgian Circular Economy Awards 2016.

For more information click here or contact the LCiP Project Manager, Pierre Echard at: pierre.echard@greenwin.be

Belgian LIFE Nature project launches route app for visitors

LIFE Grote NeteWoud project app

21 March 2016 The LIFE Grote NeteWoud project (LIFE12 NAT/BE/000438) has a new route app to encourage exploration of natural areas in Flanders managed by project beneficiary Natuurpunt. The route app was launched on 20 March 2016 in the Grote Netewoud Visitors Centre in Meerhout, Belgium.

At the launch, the app was introduced by Noah Janssen, Director of Nature Management at Natuurpunt and people were given the first opportunity to walk the routes in the Grote Netewoud nature reserve with this new information resource.
Visitors can download the app for free before starting on the nature trails. Along the way, it offers explanations and pictures of the typical plants, animals, landscapes and cultural heritage, together with general information about the Natura 2000 network and the LIFE programme.  The route app provides a choice of free walking tours covering the whole of Flanders, with area maps and a simple interface for selecting nearby routes. It also notifies users when new routes are added.

The aim of the LIFE Grote NeteWoud project is to contribute to the wider restoration of the unique mosaic of landscapes and habitats in the Natura 2000 network site in the valley of the Grote Nete, through actions especially targeting the alluvial forest habitat. This habitat is critical for supporting otter (Lutra lutra), black stork (Ciconia nigra), beaver (Castor fiber) and other species. The project is also raising awareness by enhancing the experience of visitors to the area, for example, by creating and improving walking trails with special features for adults and children. The route app is part of this campaign, which is expected to attract more visitors and boost the ecotourism sector in the region.

To route app can be downloaded for Apple and Android devices.

For further information on LIFE Grote NeteWoud, visit the project's website.

Belgian LIFE Nature project launches route app for visitors

LIFE Grote NeteWoud project app

18 March 2016 The LIFE Grote NeteWoud project (LIFE12 NAT/BE/000438) has a new route app to encourage exploration of natural areas in Flanders managed by project beneficiary Natuurpunt. The route app was launched on 20 March 2016 in the Grote Netewoud Visitors Centre in Meerhout, Belgium.

At the launch, the app was introduced by Noah Janssen, Director of Nature Management at Natuurpunt and people were given the first opportunity to walk the routes in the Grote Netewoud nature reserve with this new information resource.
Visitors can download the app for free before starting on the nature trails. Along the way, it offers explanations and pictures of the typical plants, animals, landscapes and cultural heritage, together with general information about the Natura 2000 network and the LIFE programme.  The route app provides a choice of free walking tours covering the whole of Flanders, with area maps and a simple interface for selecting nearby routes. It also notifies users when new routes are added.

The aim of the LIFE Grote NeteWoud project is to contribute to the wider restoration of the unique mosaic of landscapes and habitats in the Natura 2000 network site in the valley of the Grote Nete, through actions especially targeting the alluvial forest habitat. This habitat is critical for supporting otter (Lutra lutra), black stork (Ciconia nigra), beaver (Castor fiber) and other species. The project is also raising awareness by enhancing the experience of visitors to the area, for example, by creating and improving walking trails with special features for adults and children. The route app is part of this campaign, which is expected to attract more visitors and boost the ecotourism sector in the region.

To route app can be downloaded for Apple and Android devices.

For further information on LIFE Grote NeteWoud, visit the project’s website.

LIFE announces the Best Projects of 2015

Best Projects of 2015

17 March 2016 The most effective and inspiring LIFE projects completed during 2015 will be honoured at award ceremonies taking place during EU Green Week on 31 May 2016. And they can now be exclusively revealed online…  

In all, some 52 Best Projects have been selected, based on scoring of a range of criteria (see the LIFE Best Projects brochures for details). The winning projects represent the three strands of the LIFE+ programme - Nature; Environment; and Information & Communication – and are drawn from 15 EU Member States in total (see infographic).

Below you will find the full list of projects, presented in chronological order by project reference. To find out more about all 52 award-winners, check out the Best Projects section of the LIFE website.

The Best LIFE Nature Projects 2015

  • Mostviertel-Wachau (LIFE07 NAT/A/000010)
  • Streuobstwiese Albvorland (LIFE07 NAT/D/000236
  • LIFE FOR THE BOURGAS LAKE (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000277)
  • VULTURES' RETURN (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000278)
  • Riparian Habitats in BG (LIFE08 NAT/BG/000281)
  • VENENO NO (LIFE08 NAT/E/000062)
  • Rohrschollen island (LIFE08 NAT/F/000471)
  • Boreal Peatland Life (LIFE08 NAT/FIN/000596)
  • HUSEEDBANK (LIFE08 NAT/H/000288)
  • LIFEAQUILA (LIFE08 NAT/PL/000510)
  • MoorLIFE (LIFE08 NAT/UK/000202)
  • CAP DOM (LIFE09 NAT/FR/000582)
  • Falco cherrug B-H-R-S (LIFE09 NAT/HU/000384)
  • COORNATA (LIFE09 NAT/IT/000183)
  • ochrona bociana białego (LIFE09 NAT/PL/000253)
  • Pustynia Błędowska (LIFE09 NAT/PL/000259)
  • Biomass use for Aquatic W (LIFE09 NAT/PL/000260)
  • Polskie Ostoje Ptaków (LIFE09 NAT/PL/000263)
  • WETMAN (LIFE09 NAT/SI/000374)
  • APOMARINA_SK (LIFE09 NAT/SK/000396)
  • JUNIPERCY (LIFE10 NAT/CY/000717)
  • SOIL-Montana (LIFE10 NAT/ES/000579)
  • RARITY (LIFE10 NAT/IT/000239)

The Best LIFE Environment Projects 2015

  • EDEA-RENOV (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000466)
  • DOMOTIC (LIFE09 ENV/ES/000493)
  • REDUST (LIFE09 ENV/FI/000579)
  • ACEPT-AIR (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000289)
  • SOL-BRINE (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000299)
  • ENERGY-WASTE (LIFE09 ENV/GR/000307)
  • DYEMOND SOLAR (LIFE09 ENV/SE/000355)
  • EDOC (LIFE09 ENV/UK/000023)
  • BREAD4PLA (LIFE10 ENV/ES/000479)
  • POLYMIX (LIFE10 ENV/ES/000516)
  • AQUAENVEC (LIFE10 ENV/ES/000520)
  • Odourless casting (LIFE10 ENV/FI/000059)
  • HARMONICA (LIFE10 ENV/FR/000211)
  • ELINA (LIFE10 ENV/GR/000606)
  • PODEBA (LIFE10 ENV/IT/000365)
  • NOW (LIFE10 ENV/IT/000404)
  • B.R.A.V.E. (LIFE10 ENV/IT/000423)
  • SEWeb (LIFE10 ENV/UK/000182)
  • BIOTTOPE (LIFE11 ENV/FR/000742)
  • HEO (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000103)
  • PRISCA (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000277)
  • GeoPyrz (LIFE11 ENV/PL/000447)
  • ACUMEN (LIFE11 ENV/UK/000402)
  • LIFE GREEN SINKS (LIFE12 ENV/IT/000736)

The Best LIFE Information & Communication Projects 2015

  • LANDLIFE (LIFE10 INF/ES/000540)
  • AQUAVIVA (LIFE10 INF/SI/000135)
  • REBIRTH (LIFE10 INF/SI/000138)
  • BEST FOR BIODIVERSITY (LIFE10 INF/PL/000673)
  • Futurescapes (LIFE10 INF/UK/000189)

A jury of representatives of the Member States and European Commission will select a short list of the most exemplary LIFE projects from the Best projects mentioned above. These ‘Best of the Best’ projects will be revealed at the LIFE Nature and LIFE Environment award ceremonies in Brussels held during the afternoon and evening of 31 May respectively. There will also be a chance for the public to vote for their favourite LIFE Environment project in the LIFE Community Award category. Details of how to cast your vote will be announced shortly on the LIFE website.

You can find out more about all these award-winning projects in our annual LIFE Best Projects brochures, which will be published later this year.

Beyond Wood - forest ecosystems services policy conference

forest ecosystems services policy conference

16 March 2016 The European Commission is organising a policy conference on Europe's forest ecosystems. Beyond wood - the multiple services provided by Europe's forests, which takes place on 23 May 2016 in Brussels, will gather key players in the field to discuss what needs to be done and how the EU can help.

The conference is based around three themes:  

  1. EU forests ecosystems, which will examine the challenges and opportunities of forest provisioning, regulation, habitat and cultural services.
  2. Preserving and enhancing EU forest ecosystems, which will look at real-life experiences of managing forest landscapes and enhancing their benefits in different contexts.
  3. EU actions to benefit from, and preserve, forest ecosystems.

A panel debate will tease out possible pathways to the achievement of the EU biodiversity targets and enhancing forest ecosystem services.

The event is of interest to LIFE programme participants. More than 100 LIFE projects support forest ecosystems and their services, such as LIFE SMART4Action (LIFE13 ENV/IT/000813) which utilises forest monitoring and information and reporting systems or LIFE MONTSERRAT (LIFE13 BIO/ES/000094) whose integrated silvopastoral management plan helps to preserve biodiversity and prevent wildfires.

Furthermore the recent Neemo LIFE forest thematic report highlights the contribution of LIFE ENV/INF/BIO/NAT projects to the implementation, dissemination and further development of EU environmental policies and legislation.  

Beyond Wood is being held on the same day and prior to the European Commission's Natura 2000 Award Ceremony. Participants can thus combine attendance at both events. Furthermore, Beyond Wood takes place the day after the International Day for Biological Diversity and just prior to EU Green Week 2016 (30 May to 3 June).

More information about the Beyond Wood programme and to register online click here.

Spanish national television features LIFE project documentary series

RTVE website

10 March 2016 Awareness of the Natura 2000 network in Spain is getting a major boost thanks to the LIFE project Activa Red Natura 2000 (LIFE11 INF/ES/000655). The first episode of the LIFE project’s specially developed documentary series for national broadcaster RTVE national was shown on 5 March 2016. The 28-episode series is being broadcast weekly on Saturdays at 13h30 on the RTVE channel La 2, and also every Sunday at 09h05 on Radio 5.

The 30-minute episodes look at the importance of the Natura 2000 network in protecting Spain’s important natural and cultural heritage, including vulnerable species and habitats, and it focuses on people who are conducting sustainable economic activities in the protected sites.
Humberto Delgado Rosa DG ENV, European Commission, who was interviewed by the filmmakers, attended the press conference to launch the television series. DG Environment is promoting the upcoming episodes to raise the profile of the European Natura 2000 network.

The main objective of the Activa Red Natura 2000 LIFE project is to improve awareness of and appreciation for the Natura 2000 network in Spain. At the launch event, Asunción Ruiz, executive director of project beneficiary SEO/BirdLife, said that the NGO is proud to have participated in the documentary series, which will give a "definitive boost" to the LIFE project’s goal of disseminating knowledge about the network of protected sites.

He emphasised that the purpose is to, "open a window onto the Natura 2000 network through the eyes of those who live and work in these protected areas,” and added that the Natura 2000 network illustrates how nature conservation can go hand-in-hand with socio-economic development.

Fundación Biodiversidad and the Spanish Ministry of agriculture, food and environment (Magrama) both support the documentary series, which is directed and produced by Miguel Llorens and narrated by Mara Torres.
The first episode introduces the Natura 2000 network and its benefits, through interviews with technicians and experts. Subsequent episodes tell the stories of some of the inhabitants of these diverse sites, which cover around 30% of Spain’s territorial area. The series therefore shows how people, such as farmers, small-scale food producers, an organic wine producer, a  beekeeper, a renowned chef, a hotel owner and an adventure sports operators, are working in coexistence with environmental objectives. These people "deserve to be our new heroes in conservation," believes Mr Ruiz.

After broadcast, episodes are available to watch on the RTVE website and on the LIFE project’s website. Information about the project’s other activities can also be found on the latter website, including about Natura 2000 Day, which will be held this year on 21 May 2016.  

Your opinion counts! Today starts our survey for the LIFE website

LIFE 2016 survey

09 March 2016 Please take a couple of minutes of your time to anwser to our user satisfaction survey for the LIFE website. This survey will help us to re-design and improve the website. It will be open for two months until 07th of June.

Results of the survey will be shared on the LIFE website and on our Facebook page mid June. Please note that no private data is collected in this survey.

We thank you for participating!

To the survey >>

LIFE projects highlighted at Italian workshop on treatment and reuse of dredged sediment

Photo: LIFE12 ENV/IT/000442

03 March 2016 Two Italian LIFE projects, LIFE CLEANSED (LIFE12 ENV/IT/000652) and SEKRET Life (LIFE12 ENV/IT/000442), presented their findings at a workshop organised by the region of Tuscany on 24 February 2016 in Florence. Both projects are dedicated to the treatment and reuse of sediment dredged from rivers and ports. They contributed to the workshop session, ‘Dredging in ports: a challenge to the environment’.

The workshop was attended by, among others, Federica Fratoni, councillor for the environment of the region of Tuscany; Giovanni Motta the Manager of environmental services for the port authority of Livorno; Elizabeth Scialanca, Desk Officer (DG ENV LIFE Unit), European Commission; and NEEMO project monitor Roberto Ghezzi .
Ms Fratoni commented on the success of the Tuscan LIFE projects, and their role in implementing Community policies on key issues such as environmental protection and sustainable development. "The result of technical research and innovation shows how a sensitive issue such as dredging of the ports can provide resources and environmental effects of great value,” she said. “So we hope that the work supported by European funding can progress in this area and produce results beneficial to the environment, the economy and infrastructure development.”

The LIFE CLEANSED project is demonstrating an innovative, integrated, multi-sector approach for the smart and sustainable management of dredged river sediments. The project is showing how polluted sediment can be transformed into a valuable material, for use in plant nurseries and for road building, via a specific decontamination treatment. In particular, the project has demonstrated sediment reuse as a substrate for growing ornamental species and as a material for building a hundred meters of cycle path. Find out more on the project’s website.

SEKRET Life is demonstrating that sediment dredged from port waters, which is contaminated with heavy metals and hydrocarbons, can be treated using ElectroKinetic Remediation (EKR). The project’s EKR demonstration plant in the port of Livorno is showing the environmental and economic benefits of this solution, with cleaned sediment being used for banks to build docks rather than being landfilled. Read more on the SEKRET Life website.

 

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