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News: February 2017

Product Environmental Footprint initiative sees value of olives thanks to LIFE project

Photo:(LIFE11 ENV/GR/000942)

17 February 2016 The oLIVE CLIMA (LIFE11  ENV/GR/000942) LIFE project is actively contributing to the pilot phase for the elaboration of Product  Environmental  Footprint Category Rules  (PEFCRs) for olive oil. This process will finish late 2017 and its conclusions will be integrated into the European Commission’s policy proposals regarding circular economy actions that are due to be presented mid-2018.

oLIVE CLIMA is highlighting the climate mitigation potential of olive groves. Specifically, the project is testing the efficacy of a number of measures to increase carbon uptake from the atmosphere and storage of a considerable part of it, first in olive wood and then in the soil.

The project experts contributed to an important decision taken on 18 November 2016 by the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) of the unit dealing with the PEF . The decision recognises credits in the carbon footprint of olive tree products when it can be proven that carbon is stored for more than 100 years in the wood. The decision also covered cork tree products. This decision is a real milestone as it is the first time that, beyond forests, agricultural crops are considered as way to deliver climate change mitigation.

oLIVE CLIMA will next seek to highlight the carbon storage capacity of olive grove soil. The project expects to prove the climate mitigation potential from increasing Soil Organic Matter (SOM) in olive groves. The project will argue that such carbon storage deserves additional climate change mitigation credits if it can be proven to be ‘permanently’ bound.

The project's final results on soil carbon storage capacity in olive groves are expected for 2017 and will be transmitted to the TAB. If proven, the results are expected to offer significant benefits, both to the environment and to olive growers, as it strengthens the message to the consumer that increasing the sustainability of olive production is good not only for their nutrition and health, but also that it offers invaluable services to the environment. 

More information about oLIVE CLIMA is available from the project website.
Contact  details for the project: or

For more information about Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) check out the European Commission guide.

Act now to improve underground railway air quality


13 February 2016 The IMPROVE LIFE (LIFE13 ENV/ES/000263) project is looking for feedback from underground commuters. The project is currently running a short online questionnaire about underground railway air quality.

Commuting by underground rail is a daily activity for many Europeans. From an environmental perspective, the subway system is relatively clean way of moving large numbers of passengers. However, underground commuters can routinely be exposed to inhalable particulate matter (PM) levels that are higher than the normal legal limits for outdoor air quality in European cities. In fact, PM levels underground are typically much higher than those above ground.

The IMPROVE LIFE project is developing a benchmark study that it hopes will lead to real improvement in subway air quality. The project is being carried out in Barcelona, where the main pollutant sources will be identified in order to inform the prioritisation of cost-effective and low energy air pollution mitigation strategies.

By filling in the short online questionnaire you can help this initiative to reduce air contamination in subways and boost the implementation of air improvement strategies.
For the latest news about this project visit the IMPROVE LIFE website.  

Indicative planning for the LIFE call 2017


09 February 2016 The official 2017 call is provisionally scheduled to be published on the 28 April 2017.

An indicative planning for the LIFE call 2017 is also now available. Applicants busy designing a potential new LIFE project now have a rough guide to the expected deadlines.

Once ready, application packages and supporting information will also be made available, similar to previous calls.

New LIFE ASAP project drives awareness of invasive alien species problem


08 February 2016 LIFE ASAP (LIFE15 GIE/IT/001039) is protecting Italy’s biodiversity from the treat of invasive alien species (IAS) and actively supporting the implementation of the EU’s Invasive Alien Species Regulation, which came into force on 1 January 2015. The LIFE project has begun in a blaze of publicity, with articles in major daily Italian national and regional newspapers and a feature on the evening news of state broadcaster RAI.

Invasive alien species (IAS) represent a threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Scientists estimate that the number of invasive alien species in the EU has grown by 76 per cent in the past 30 years. IAS-related problems are estimated to cost EU taxpayers €12 billion a year. Beyond the financial impact, exotic flora and fauna can cause irreparable damage to natural habitats and rare native species.

The LIFE ASAP (Alien Species Awareness Program) project is informing the Italian public about the threat to native species posed by exotic plants and animals. It also aims to give effect to EU legislation by training public authorities to support the implementation of the IAS Regulation. By increasing public awareness of the problem the project can reduce both the deliberate and accidental spread of IAS (with a particular focus on the sale of pets and ornamental plants).

The project team, led by ISPRA, the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, is forging partnerships with key stakeholders including florists, pet shops, anglers, hunting organisations and horticulturalists in Italy to promote best practice as outlined in the voluntary European code of conduct in invasive alien species.

LIFE ASAP is engaging with experts to draw up an IAS blacklist whose presence and growth in Italy need to be eradicated. The project plans to train at least 115 public administration representatives on how to apply the IAS Regulation.

The project is also working with conservationists, zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, museums and national parks to help spread key messages to the public about the dangers posed to Europe’s natural heritage by seemingly harmless animals and plants.

Public information is a vital part of the project. As well as regular stories in the media, the project is working through airports, schools, voluntary groups and citizen science activities using social media and innovative tools such as smartphone apps. See their press kit here.

Update on the evaluation of LIFE Call 2016


07 February 2016 The evaluation of the 2016 proposals is progressing.

EASME foresees the following indicative dates for the next steps:

  • Letter to the applicants informing them on the results of the evaluation: February and March 2017.
  • Start of the revision phase for the pre-selected proposals: March-May 2017
  • Signature of grant agreements: June-July 2017


LIFE project discovers Mascarene petrel breeding site

Photo:LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075

06 February 2017 The LIFE+ Petrels (LIFE13 BIO/FR/000075) project has discovered a new breeding ground for the endangered Mascarene petrel (Pseudobulweria aterrima) in the French island of La Reunion in the Western Indian Ocean.

The project team has been intensively searching for Mascarene petrel sites since 2015, listening to thousands of hours of audio recordings and exploring the most remote and steepest parts of the island. The breeding ground was finally discovered by tracking the returning birds at night with infra-red equipment and abseiling down steep cliffs.

The project is continuing a 15-year initiative to find the breeding grounds of this rare bird species. Endemic to the island, its numbers have suffered from predation by introduced mammals, such as cats and rats. Light pollution, which causes many immature birds to become disoriented in flight, is another threat. The species was presumed extinct.

The LIFE project is in fact targeting two endangered seabirds. It is also aiming to ensure the survival of the Barau's petrel (Pterodroma baraui). Conservation measures include controlling the spread of the aforementioned invasive species in the remotest areas of the islands.

The team also expects to carry out artificial breeding of the target species as well as improve knowledge and awareness of them. Its efforts were boosted by the acquisition last summer of a pair of dogs to help identify the burrowing grounds of the petrels. They are being trained using rags impregnated with the birds’ scent.
For more about the project behind this great discovery see the project website. A related article with more details is also available (in French). English version is available here.

LIFE solar technology project leads to new job creation


01 February 2017 Showing how protecting the environment can be good for businesses and encourage jobs and growth in Europe's economy, Swedish start-up and solar technology company, EXEGER, has announced that it is to recruit skilled staff for a number of recently created green posts.

Supported by the LIFE programme via the Dyemond Solar (LIFE09 ENV/SE/000355) project, EXEGER has demonstrated a new screen-printing method allowing it to produce so-called dye-sensitized solar cells in an eco-friendly and cost-efficient way.

This uptake of new solar technology is a great example of how the LIFE programme incubates ideas and demonstrates new technologies, which with further investment can be scaled-up to marketable solutions with major economic and environmental benefits.

EXEGER solar cell technology is lightweight, flexible, attractively designed, and uses a unique patented architecture that enables it to seamlessly integrate into existing commercial technologies. Screen printing also enables solar cells to be produced in a variety of colours and shapes, and to incorporate logos. EXEGER has therefore targeted the consumer electronics market, by entering into joint development agreements with some of the world's largest electronic manufacturers to produce self-charging portable devices (with no need for batteries or chargers).

Having recently attracted a key investor EXEGER is now expanding in order to raise the company's annual capacity to 15 million cells, preparing it for delivery of full scale orders. The Swedish start-up is now planning to hire 5-10 new skilled staff to boost its team, with possible additional recruitments in the future.

The solar technology developed by the LIFE project is environmentally-friendly. The low-cost and relatively simple screen-printing technology for producing the cells has lower energy requirements than other solar cell production methods, does not use scarce or toxic raw materials, and generates no toxic emissions during manufacturing.
Further information about DYEMOND SOLAR can be found on the project's website.


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