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LIFE Focus: Nature

Though these publications mainly feature examples of LIFE-Nature projects, they sometimes also contain relevant LIFE-Environment and LIFE-Third Countries projects.

Themes featured include :

LIFE and wildlife crime

LIFE and Wildlife crimeClick on image
to view as flippingbook

April 2018 - 60 pages

Wildlife crime has a negative impact on biodiversity across the world. The illegal killing, trapping or trade of species is putting the European Union’s biodiversity under pressure. In April 2017, the European Commission adopted the “Action Plan for nature, people and the economy” to improve the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and boost their contribution towards reaching the EU’s biodiversity targets for 2020.

LIFE & Wildlife Crime shows how LIFE projects have already helped contribute to each of the areas identified in the EU Roadmap towards eliminating illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds: monitoring and data collection, prevention, information exchange, training and awareness-raising, and enforcement and legal aspects.

The aim of the brochure is not only to highlight the actions of specific projects, but also to provide a set of lessons and best practices that will be of use to all those interested in tackling wildlife crime, with a particular focus on illegal killing (poisoning and poaching) of bird species and large carnivores.

Download: LIFE and wildlife crime

Download: Project list
pdf (~ 200 KB)

LIFE and coastal habitats

LIFE and coastal habitatsClick on image
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June 2017 - 96 pages

The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication highlights the issues threatening Europe’s coastal habitats and how the LIFE programme has addressed them. Coastal regions generate 40% of our GDP, but development must be sustainable and must recognise the natural value of our varied coastlines. Only 13% of coastal species are in a 'favourable' conservation status, while 73% of coastal habitats are assessed as being 'bad' or 'inadequate'.

It is in the interests of all business sectors, from tourism to shipping and fisheries, to safeguard and improve the health of our coastal ecosystems. Adopting an ecosystem approach to their management fosters, rather than hinders, growth and jobs.

The 96-page brochure, LIFE and coastal habitats, outlines the scope of innovative and best practices measures carried out by LIFE projects to improve the status of Europe’s coastal habitats and management of Natura 2000 network sites – from dune habitat conservation in the Baltic to coastal lagoon protection in the Black Sea. It features sections on all the different types of habitats targeted by the programme and concludes with a focus on the cross-cutting management issues facing coastal regions.

The EU’s integrated policy response covers action on climate change, water pollution, habitat loss and all the other factors impacting on European coastal areas, and LIFE has been instrumental in showing how these policy objectives can best be achieved.

Download: LIFE and coastal habitats
pdf(~ 9,4 MB)
Download: Project list

pdf (~ 200 KB)

LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation

LIFE and Climate change adaptationClick on image
to view as flippingbook

January 2016 - 80 pages

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.

Download: LIFE and new partnerships for nature conservation
pdf(~ 6 MB)
Download: Project list

pdf (~ 200 KB)

LIFE and freshwater fish

LIFE and freshwater fishClick on image
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February 2015 - 64 pages

The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a close look at the work LIFE projects have done to protect threatened freshwater fish species and improve their habitats. The 64-page brochure, LIFE and freshwater fish, highlights the status of key species and the threats they face, as well as providing an overview of LIFE's efforts to improve their conservation status, help in the management of the Natura 2000 network, and meet the targets set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

Since 1992, more than 135 LIFE projects have directly targeted over 50 threatened freshwater fish species listed in the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive or in the IUCN European Red List. Hundreds more projects have indirectly benefitted fish populations through restoration of river, lake and other habitats vital to the lifecycle of freshwater and migratory fish populations.

The publication features a plethora of best practice examples from such LIFE projects across the EU, including in-depth profiles of projects in Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy and Spain. In addition to chapters on habitat restoration, reintroduction and restocking work, actions to overcome river barriers and stakeholder engagement and awareness-raising measures, LIFE and freshwater fish concludes with a set of lessons from LIFE for all those involved in fish species conservation. 

Download: LIFE and freshwater fish
pdf(~ 6 MB)
Download: Project list

pdf (~ 200 KB)

LIFE and invasive alien species

LIFE and invasive alien species

November 2014 - 76 pages

The latest LIFE Nature Focus publication takes a timely look at one of the greatest threats to Europe's biodiversity, ecosystem services, human health and economic activities. The 76-page LIFE and invasive alien species brochure links the work of LIFE projects with the aims of the new EU Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation.

There are an estimated 1200-1800 IAS in Europe and the impact of such species is of growing concern. The LIFE programme has been addressing the problems posed by invasive alien species for more than two decades. Indeed, in that time some 265 LIFE projects have included measures to deal with IAS, ranging from steps to prevent their spread to control and eradication actions in places where invasive alien species are already present and having a negative impact on native species and habitats. LIFE also provides a deep well of learning on trans-border cooperation, dissemination and awareness-raising efforts with regards to IAS.

This new brochure examines the lessons learned from the LIFE programme's extensive experience of dealing with the impacts of IAS. As such it is essential reading for policymakers and practitioners in this field. This will be a valuable support for the implementation of the new EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species .

Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature

Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature

January 2014 - 60 pages

The latest LIFE Focus publication takes stock of the achievements to date of the LIFE Nature strand of the LIFE programme. Titled Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature, the 60-page brochure provides a user-friendly snapshot of the detailed assessments contained in the ex-post (after project’s end) evaluations of LIFE projects.

This evaluation process involves visits by experts from the LIFE Monitoring Team to a random sampling of completed LIFE Nature projects a number of years after they have finished. Some 9% of all LIFE Nature projects have been evaluated thus far. As well as outlining the history and methodology of the ex-post evaluation process, this new publication draws on the results of that qualitative research, backed up by new interviews with key stakeholders across several EU Member States, to highlight the lessons that can be learned in terms of LIFE Nature's long-term impact and sustainability at both project and programme level.

These lessons include the impact of LIFE on species and habitats, the effect of large-scale investments, LIFE's role in capacity-building (with a particular focus on newer Member States) and long-term success factors for projects, such as good project design and engagement with stakeholders.

Download: Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature (Updated 23/01)
pdf(~ 4 MB)

LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores

carnivores Click on image
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June 2013 - 76 pages

The latest LIFE Focus publication highlights the role of LIFE Nature funding in helping to conserve Europe’s endangered large carnivores (brown bear, wolf, Eurasian lynx), by addressing actual and potential conflicts with people living in areas where these species are present.

The publication demonstrates the link between project outcomes and EU policy relating to large carnivore conservation and is designed to support the EU Action on Large Carnivores. As well as providing an overview of the LIFE programme’s impact to date, it also draws conclusions about what has worked well and where there is room for improvement. With more than 75 featured projects, LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores provides numerous practical examples and lessons that can be drawn from the LIFE programme's work in this area and taken forward into the 2014-2020 funding period; lessons that are relevant to conservation managers and field workers, policy-makers and administrators, as well as local citizens and stakeholder groups (hunters, farmers, beekeepers etc.).

With a foreword from European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, and maps of bear, wolf and lynx presence within the EU, LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores is essential reading for anyone interested in this topic.

Download: LIFE and human coexistence with large carnivores (click on thumbnail to view as flippinbook)
pdf(~ 10 MB)

LIFE managing habitats for birds

LIFE managing habitats for birdsClick on image
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January 2013 - 80 pages

The conservation of Europe's birdlife has been an EU policy priority since the 1970s (the Birds Directive was first enacted in 1979, in fact). Since the establishment of the LIFE programme in 1992, which replaced the earlier ACNAT funding mechanism, EU-level support for endangered bird species and their habitats has focused on targeted practical conservation, restoration and management actions in Natura 2000 network sites throughout the Union.

The objective of this publication is to highlight some specific examples of habitat management for birds funded by LIFE. Examples cover a range of different habitats (principally wetlands, grasslands and forests), species and bio-geographical regions across the EU. Given the importance of sites all along the routes of migratory birds, there are also examples of how LIFE co-funding has been used for transnational cooperation projects managing habitats in multiple locations, as well as to track species to wintering spots in Africa and elsewhere in the EU. This will allow the development of a more integrated approach to conservation in future.

LIFE and invertebrate conservation

LIFE and invertebrate conservationClick on image
to view as flippingbook

May 2012 - 56 pages

Invertebrates are a very diverse group of species that extend over all environments, ranging from mountains to seas. They provide valuable ecosystems services, from pollination to the control of agricultural pests and also act as important environmental indicators (for instance of water quality in rivers, a function of freshwater pearl mussels). Yet, despite their importance and prevalence, there is a lack of knowledge about many invertebrates, resulting in a lack of care and conservation. Furthermore, the sheer number of threatened invertebrate species in Europe alone makes it difficult to target them through direct conservation action. As a result, the LIFE programme has tended to focus its funding on strengthening habitat security and conservation in order to support biodiversity richness and ecosystems health. This new LIFE Focus publication offers key practical examples of this approach – ranging from projects that manage agricultural land in a way that is favourable for rare butterfly species; to projects ensuring that ancient forests contain appropriate quantities of decaying wood and associated debris for saproxylic beetles. The publication also features examples from across the EU of how LIFE restoration actions have benefitted other groups of invertebrates, such as bees, dragonflies, snails and various freshwater and marine species.

LIFE preventing species extinction: Safeguarding endangered flora and fauna through ex-situ conservation

LIFE preventing species extinction: Safeguarding endangered flora and fauna through ex-situ conservation

June 2011 - 60 pages

Most LIFE Nature projects focus on conservation action 'in-situ', i.e. within the natural habitat of a particular threatened species. This may not be enough to help the most vulnerable species, however, in which case 'ex-situ' conservation measures are required to address the threat of extinction. The LIFE programme has a distinguished track record of funding crucial ex-situ interventions targeting a wide range of vulnerable species, ranging from flagship species such as the brown bear and golden eagle, to lesser-known but equally important fish, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and plants. LIFE-funded actions to support habitats ex-situ have contributed to enhancing biodiversity, supporting the EU's policy goals. The Commission is at present evaluating the contribution that ex-situ conservation has to make to the conservation of European species. This LIFE Focus publication highlights more than 80 LIFE Nature projects that feature ex-situ conservation actions, with the goal not only of highlighting innovative ideas and good practice, but also of pointing out some of the problems that previous LIFE projects have faced so that they might be avoided by current and future projects working in the challenging field of ex-situ conservation.

LIFE and European Mammals: Improving their conservation status

LIFE and European Mammals: Improving their conservation status

March 2011 - 60 pages

Europe is home to a wide range of mammals from the smallest shrew to the massive European bison, which can weigh up to 920 kg and is the largest land-based mammal native to this continent. Maintaining stable and healthy populations of mammals is an essential part of conservation. Many mammals are 'umbrella' species and actions targeted at these species can have a positive impact on the populations of a whole series of other species and a range of habitat types. These include emblematic species such as the Iberian lynx, the Abruzzo chamois and the monk seal, which also catch the imagination of the public, and thus help to raise awareness of biodiversity and nature conservation.

Though strategically important for Europe's rich biodiversity, many mammals have suffered as a result of habitat degradation and loss, in addition to other direct threats such as excessive hunting and human disturbance. While many species remain endangered, EU conservation policy has addressed threats to mammals, and some positive results have been achieved.

This brochure highlights many of the actions that the EU has supported and offers a valuable overview of what has been achieved and how we, together with a wide range of stakeholders, can succeed in securing the future of Europe's diverse range of mammals, both great and small.

LIFE building up Europe’s green infrastructure

LIFE building up Europe’sgreen infrastructure

April 2010 - 60 pages

Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation have been by far the biggest drivers of terrestrial biodiversity loss at EU level over the past 50 years. This is a result of the massive expansion of urban zones and transport infrastructures, which have been cutting up Europe’s landscape. In addition, traditional land-use practices have been replaced by more intensive, mechanised and industrial-scale activities, especially in the agricultural and forestry sectors. This has weakened ecosystems, their functions and the biodiversity they support.

LIFE Nature and, to a certain extent, LIFE Environment, have already made a contribution to developing Europe’s green infrastructure, mainly on a local or regional level. The challenge now is to assess the substantial knowledge acquired through LIFE-funded projects and to finalise the concept of the green infrastructure strategy. This strategy will aim to find ways to reduce landscape fragmentation, improve ecosystem resilience, including the protection of its biodiversity, adapt to climate change and integrate spatial planning.

The good practices and innovative solutions introduced by LIFE projects – as highlighted in this brochure – are demonstrating how such a green infrastructure can be best supported and built up in the future.

LIFE improving the conservation status of species and habitats

Europe’s reptiles and amphibians: Conservation in practice

March 2010 - 84 pages

EU Member States have recently completed the most comprehensive survey of EU biodiversity to date, reporting on the conservation status of more than 1 182 species and 216 habitat types, as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. This LIFE Focus publication shows how LIFE Nature is helping improve the conservation status of a range of species and habitats covered by the directive. The first half of the publication looks at a range of projects that have targeted mammals, birds, fish and lesser-known animal species, as well as plants. The second-half of the publication looks at the impact of the LIFE programme on a range of habitat types: forests, dunes, heathlands, wetlands, wet forests and grasslands.

LIFE and Europe’s reptiles and amphibians: Conservation in practice

Europe’s reptiles and amphibians: Conservation in practice

June 2009 - 60 pages

Reptiles and amphibians (collectively known as herpetofauna) are among the most diverse and colourful vertebrates in Europe. Sadly, they are often amongst the most threatened species too. This brochure highlights a selection of the many projects targeting reptiles and amphibians that LIFE has co-funded since its inception in 1992. These projects have variously focused on habitat restoration actions, captive breeding and reintroduction programmes and measures to safeguard the species in the wild (including awareness-raising).

Download: Reptiles and amphibians
pdf(~10 MB)

Protecting Europe’s Nature: Learning from LIFE

Learning from LIFE

March 2009

This 66-page publication is based on the proceedings of the LIFE Nature thematic conference, “Protecting Europe’s Nature: Learning from LIFE”, which took place in November 2008, in Brussels.


Download: Learning from LIFE
pdf EN PL(~12 MB)

LIFE and Europe’s grasslands: Restoring a forgotten habitat

Grassland Brochure

2008 - 56 pages

Grassland ecosystems hold an important part of Europe’s biodiversity. They offer ideal conditions for a vast diversity of habitats and species, are the source of a wide range of public goods and services, and also act as carbon ‘sinks’. Changes in agricultural practices and land use pressures mean that grasslands are disappearing at an alarming rate. This brochure highlights a selection of LIFE co-funded projects targeting grassland ecosystems within the Natura 2000 network.

LIFE and endangered plants - conserving Europe's threatened flora

Wetlands Brochure

2008 - 52 pages

Europe is blessed with a high rate of plant diversity, but despite their undeniable importance and aesthetic value, plants everywhere are under threat. This brochure explores the challenges for conservation of Europe’s endangered plants and highlights the role of the LIFE programme in helping to halt biodiversity loss, and to restore threatened habitats and natural systems. From Romania to northern Finland, France’s Seine Valley to Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the Mediterranean to Macaronesia, LIFE has supported a range of successful projects, helping to restore habitats and to protect endangered plants.

Download: LIFE and endangered plants
pdf(~7.75 MB)

LIFE and Europe’s wetlands - restoring a vital ecosystem

Wetlands Brochure

2007 - 68 pages

Wetland ecosystems hold an important part of Europe’s biodiversity. They provide ideal conditions for a vast diversity of habitats and species, and are especially important for birds providing vital nesting and migratory flyway areas. Despite their importance, however, wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate and are among Europe’s most threatened ecosystems. This brochure presents a selection of wetland projects that have received LIFE co-funding since 1992. The majority of case studies focus on the restoration and management of wetlands, while a number also target key wetland species.

Download: LIFE and Europe's wetlands
pdf(~8.40 MB)

LIFE and Europe's rivers - protecting and improving our water resources

Rivers Brochure

2007 - 52 pages

The examples featured in this brochure form an overview of how LIFE co-funded projects have helped Member States meet the requirements of the EU’s Water Framework Directive. Projects have helped to implement it by testing, validating and demonstrating procedures and approaches that aid the management and sharing of information and the development of guidance on technical issues.


Download: LIFE and Europe's rivers
pdf(~2.86 MB)

LIFE and the marine environment – promoting sustainable management of Europe’s seas

LIFE and the marine environment

2006 - 64 pages

This beautifully-illustrated publication explores the contribution the LIFE programme has made to the conservation of Europe’s highly endangered marine species and habitats.


Download: LIFE and the marine environment
pdf(~4.68 MB)

LIFE and European Forests


2006 - 68 pages (2011 for the PL Version)

This publication provides background details on the EU forest sector, and gives details of how LIFE has contributed in terms of: forest restoration, forest biodiversity, forest management and building partnerships to protect and improve forests.

Download: LIFE and European Forests
pdf EN EN(~4.23 MB)

Good practices in managing Natura 2000 sites

Integrated management of Natura 2000 sites


The "Good practices in managing Natura 2000 sites" website presents twenty-five practical examples of successful management practices and solutions covering five different sectors: farming, forests, rivers, marine, wetlands. These have been taken from projects funded under LIFE-Nature. The website can be accessed via the European Commission DG Environment Nature page. An explanatory leaflet is also available.

Integrated management of Natura 2000 sites - the contribution of LIFE-Nature projects

Integrated management of Natura 2000 sites

2005 - 48 pages

This publication examines the contribution that the LIFE-Nature programme has made to the integrated management of Natura 2000 sites. It contains examples of management plans that were produced during LIFE-Nature projects.

LIFE, Natura and the military


2005 - 86 pages

This brochure looks at LIFE-Nature projects that have a military dimension and also examines the context within which these projects took place.


Download: LIFE, Natura and the military
pdf(~2.95 MB)

LIFE for Birds – 25 years from the Birds Directive: the contribution of LIFE-Nature projects


2004 - 48 pages

This brochure examines the contribution of LIFE-Nature projects from 1992-2003, to the European Union ’s Birds Directive. Up to 2003, LIFE-Nature has invested some €367 million in projects targeting threatened birds species.

Download: LIFE for Birds
pdf (~3.9 MB)

LIFE-Nature: Communicating with stakeholders and the general public - Best practices examples for Natura 2000


2004 - 72 pages

This brochure examines LIFE-Natures’ wealth of experience of communicating with different stakeholder groups and the general public in order to gain acceptance and support for the Natura 2000 network.



Alien species and nature conservation in the EU: The role of the LIFE programme


2004 - 56 pages

This publication describes the role of LIFE to support innovative projects for the management of exotic or alien species, and highlights successful strategies, which are being implemented throughout the European Union.

LIFE and agri-environment supporting Natura 2000 - Experience from the LIFE programme


2003 - 72 pages

This book presents a series of practical examples of LIFE projects, according to agri-environmental themes. For each theme conclusions are drawn and - where appropriate - practical suggestions made as to the future application of relevant agri-environmental measures.



LIFE for Natura 2000 - 10 years implementing the regulation


2003 - 108 pages

After 10 years of project implementation (1992-2001), this publication draws up a review of the general impact of LIFE-Nature on the establishment of Natura 2000, and assesses its utility for the application of Community directives concerning nature.


Compensation for damage caused by bears and wolves in the European Union

Publication: Compensation  for damage caused by bears and wolves in the European Union

European Commission, DG ENV (LIFE Unit), 1999, 68 p

Only E-version available, the print version has run out of stock.





Conserving Mires in the European Union

Conserving Mires in the European Union

1999 - 96 pages

From Stockholm’s elegant waterfront to Rome’s bustling streets, Berlin’s modern museums to Lisbon’s famous streetcars - one of the most striking features of Europe today is its cultural diversity. The second may be its weather! driving rain in Dublin, scorching hot evenings in Athens…. This combination of different climates and human activities is also responsible for another of Europe’s more obscure jewels: its mire habitats. These are particularly well represented considering the size of the continent, but their decline is now a matter of grave concern – 70% of their former mire range has already been lost.

La conservation de l'ours brun

cation: Conservation de l'ours brun

European Commission, DG ENV (LIFE Unit), 1997, 44 p





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