19 January 2018 A survey of Mongolia’s sprawling grasslands has convinced Hortobágy National Park to overhaul conservation strategies in the Hungarian steppe. The report outlines how nomadic traditions could help conserve a unique European ecosystem.
Traditionally, livestock reared in the Pannonian Steppe between Austria and Romania has fed on dry grass and shrubs. Marshy vegetation also grows between the shores of the steppe’s shallow lakes, but herders save this food for when the lake beds dry out. Lessons from Mongolia are questioning this logic.
18 January 2018 Ornithology institutes across Europe have brought online the largest citizen science dataset ever produced on biodiversity in the EU.
The LIFE-funded Euro Bird Portal has uploaded over 40 million of bird observations and translated them into animated maps. More than 100 000 amateur birdwatchers have contributed to the dataset. Combined with nationally-funded observation campaigns, the records are helping scientists re-evaluate the conservation status of 105 avian species, notably tracking changes in their behaviour linked to climate change.
10 January 2018 The anti-poison dog unit created by the Life Under Griffon Wings project has collected vital evidence for a court case in Sardinia (Italy).
The case involves a farmer who spread poisoned baits around his livestock pastures to kill predators, such as foxes and martens. However, instead, the victims were domestic dogs and cats, ravens, and a wild boar. If left in the field, the carcasses of poisoned animals remain a threat to other creatures in the food chain, including scavenging vultures.
09 January 2018 LIFE Laser Fence is investigating whether an innovative laser technology called Agrilaser can deter agricultural pests.
The project team has completed the first trial of a prototype that emits an unsettling array of laser beams. They are now testing how effectively this so-called laser fence keeps rabbits and other hungry mammals out of fields and orchards.
21 December 2017LIFE ZARAGOZA NATURAL has won an award at the 2nd European Urban Green Infrastructure Conference (EUGIC) for its Green Infrastructure for Zaragoza Master Plan.
The City Council of Zaragoza, the project beneficiary, picked up one of the three EUGIC 2017 Awards given at the conference in Budapest on 29-30 November 2017. These were awarded to the poster presentations that the EUGIC 2017 Jury considered the most innovative, interesting and creative Urban Green projects.
20 December 2017Both harsh and hopeful headlines made environmental news in 2017. Through a year racked by forest fires and hurricanes, the LIFE-programme has continued to support green citizen-led initiatives, clean-tech start-ups, and broader participation in global climate talks.
The LIFE programme has now been at the frontline of EU efforts to preserve its natural heritage for 25 years. To celebrate the programme’s silver jubilee, eco-enthusiasts from across the continent have organised over 200 events.
19 December 2017The European Solidarity Corps celebrated its first birthday on 7 December. Over the past 12 months, more than 40 000 young people from all countries in the EU have signed up to the initiative. The European Commission has launched a first call for LIFE-funded projects to deploy these volunteers in efforts to conserve Natura 2000 sites.
14 December 2017A new study shows how selectively thinning trees can restore degraded pine forests and help contain the onset of climate change. Researchers also claim that the innovative silvicultural treatment makes forests nicer to visit and more valuable to their communities.
13 December 2017The wild forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) is making a comeback in the EU. Once common in the snowy forests of north-eastern Europe and bordering Russia, the subspecies went extinct in Finland in the early 20th century. The project WildForestReindeerLIFE is now helping Finland recover its endemic species, placing this recent addition to Christmas folklore back in the countryside it came from.
12 December 2017 A recent report by the LIFE-funded European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) project says that the EU purchased over 6 million tonnes of clothing in 2015 alone. Most of those items will end up in landfills in less than five years, but their impact on the environment will last longer.
11 December 2017There are now more grey partridges in the mountains around Alto Campoo, in northern Spain, compared to their numbers in 2014. This is one positive signal that the LIFE Econnect project in the area is having its intended effects of revitalising local wildlife and restoring some of the damage inflicted by ski-based tourism.
05 December 2017Return of the Neophron has delivered a key measure for securing the survival of globally-endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Greece.
The LIFE project produced a National Species Action Plan (SAP) for Egyptian vulture, which was recently endorsed by the Greek Deputy Ministers of Finance, and Environment and Energy. On 25 October 2017, the SAP was published in the Official State Gazette.
02 December 2017 A rose-coloured liquid extracted from a common yellow plant is helping the green economy flourish in an old Spanish mining site and naturally nickel-rich soils in Albania. It is also boosting the circular economy there and across Europe.
The flower, Alyssum murale, absorbs nickel and removes pollution from the soil. Land that has for years been unsafe for people to venture onto, and perilous to grow food on, is being regained.
01 December 2017 The LIFE programme is on track to be effective, efficient, relevant and complementary and to provide EU added value. Those are the main findings of the mid-term evaluation of the only EU programme exclusively dedicated to the environment, nature conservation and climate action.
The European Commission's mid-term evaluation of the LIFE programme for the 2014-2020 funding period explored whether the LIFE programme continues to be relevant in tackling the issues it seeks to address.
30 November 2017 This issue of LIFEnews looks forward to EU Green Week 2018. It also reports on LIFE’s latest contributions to the circular economy, notably supporting events at COP23, Ecomondo and the European Week of Waste Reduction.
29 November 2017The first successful breeding of a Mediterranean storm-petrel ringed under an ongoing Maltese LIFE project has occurred at L-Irdum tal-Madonna in Mellieħa.
Researchers from BirdLife Malta's LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija project have confirmed breeding at the site following the fledging of a chick in 2016 and the ringing of a nestling which hatched this year.
28 November 2017A historic increase in global trade and mobility is carrying record numbers of animals and plants out of their native home and into vulnerable new habitats. Experts from LIFE-funded projects are meeting in Milan on 29 November to stop invasive alien species from damaging local infrastructure, raising health risks and threatening biodiversity in the EU.
Over a thousand alien species living in Europe today, over a thousand are considered invasive. This foreign wildlife can be endearing to the public, but it often proves devastating to the environment, threatening native plants and animals, and causing damages that cost EU economies billions of Euros every year.
27 November 2017From turning old tyres into surfaces for new roads, and recycling poultry manure in the tanning industry to soften leather, this year's visitors at the Ecomondo conference in Rimini, Italy, saw how the LIFE programme was turning the circular economy into reality with a raft of innovative projects.
Ecomondo is the largest event on the circular economy to be held in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The European Commission took part in the event with presentations, roundtables and interactions with its over 100 000 visitors.
24 November 2017Nature lovers visiting Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses have celebrated 25 years of LIFE-funded conservation work with a stroll through prehistoric peatlands. These peat bogs straddle today’s border between England and Wales, although they have existed for 10 000 years longer than either country. In a series of events marking LIFE’s silver jubilee this year, visitors from all over Europe were introduced to the site’s unique heritage by hosts as unlikely as creepy crawlies and reeking fungi.
“There is no point in just telling people that peat bogs are amazing,” said John Hughes from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Few people immediately connect with the flat, rough and ancient landscapes. But small, personal experiences can help reveal their vast importance.
23 November 2017The 9th edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) is sweeping across Europe. The past few days have seen over 13 000 events pull in crowds of volunteers to reduce waste, reuse products and recycle materials.
Launched as a LIFE project in 2009, the EWWR has been raising awareness about waste prevention for almost a decade. Its objective is to change public consumption patterns and waste habits, so as to bring about a thriftier, more sustainable society.
At present, the average European throws out half a tonne of waste each year. In addition to the cost of producing and disposing of these resources, their lifecycle from factories to landfills imposes unsustainable strains on the environment.
22 November 2017Climate change is making floods in the north of Italy more frequent and less predictable. As part of the LIFE-funded PRIMES project, communities are learning to read early warning systems and respond together to future emergencies.
This month, dozens of citizens and volunteers in the region of Emilia-Romagna, around Bologna, in Italy, took part in a crisis simulation. Beneficiaries of the LIFE PRIMES project evacuated participants from their homes, and students from a school leaving them to rehearse what they had learnt about surviving floods. The role-playing exercise constituted the final step in a citizen outreach campaign this year to prepare the region for its next deluge.
16 November 2017Last week, London foodies gathered in Hackney to experience fine dining on typical household scraps. As part of the LIFE-funded TRiFOCAL project, a neighbourhood hangout feasted guests on ingredients other restaurants might have thrown away.
Recycling pieces of bread, meat and vegetables, its chefs put together three courses, including a carrot, rosemary and almond milk soup with croutons, and a first-class chicken curry. The meal constitutes a first step in a LIFE-funded campaign to teach Londoners how to eat healthy and live sustainably.
Last month, the European Commission adopted guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU, a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Action Plan. “Around 550 000 tons of food are redistributed to 6.1 million people by food banks in the EU,” said European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. “But that's only a fraction of the estimated volume of food which could be redistributed to prevent food waste and help fight food poverty.”
15 November 2017Climate talks get personal this week as Fiji’s presidency of the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) calls for participation from citizens and civil society.
On cue, the LIFE Programme held a side-event in which NGOs, academics and private companies swapped tips on protecting the environment and financing climate action in the Talanoa spirit of open dialogue that climate negotiators are aspiring to in this year’s international climate talks.
During the opening session of COP23, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, stressed the importance of work from non-state actors in tackling climate change. “We must make this effort more relevant to people’s lives,” said Mr Bainimarama. As a step in this direction, Fiji is “giving much more emphasis to the climate action zone” this year.
09 November 2017Grant recipients from across Europe converged on Brussels at the end of October to mark the launch of 139 new LIFE-funded projects. Having invested €222 million in these environmental initiatives, the LIFE programme invited its beneficiaries for a word of advice on how to run activities smoothly over the duration of their grant. The event also offered an emerging community of eco-peers the opportunity to swap ideas before getting to work.
Zsuzsanna Hercig, from the Ministry of Interior of Hungary, says that it was her first experience in Brussels. She has run other EU-funded projects back home and helped prepare a grant-winning proposal for the LIFE project MICACC. She says that she was heartened to meet representatives from EU institutions in person.
“This is the first LIFE project that our ministry has ever coordinated, and the first LIFE climate project in our country,” she said. “After the kick off meeting, I feel that the EU is trying to be as supportive as they can.”
08 November 2017Some of the EU’s most ancient plants are being wiped out by concrete and pollution. A recent report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says that a fifth of all fern and lycopod species in the Europe are declining or threatened with extinction.
This is the first report to examine the extinction risk of all ferns and lycopods in Europe. More than 20 experts participated in its two-year study, which was partially funded by the European Commission as part of the LIFE European Red Lists project.
“It is difficult to overestimate the importance of these ancient plants,” said Dr Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director at the IUCN in Gland, Switzerland. “Protected areas, such as the Natura 2000 sites, must ensure better protection for these species, and their habitats must be restored.”
24 October 2017 Can nature protection be climate-friendly? Can climate-friendly nature protection create jobs and growth? How can EU countries achieve their commitments to halt climate change? LIFE IP-ZENAPA is a pioneering LIFE Integrated Project that is helping to answer all those vital questions. It is doing so by putting innovation into practice to cut greenhouse gas emissions in nature protection areas across Germany and parts of Luxembourg. The scope and scale of the project is enabling wind turbines, solar arrays, biogas, district heating, electric vehicles, energy-efficient lighting and other clean technologies to be deployed in nature parks and neighbouring towns and villages as never before. And these investments are expected to have benefits in terms of creating jobs, lowering the cost of lighting, transport and heating and enabling sustainable development of rural communities, as this new video from the LIFE Communications Team shows.
23 October 2017 LIFE projects are helping bring down the number of premature deaths linked to low air quality. Recent statistics from the European Environment Agency show that nearly 400 000 people died as a result of air pollution in Europe last year. Those numbers remain high, but they are falling.
In its latest report, the European Environmental Agency shows that the EU has reduced its emission of toxic gases and particulate matter. It states that most forms of air pollution have followed a downward trend in Europe for over a decade. This is partly due to the development of more efficient technology that allows cars and factories to run while burning less fuel. Still, not all regions have benefited equally from this technological progress. According to the report, air quality policies have proven instrumental in bringing about improvements.
23 October 2017 Civil society is helping climate negotiators thrash out plans to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. From 6-17 November, nearly 200 countries will meet at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn. Together they must figure out how to keep the temperature on Earth within two degrees of what it was before the industrial revolution. The scale of this challenge calls on new planning skills. As part of the LIFE-funded project MaxiMiseR, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is providing countries with tools to craft long-term strategies for reducing their carbon footprint.
The Paris Agreement in 2015 has clarified how little greenhouse gas world leaders, and the public that they represent, are still prepared to emit. But as countries scramble to clean up their act, policy makers must answer thorny questions on who will get to emit it, and who should pay for the damage that climate change is already causing. On 8 November, a side event at COP23 will introduce the insight of the MaxiMiseR project on the matter.
20 October 2017 Scrubbing Central Europe’s air clean of soot and preparing Danish utilities for the consequences of climate change are just two examples of LIFE-funded projects showcased in Brussels last week. The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety reviewed the first steps of six so-called Integrated Projects spearheading the programme. These overarching projects are pushing through cross-sectoral reforms to better protect nature, the environment and the climate. Their upstream work is helping implement EU policy, and streamline green-minded initiatives across the EU. Initial results show progress in tackling systemic challenges that smaller projects have lacked the critical mass to address in the past.
“Integrated Projects are able to implement environmental legislation on a wider scale,” said Nicola Caputo, MEP of the S & D Group. This increases the impact of the LIFE programme in more ways than one.
17 October 2017 Conservationists are learning to restore habitats by reintroducing species that once lived in them. These human-moulded environments present challenges to populate, but some interventions are already showing results. At a two-day platform meeting on the “Reintroduction of species: a tool for the restoration of habitats” in Meise, Belgium, scientists and NGOs working on EU-funded restoration projects swapped tips on how to jump-start healthy ecosystems.
“Conservation has shifted its focus from keeping nature wild to keeping it alive,” said Dr. Joachim Mergeay from the Research Institute for Nature and Forest in Brussels, Belgium. He explains that in recent decades, efforts to minimise the intervention of humans on the environment have given way to a more proactive approach, in which scientists focus on boosting biodiversity instead, often by micromanaging natural habitats.
11 October 2017 Hungarian authorities have revealed that local households throw away twice as much food as previously estimated. The trend raises environmental concerns when extrapolated to other countries in the region. Far from returning to the ground it comes from, waste food pollutes Europe's air, rivers and soils. As part of the LIFE-funded FOODWASTEPREV project, teachers and officials are now chalking up lesson plans to keep tomorrow's food on our plates and out of our bins.
Until recently, international studies have focused on the refuse produced by a handful of particularly wasteful countries. Consumers in Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany notoriously throw away more than their own weight in edible food each year. Based on GDP per capita, experts have long assumed that Central and Eastern European countries such as Hungary squander much less food.
06 October 2017 Over 180 bears have been run over in Slovenia since 2005. For centuries, hunting and urbanisation have driven the country's brown bears (Ursus arctos) near to extinction.
Now cars and trains kill one in seven of them. In attempts to safeguard Slovenia's drivers and wildlife alike, LIFE-funded conservationists are fencing off highways and installing ultrasonic noise emitters.
05 October 2017 Recent sightings of the European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) on a once rat-infested island demonstrate a LIFE project's success at restoring local habitats.
Since 2014, conservationists have been trying to protect some of Northwest Europe's most threatened seabirds on the Shiant Isles Natura 2000 network site in northern Scotland. The islands are home to more than 150 000 seabirds that breed there each year.
02 October 2017 This issue of LIFEnews welcomes new projects joining the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. Our lead article toasts the 139 projects launched this year, offering a glimpse into their objectives and the €222 million budget that they will share.
Our second article peaks into this month's 629 LIFE project proposals that expert panels will be reviewing until March 2018 to select next year's LIFE grant recipients. We also take a quick trip through Poland's skies, prior to the European Clean Air Forum in November, and a dip in Italy's recently scrubbed seas to prepare for the Our Ocean conference in October.
28 September 2017The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222 million from the EU budget to support Europe's transition to more sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action.
The EU funding will mobilise additional investments leading to a total of €377 million going towards 139 new projects in 20 Member States.
28 September 2017With the livelihood of three billion people at stake, world leaders are meeting in Malta next week to protect the seas on which jobs and food chains depend.
The two-day Our Ocean conference will bring together 50 heads of state and government ministers to address the mounting strains imposed on Earth’s oceans by overfishing, pollution and climate change. Two LIFE projects have been invited to share their know-how.
27 September 2017About a third of Europe's drinking water seeps away before it even reaches the consumer. Today, utility companies battling the loss have little access to the sort of smart technology that routinely flies planes, controls energy networks or assists delicate surgery. From January 2018, LIFE funds will help explore how remote-controlled motors for water valves can spot and contain distribution system leaks, in a project that could set new standards for water conservation.
26 September 2017Three LIFE-funded projects will take the stage this year at the European Clean Air Forum in Paris, France. The event brings together policy makers from across EU institutions, national governments and cities throughout Europe. Over two days, they will discuss with NGOs, academics, private companies and the general public how to reduce air pollution in the EU. As part of the event, the LIFE-funded projects Chimera, CLINSH and Małopolska Region will share their expertise in a session dedicated to business opportunities in the clean air sector.
22 September 2017An innovative LIFE project is working to protect the critically endangered northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) from illegal hunting during its annual migration this autumn. Led by the NGO Waldrappteam, the species reintroduction project LIFE Northern Bald Ibis - Reason for Hope is focusing efforts on the prevention of illegal hunting, collection of evidence and (when necessary) prosecution of poachers.
21 September 2017The European Commission has received 629 proposals for environment and climate protection projects by the LIFE programme's deadlines in September 2017. Applicants come from all 28 EU Member States and request more than €1 billion in EU funding – four times the available budget (which is some €254 million).
19 September 2017Agriculture and forestry have great potential to help the EU meet its ambitious climate goals. Peter Wehrheim from the European Commission’s Climate Action directorate-general calls LIFE a “field laboratory” for developing and testing new methods and knowledge.
His colleague Simon Kay also emphasises the programme’s importance in this in-depth interview.
Integrating forestry and agriculture into EU climate policy is a challenge. A new Regulation, put forward in 2016 by the European Commission, however, is set to fully include the land use sector in EU Climate Action policy from 2021. The proposed legislation establishes common rules on how to incorporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) into the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework.
15 September 2017The call for application for the 2018 Natura 2000 Awards, which honours leading nature conservation achievements, is open until 15 October 2017. Hurry up and send your application, and get the recognition you deserve!
As you know the Natura 2000 Award is dedicated to rewarding excellence in the management and promotion of the network and to raising awareness of Natura 2000 and its benefits to European citizens. It also contributes to the fourth priority area of the Commission’s recently adopted Action Plan to improve the protection of nature and biodiversity in the EU, for the benefit of its citizens and the economy.
12 September 2017To mark EU Mobility Week, we visited Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands), one of the partners in U-MOB LIFE, a project that is promoting sustainable mobility on university campuses through a new knowledge-exchange network.
Sustainable mobility policies have typically been oriented to what cities can do, with some more recent attention on practices that private enterprises can introduce for their employees. However, universities are significant traffic generators in the towns and cities where they are located - large numbers of students, employees and visitors travel to, from and within campuses every day.
“Mobility can account for up to 50-60% of the carbon footprint of the whole university,” says Dr Giuliano Mingardo of Erasmus University Rotterdam. “We want to be one of the most sustainable universities in the Netherlands. So, if we can make a difference on mobility, the impact can be very large.”
12 September 2017The latest and most replicable wastewater treatment solutions developed by the LIFE programme will be showcased at a side event at 2 pm on 26 September of the 2017 conference of the European Innovation Partnership on Water.
The conference is taking place at the Porto Congress Centre, Portugal.
The event, 'The LIFE programme: funding opportunities & innovative solutions on wastewater treatment', will include presentations on the programme's topics within the water sector for the following years, as well as a slot on LIFE funding opportunities and the future call for projects.
This European COST Action (2013-2017) event in Limoges (France) brought together diverse groups to exchange knowledge, and develop innovative management and utilisation concepts and techniques, for modern multifunctional coppice management systems. Over sixty people attended the conference, which successfully wrapped up the COST Action activities.
The LIFE project shared with attendees the contribution it has made to the future of coppicing as a sustainable forestry practice in Europe. Project manager Andrea Cutini, of CREA-FL (Italy) was among the invited speakers to a special panel discussion held during the conference.
07 September 2017An Italian LIFE project has trained a dog to nose around hollow trees in the hunt for hermit beetles. The clever mutt named Teseo uses its great sense of smell to detect the odorous larvae of this protected insect.
The hermit beetle (Osmoderma eremita) is the focus of the MIPP project, which developed this non-invasive way of monitoring its numbers. With this method, the project team can keep track of the conservation status of the dead wood-loving beetle. Using man's best friend saves time and doesn't damage habitats or interfere with the insects.
Several dog breeds were considered for the task, but the project team opted for a golden retriever.
06 September 2017The GreenYourMove (GYM) LIFE project's platform for calculating emissions is up and running. The platform consists of a new method for selecting the best routes from an environmental point of view for getting to your destination using all types of transport.
This research project is bringing together six partners from across Europe (Greece, Czech Republic and the Netherlands) under the coordination of the University of Thessaly. The online platform is part of its plan to develop navigational applications that are suitable for PCs, tablets and mobile phones. The main aim is to reduce Europe's carbon footprint.
An early version of the navigator was presented to Greek public transportation operators in April of last year ahead of the completion of the database of the platform.
29 August 2017The LIFE Forests-waterworlds - Ville Forests project is demonstrating an innovative tool – known as a marteloscope – to support sustainable forest management. A key project aim is to conserve oak-hornbeam forests on poorly-drained soils in four Natura 2000 network sites in western Germany. The marteloscope provides forest managers with the information, training and experience they need to incorporate biodiversity conservation objectives into timber production activities.
A marteloscope is a designated area of the forest in which tree measurements are linked to provide a framework for in-forest training in marking and selection. In July 2017, the LIFE project team established, in collaboration with the European Forest Institute (EFI Bonn), a 1 ha demonstration area. In this area, all trees are mapped and evaluated regarding economic and ecological value. This enables forest managers and conservationists to perform virtual tree selection exercises under real conditions, and to discuss the results directly in the field.
28 August 2017The LIFE project to restore alvar grasslands in Estonia is already bearing fruit: just a few years into the Life to alvars project and large blooms of orchids are a visible sign of recovery of this threatened semi-natural grassland habitat.
Alvar grasslands are semi-natural grasslands with thin lime-rich soil on limestone bedrock. The project is restoring 25 alvar grasslands sites in Estonia totalling 2 500 hectares: two are found on the mainland and the rest spread over the islands of Muhu, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa in the Baltic Sea.
The areas had become overgrown with junipers and pine trees, as a result of lack of grazing and plantations. "I think we have created the landscape that was here about 40 years ago,” said Annely Esko, project leader from the Environmental Board of Estonia.
25 August 2017The LIFE community is saddened to learn of the death of Alberto Baldazzi, earlier this month. Mr Baldazzi oversaw LIFE projects during the early years of the LIFE programme. Most notably, he was the creator of the LIFE logo, which is still used by every LIFE project to this day.
After leaving the European Commission, he continued to be closely involved in environmental matters, working as a consultant in sustainable development and clean technology and pursuing an interest in ethical hunting.
The LIFE community has lost a good friend, a trusted colleague and an ambassador of LIFE. The LIFE logo will remind us of his sense of humour and optimism, his commitment and his humanity.
16 August 2017“Integrated projects are different from traditional LIFE projects in size, duration, mechanism and ambition,” says Angelo Salsi, Head of Unit, LIFE and Eco-Innovation, EASME.
In this short video, Mr Salsi explains why a LIFE Integrated Project is like building a house: “They require a plan, financial resources, commitment and a lot of time.”
“The hope is that every part of Europe will have the possibility to test this new feature of the LIFE programme, so that we can demonstrate at the end of the day that coordinated effort can lead to the implementation of ambitious strategies in environment and climate.”
If you're working on a proposal for a new Integrated Project, the closing date for the 2017 LIFE call is fast approaching. Remember to submit your concept note by 4pm (Brussels time) on Tuesday 26 September.
For more information, visit the LIFE programme funding page.
11 August 2017 The EU LIFE programme is hosting a waste workshop in Sardinia, Italy, highlighting LIFE funding opportunities and latest advances in Europe in waste management solutions.
The workshop takes place at one of the largest gatherings on waste management science and technologies in Europe.
It will showcase a selection of the latest and most practical solutions (for others to adopt) supported by the LIFE programme in waste management. It will include presentations on ongoing projects in this sector, as well a slot on LIFE funding opportunities and the future call for projects.
09 August 2017Conservation measures, including those carried out under two LIFE projects, have had a beneficial impact on moorland in the Peak District and South Pennines, according to new monitoring and research undertaken by the LIFE projects, Moors for the Future Partnership and the University of Manchester.
The research, which assessed data going back 12 years, shows that by re-introducing native plants and sphagnum moss, the MoorLIFE project and the follow-up MoorLIFE2020 project among other initiatives, have successfully put the moors on an active recovery path to a healthy state.
The conservation efforts have increased the number of different plant species living on the moors in order to support animal life and moorland birds, while at the same time raising the water table to make the soil less peaty and vulnerable to wildfire. Increased vegetation also has the benefit of slowing down run-off after heavy rainfalls.
07 August 2017The PIROSLIFE project has released new images of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in the Pyrenees. At the end of June, a female and two cubs were filmed by the PIROSLIFE monitoring team in the forests of the L'Alt Pirineu Natural Park in Catalonia (Spain). These youngsters are the offspring of brown bears released in the Pyrenees to re-introduce the animals to this region. The video shows the cubs climbing a tree trunk, and even descending it head first, behaviour more typical of squirrels that has not been observed previously in the Pyrenees.
Native brown bears in the Central Pyrenees became extinct by 1990. Since 1996, the LIFE programme has funded a series of projects aimed at re-introducing them; including releases of individuals of the same genetic strain from Slovenia. While the initial effort made regarding the bears coexistence with humans was insufficient, provoking a conflict with the local population that lasts until today...
04 August 2017On 31 May 2017, the LIFE+ small scale CHP project team inaugurated the ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) unit at the district heating plant of Bräkne-Hoby in south east Sweden.
It was the first ORC unit to be installed in a district heating plant in Sweden. The unit will enable the operating company, Ronneby Environment & Technology, to produce renewable heat for surrounding households and to send locally-produced power to the electric grid.
The LIFE project is demonstrating new and yet-to-be-commercialised techniques, including ORC, for small-scale biomass CHP (Combined Heat and Power).
02 August 2017How do you reconcile the many interests that affect the use and development of a river? A recent LIFE platform meeting in the German city of Koblenz had some answers.
The 'one river, many interests' event was hosted by the LIFE Integrated Project, Living River Lahn and the Federal Institute of Hydrology. Its goal was to bring together relevant LIFE projects and other stakeholders to explore the impact of different uses of rivers, with a particular focus on river restoration.
The first of three workshops at the meeting set out to enable projects to exchange experiences on handling the conflicting interests that can have an impact on river restoration. New challenges for waterways include climate change, ageing infrastructure, new legislation, and new means of engaging stakeholders. Identifying the biggest challenge was not easy, with the group highlighting a range of issues, including the need to communicate better and to include nature restoration in infrastructure planning. Finding the space to restore rivers is another key challenge.
01 August 2017Are you a company that offers sustainable products or services that is looking to expand? An organisation that supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)? A regional authority?
If so, why not get involved in a new project from the European Commission that aims to kick start the circular economy among Europe's SMEs?
The project is open to the following:
- SME support organisations that would like to receive training on the circular economy
- Circular solution providers (companies which offer sustainable products and/or services) that would like to expand
- Regional authorities that would like to receive policy advice on how to support SMEs in adopting circular solutions
Expressions of interest must be submitted by Monday 18 September 2017 by filling in the digital application located at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/funding/circular-economy-smes/
Any questions? Contact: ENV-PILOT-PROJECT@ec.europa.eu
31 July 2017LIFE projects help advance cities' leading role in taking concrete actions to tackle climate change. That was one of the conclusions of the recent LIFE platform meeting on climate action in urban areas, which took place in Barcelona.
One example comes from the insurance industry, where the Italian project LIFE DERRIS is helping municipalities and smaller businesses to become better able to cope with climate change.
The project is led by the insurance company, Unipol. Marjorie Breyton of Unipol: “We know that almost 7 million Italians are exposed to risks. More than 80% of municipalities are in areas with risks, and in more than 50% of cases industrial districts are in areas at risk.”
“When extreme weather events occur, the main costs are borne by the state. Some studies have shown that in the last 50 years it cost almost 3 billion euros a year to the Italian state. This is a situation that is not sustainable in the coming years.”
28 July 2017How can we ensure that our water sources are clean and secure? What are the most sustainable ways of treating wastewater? How can we reduce the multiple environmental and socioeconomic impacts of wastewater management? What are the most innovative technologies to valorise sewage by-products?
These questions and many others in the area wastewater management will be addressed at the LIFE sided event, 'The LIFE programme: funding opportunities & innovative solutions on wastewater treatment'.
The event is being organised in the framework of the 2017 conference of the European Innovation Partnership on Water. It will take place on 26 September at 2pm in Porto, Portugal.
27 July 2017A recent LIFE platform meeting in Barcelona on urban climate action gave 33 participating LIFE projects a great networking opportunity and produced important lessons relating to policy, stakeholder engagement and project replicability.
Projects and other expert delegates were split into four working groups, covering the following topics:
18 July 2017The LIFE project, WASP Tool (LIFE10 ENV/GR/000622) has now made its waste prevention support tool for local authorities available in English, as well as Greek. The free web-based decision support system, dubbed WASP-Tool, was developed by the Harokopio University of Athens and partners to enable local authorities to select and implement optimal waste prevention programmes. It was tested by local authorities in Crete and Cyprus during the project, which ran from 2011 to 2014.
The tool aggregates data on waste volume and composition (biowaste, paper, plastic, metal and glass), priorities for municipal waste processing, a set of environmental, financial and social indicators, and the demographic characteristics of an area.
18 July 2017A regional platform meeting for LIFE projects from Ireland and the UK has given new insight into managing project risks. The meeting, which took place in Cambridge on 8 June 2017, was hosted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and attended by representatives of all current LIFE projects in the two countries, as well as national authorities, including DEFRA, JNCC and Natural England (UK) and DCCAE (Ireland), and staff from the LIFE Unit of the European Commission.
The projects QUARTERBACK for LIFE (LIFE13 ENV/UK/000401), EcoCo LIFE Scotland (LIFE13 BIO/UK/000428), and ‘Unlocking the Severn’ (LIFE-Shad Severn - LIFE15 NAT/UK/000219) shared experiences and gave presentations on assessing risk consistently, managing and updating risk registers and assessing financial risks.
13 July 2017The LIFE-OPTIMAL2012 project (LIFE12 ENV/IT/000671) has officially inaugurated Biogas Wipptal, a pioneering plant in the South Tyrol region of Italy that converts livestock waste into renewable energy and a natural fertiliser.
The biogas plant, which is located in Val di Vizze, takes manure and slurry from 62 livestock farmers in the High Valley of Isarco. Since becoming operational one year ago, Biogas Wipptal has converted over 30 000 tonnes of livestock waste into 4 million kilowatts of renewable electricity and an identical amount of thermal energy, which is used to dry the digestate.
11 July 2017The LIFE project Return of the Neophron (LIFE 10 NAT/BG/000152) has published a Flyway Action Plan for the Conservation of the Balkan and Central Asian Populations of the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus (EVFAP).
This LIFE project initiative makes a significant contribution to the implementation of the international Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU) under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). The plan will be an important catalyst for future conservation of the species beyond the EU, something that will directly benefit breeding populations of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Europe.
6 July 2017The Celtic Seas Partnership LIFE project (LIFE11/ENV/UK/392) has launched an Information Portal for the Celtic Seas. The portal enables users to find relevant data and information about the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which seeks to more effectively protect the marine environment across Europe.
The Celtic Seas is one of the designated MSFD regions and includes parts of the open Atlantic west of Ireland and Scotland, shallow seas surrounded by land in the Irish Sea and west of Scotland, numerous sea lochs and large estuaries such as the Shannon, Severn and Solway Firth.
4 July 2017The LIFE ConRasi project (LIFE14 NAT/IT/001017) made the news recently when a team of Italian and Spanish ornithologists working in in Sicily attached GPS transmitters to eight young eagles to monitor them and help put an end to poaching.
In articles published on 17 June, the national newspapers La Repubblica and Il Corriere della Sera applauded the work of the LIFE ConRasi project describing it as, “the most effective safeguard operation of the wonderful predator,” the Bonelli eagle (Aquila fasciata). Extinct across mainland Italy, the Bonelli eagle only survives in Sicily.
03 July 2017The LIFE project Waldrappteam (LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143) has welcomed the recent condemnation of a hunter for the killing of one of the most endangered bird species worldwide, the northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita).
In October 2012, two the northern bald ibises, named Goja and Jedi, were shot by an Italian bird hunter just 80 km from their wintering site in the province of Livorno (Italy). The hunter was condemned but appealed. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the condemnation should be upheld, a decision that is setting a unique and significant precedent in the fight against illegal bird hunting in Italy.
The Austrian Waldrappteam project, which is reintroducing a migratory population of this ibis species into Europe after it became extinct in the continent 400 years ago, welcomed the news.
30 June 2017This issue of LIFEnews focuses on a LIFE platform meeting dedicated to ecosystem services and how to incorporate them into decision-making. These services are defined as the benefits provided to humanity by ecosystems.
The first article gives an overview of the event and the importance of ecosystem services, with contributions from the Estonian environment minister and DG Environment's Policy Officer for Biodiversity. The second article looks at the experiences of LIFE projects with defining/mapping and assessing ecosystem services, and applying the concept in decision-making.
29 June 2017The LIFE programme was a winner in the Andalusian Environment Awards 2017, an initiative organised by the regional government of Andalusia in Spain.
The awards recognise the work of individuals or organisations in dissemination and diffusion of environmental values in the region. LIFE received the award in the ‘natural values’ category, which focuses on those organisations designing and implementing projects on nature conservation and the reduction of human impacts on the environment.
The LIFE programme is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Since the outset, LIFE has played a key role in the protection of Andalusia's environment. The programme has invested €157 million euros in 38 projects in the region.
The award was received by Ms. Dorte Pardo López, from DG Environment, on behalf of the European Commission.
27 June 2017The MoorLIFE2020 (LIFE14 NAT/UK/000070) project will give people a virtual moor experience later this year, when it tours its ‘Bogstatic Van’ through the towns of the English Peak District and South Pennines, later this year.
The LIFE project is protecting active blanket bog habitat within the South Pennine Moors’ Natura 2000 network site through a series of conservation actions, thereby also maintaining valuable ecosystem services. In tandem, the project is inspiring people from all walks of life to value and help protect the upland moors.
People entering the mobile ‘moor in a van’ exhibition can experience the sights, sounds and even the smells associated with peat bogs, without getting their boots wet!
22 June 2017Public-private partnerships could be the answer to the lack of funding for the protection and management of Natura 2000 network sites, according to a recent conference organised by the LIFE Stymfalia project (LIFE12 NAT/GR/000275).
The objective of the conference Business and Biodiversity in Natura 2000 sites: the way forward which took place in Athens and Stymfalia on 9-10 June 2017 was to present the linkages between business and biodiversity and promote innovative and good management practices in wetlands.
“The stimulation of the private sector to generate funding opportunities for the protection of Natura 2000 sites is the European Union's policy that we are implementing for the first time in Greece through the LIFE-Stymfalia project."
14 June 2017Kaja has given birth! The four-year-old lynx (Lynx lynx carpathicus), who was one of the first three individuals to be reintroduced to the Palatinate Forest under the German LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald project (LIFE13 NAT/DE/000755), has produced a litter of two. The births are the first reproductions to have occurred in the biosphere reserve since the 18th century.
The parents, Kaja and Lucky, were reintroduced from Slovakia around a year ago. Having fitted the lynx with GPS collars, the beneficiary, the Rheinland-Pfalz Nature and Environment Foundation (Stiftung Natur und Umwelt Rheinland-Pfalz), was able to follow the pair’s progress.
They noted an encounter between the two on 17-20 February during a favourable mating time. The gestation period for a lynx is 72 days.
13 June 2017A workshop on climate action in agriculture and forestry was held by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME) in Brussels on 1 June 2017.
The meeting emphasised the need for the agriculture and forestry sectors to take greater action to meet the EU's climate goals, including those under the Paris Agreement and the 2030 climate and energy framework. It also highlighted some innovative approaches to climate action, illustrated by a number of LIFE and Horizon 2020 projects, and how they can help farmers and foresters take up climate-smart production methods.
Miguel Sagredo-Fernandez, a senior member of the cabinet of Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, opened the workshop. He told attendees, "successful LIFE and Horizon 2020 projects are great examples of how climate policies translate into research and action on the ground."
09 June 2017The 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.
06 June 2017This edition of LIFEnews celebrates the 25th anniversary of the LIFE programme.
The first article looks at the new European Natura 2000 Day and some events held across the EU to celebrate LIFE's anniversary.
The second article focuses on the Green Awards in Brussels which honoured some outstanding LIFE projects from the programme's 25-year history.
07 June 2017The LIFE project Dyemond Solar (LIFE09 ENV/SE/000355) won an award in the Climate Action category at the Green Awards in Brussels. The awards were held to celebrate the most outstanding LIFE projects carried out since 1992 and are one of the highlights of the LIFE programme’s 25th anniversary celebrations.
The LIFE project, which was carried out by Exeger Sweden AB, demonstrated the feasibility of scaling-up screen printing for the manufacture of Dye-Sensitised Solar Cells (DSC). It built a pilot line that lay the ground work for the design and construction of the world’s largest DSC factory.
02 June 2017The latest LIFE platform meeting took place on 10-12 May 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia. The theme was ecosystem services and the discussion focused on how to get the concept into practical decision-making. The event was hosted by the Baltic Environmental Forum under the auspices of LIFE Viva Grass (LIFE13 ENV/LT/000189), a project to improve land use and conservation policies for the long-term maintenance of grassland biodiversity and the ecosystem services that grasslands provide.
Over 100 people from 16 Member States attended the meeting, including policymakers, academics and representatives from 50 LIFE projects. The meeting showcased a variety of restoration techniques, innovative approaches to improving knowledge and understanding of ecosystem services, new management initiatives and governance challenges.
31 May 2017Outstanding LIFE projects from the programme's 25-year history were celebrated at the Green Awards ceremony in Brussels on 30 May. A special edition of the annual LIFE awards, the Green Awards singled out projects that have had remarkable effects on the EU's natural environment and in creating green jobs and boosting green growth over the past quarter century.
Taking place during EU Green Week, the packed ceremony was attended by people from across the EU, with representatives from local authorities, government agencies, educational institutions, students, private companies, NGOs and volunteers.