21 March 2018 The University of Santiago de Compostella in Spain has constructed a 24-meter long timber rooftop whose innovative design could help cut greenhouse gas emissions from the construction sector and spread environmentally sustainable forestry practices.
The so-called Gridshell rooftop that now houses a storage facility at the PEMADE Laboratory of Timber Engineering of the University of Santiago de Compostela is made of reprocessed wood from pine, chestnut and eucalyptus trees grown in the surrounding province of Lugo.
20 March 2018 The European Commission has announced the twenty-six finalists for this year’s Natura 2000 Awards. The prize recognises excellence in managing Natura 2000 network sites and in conveying their added value to the public. The entries include 17 finalists supported by LIFE-funded projects.
You can now join thousands of Europeans online in electing your favourite conservation effort and deciding who will bring home the European Natura 2000 Citizens’ Award. Voting remains open until 22 April 2018.
19 March 2018 With support from the LIFE programme, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is investing €15 million in protecting Croatia’s biodiversity and fortifying the country against climate change.
The EIB has provided a loan to Croatia’s public development bank HBOR to conserve Croatian ecosystems and prepare communities for global warming through bankable investments in ecosystems. Projects to be financed include green infrastructure or payment for ecosystem services.
13 March 2018 Details are taking shape for the LIFE programme's 2018 Calls for Proposals. A provisional calendar for the call for proposals publication is now available online. Please note that schedules are currently indicative and that more information will be made public closer to the publication date for each call.
This year, calls under sub-programmes for Environment and Climate Action will cover action grants for "Traditional" projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects and Preparatory projects. An additional call for proposals will be published for operating grants to finance Specific Grant Agreements (SGAs) with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
13 March 2018 Representatives from LIFE projects are converging on Madrid, Spain, on 13-14 March to discuss the impact of rising temperatures on agriculture and forestry in the Mediterranean.
The two-day platform meeting will draw on additional expertise from EU policy makers, local authorities and stakeholders in the agro-forest sector to tackle the impacts of climate change in an area notoriously exposed to its effects.
8 March 2018 New tree plantations could boost wood production while caring for nature and the climate. Following 20 years of planting mainly poplar monocultures in rural Italy, land owners in Verona are now testing an innovative way of growing mixed tree farms to boost their sustainability and harness valuable ecosystem services.
6 March 2018 Birds and visitors are flocking back to the largest raised bog in Denmark now that its once dry lake is refilling with water. The restored lake plays a vital role in this wetland habitat. Its shallow flooding is nursing Lille Vildmose back towards a healthier ecosystem.
In December last year, the LIFE project Lille Vildmose reached a milestone in its restoration work by plugging a centuries-old leak in Lake Birkesø, located in Lille Vildmose, Denmark. Conservationists blocked an agricultural canal that previously evacuated water out of the lake and into the sea.
1 March 2018 LIFE projects to conserve the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) are moving beyond its breeding grounds in the Balkans to take action along the whole migratory flyway of the species. This is also building local conservation capacity and leading to new knowledge and awareness of this highly-prized species.
Paschalis was a juvenile Egyptian vulture hatched in 2013 in Dadia, Greece and tagged with a satellite transmitter as part of the LIFE project The Return of the Neophron. He was the only one of 10 such juveniles to successfully migrate to wintering grounds in southern Niger.
27 February 2018 By mid-March, the EU will decide whether to fine nine of its members for breaching limits on air pollution. As it considers legal action, LIFE projects present potential solutions that could help countries clean up their act.
Meeting this month at the 21st European Forum on Eco-innovation in Sofia, Bulgaria, funding beneficiaries from nine LIFE projects exchanged advice on how to cut toxic emissions from the transport and the energy sector.
26 February 2018 The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is inviting Natura 2000 site managers to field-test the Green List Sustainability Standard. This new standard will recognise areas that conserve nature, provide ecosystem services, and safeguard key social, economic, cultural and spiritual values. To make the cut, sites will also have to be equitably governed and effectively managed.
22 February 2018 The second annual EU Industry Day on 22-23 February will bring hundreds of industry experts to Brussels for an update on the EU's strategy towards industrial competitiveness and manufacturing in Europe.
Speakers include no fewer than three European Commissioners, two European Commission Vice-Presidents, and the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.
19 February 2018 This month, school students from Terni, in Italy, are teaming up with academics and local officials to tackle environmental threats in everyday surroundings. Their collaboration notably addresses health risks arising from air pollution and ambient noise.
As part of the LIFE-funded project Gioconda, 170 pupils met with researchers from Italy's National Research Council (CNR), and representatives from Umbria's Regional Environmental Protection Agency, their local health agency and the municipality.
14 February 2018 The project submission procedure for the 2018 call under LIFE’s Environment sub-programme will undergo changes for simplicity. Applications will be submitted in two stages.
The first stage is a concept note, approximately 10 pages long. Applicants that make it through to the second stage of LIFE’s Environment sub-programme will then submit their full proposal based on feedback from the LIFE programme. For the LIFE Climate Action sub-programme, the submission procedure remains unchanged. Applicants will submit full proposals from the start.
14 February 2018 In 2018, projects applying for funding under LIFE's sub-programme for environment will, for the first time, submit proposals through a two-phase selection procedure.
The move is designed to simplify administrative steps and save applicants time. It is one among many updates set out to streamline the LIFE programme in its new Multiannual Work Programme (MAWP) running from 2018 to 2020.
Meeting in Brussels on 22 November 2017, representatives from EU countries unanimously declared their support for the LIFE Programme, and gave the green light to its new work programme for 2018-2020.
9 February 2018 The municipality of Benicàssim, on the eastern coast of Spain, is pioneering a sustainable urban drainage system to evacuate torrential rain water from its town centre. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency with which heavy rainfall floods the streets of Mediterranean towns.
As part of the LIFE CERSUDS project, the project consortium has been working on a new kind of drainage system that allows water to seep through the ground, rather than build up on the tarmac.
8 February 2018 The European Commission has approved an investment package of €98.2 million to support Europe's transition to a low-carbon, circular economy under the new LIFE funding programme for the Environment and Climate Action.
Today's investment package will contribute towards improving the quality of life for European citizens in five areas: Nature, Water, Air, Waste and Climate Action. The investment covers 10 projects in Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Spain and Sweden.
7 February 2018 The EU has increased LIFE funding dedicated to nature conservation and biodiversity by 10%. New EU rules adopted on 16 November 2017 specify that at least 60.5% of the budget allocated to LIFE’s sub-programme for environment will now go towards protecting Europe’s natural capital.
The increase was implemented through a Delegated Regulation, which was consulted with the Members States and then successfully passed the scrutiny of the European Parliament and the Council. It was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 18 January 2018.
5 February 2018 The European Parliament promoted action on climate change mitigation by inviting experts from across Europe to discuss the challenges and opportunities of sustainable forest management with Members of the European Parliament.
The meeting was hosted by representatives from the Spanish region of Murcia, which is carrying out a LIFE project on techniques that could help forests mitigate climate change.
The main challenge addressed by the LIFE FOREST CO2 project is to formulate a common methodology to keep track of greenhouse gas emissions and removals in Europe's farms and forests.
1 February 2018 The LIFE MERMAIDS project has found a natural polymer that fixes synthetic fibres in place, reducing by up to 80% the number of microplastics released when washing clothes.
According to research conducted by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the LEITAT technological centre in Spain, a typical 5 kilogramme load of polyester clothing can release millions of microfibres.
31January 2018 Hundreds gathered this week at the first Natura 2000 summit in Munich, Germany, to discuss the social benefits of nature conservation.
The summit, organised by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection and the LIFE living Natura 2000 project, focused on the merits of the Natura 2000 network for Europe’s natural heritage and its society.
26 January 2018 A state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is helping the MoorLIFE 2020 project track improvements from conservation work across the vast open moorlands of the Peak District and South Pennines in the UK.
The Moors for the Future Partnership conducted the first flight of the innovative UAV towards the end of last year, providing a bird’s eye view of the moors. The craft carries specialist earth observation equipment on-board, including cameras that capture thermal images.
24 January 2018 The European Commission has released its new Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy. The strategy builds on prior EU efforts to deal with plastic waste in the environment. It notably states that, by 2030, all plastic packaging in the EU must be reusable or easily recyclable.
At present, the EU sends almost a third of the plastic that it uses straight to landfills and another 40% to incineration. This is damaging the environment and wastes costly resources.
“Some 95% of the value of plastic packaging worth up to €105 billion is lost to the economy every year,” said European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. “And we still only recycle 30% of our plastic waste in Europe.”
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.