Brussels, 19 October 2006
LIFE-Nature 2006: Commission funds 61 nature conservation projects in 20 countries with over €70 million
The European Commission has approved funding for 61 nature conservation projects, situated in 20 Member States under the LIFE-Nature programme 2006. The projects will restore protected nature areas and their fauna and flora, establish sustainable management structures and strengthen public awareness and co-operation with stakeholders. They will thus further contribute to the protection of biodiversity in Europe - and more particularly improve the EU-wide Natura 2000 network of protected sites. The selected projects are situated in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. They represent a total investment of €141.6 million, of which the EU will cover €70.1 million.
The Commission received 228 proposals for LIFE Nature funding from partnerships of conservation bodies, government authorities, NGOs and other parties. Sixteen of the 61 selected projects involve two or more countries.
Most projects aim at restoring Natura 2000 sites or networks of sites, designing and implementing management plans, improving watercourses, laying the foundation for long-term site management and eliminating invasive species. A number of projects are aimed at improving the conservation status of particularly threatened wildlife species.
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of special areas of conservation and protection. It was set up under the EU Habitats Directive and incorporates sites identified under the Birds Directive. Altogether, it comprises more than 20,000 sites and covers close to 20% of EU territory. Natura 2000 is the cornerstone of the EU policy to protect Europe’s biodiversity.
The LIFE programme
LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU, as well as in some candidate, acceding and neighbouring countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 2,750 projects, contributing approximately €1.35 billion to the protection of the environment.
LIFE-Nature specifically contributes to the implementation of the Habitats and Birds directives and, in particular, the Natura 2000 European network. The two other components of this programme, LIFE-Environment and LIFE-Third Countries, focus respectively on demonstrating innovative environmental techniques and on environmental capacity building in countries bordering the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. For projects approved under LIFE-Nature and LIFE-Third Countries, see press releases IP/06/1429 and IP/06/1430
The current LIFE III programme finishes at the end of 2006. Thereafter a new programme, "LIFE+”, will run from 2007-2013 with a budget of approximately €2.1 billion. The LIFE+ proposal is currently undergoing its second reading in the European Parliament.
See the annex below for a summary of the new LIFE-Nature projects. More information on each project is available at:
More about the Natura 2000 network can be found at:
Overview of 2006 LIFE-Nature projects by country
Austria – 3 projects – LIFE maximum funding 2.4 M€
The first project aims to improve the conservation status of the open dry grasslands of Bisamberg, near Vienna. The project foresees the conservation and restoration of the semi-natural dry and steppic grasslands, and Pannonic white-oak woods. The main species to be addressed are the Red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio), the woodlark (Lullula arborea), and the Barred warbler (Sylvia nisoria), and also the European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus).
A second project, in a Natura 2000 site near Salzburg, aims to improve the conservation status of fen meadows associated habitats and typical endangered butterflies species such as the scarce (Euphydryas maturna) and the marsh (Euphydryas aurinia) fritillaries. The main actions involved are the maintenance of fen meadows, the development of structured forest edges and the scrub clearance in fen meadows.
The third project follows on from an earlier, successful LIFE-Nature project: "Restoration of the wetland and riparian area at the Upper Drau River”, which terminated in 2003. The new project aims to revitalise and restore the natural riverine habitats (e.g., the Alnus incana alluvial forests) along a 69 km river section. The project also foresees the exchange of cross-border experiences and cooperation with Croatia and Hungary.
Belgium – 7 projects - LIFE maximum funding 10.0 M€
The first Belgium project aims to restore the natural habitats (notably sand dune and dune-heath vegetation on inland continental dunes and the oligotrophic to mesotrophic ponds) from the lowland Averbode Bos en Heide in Flanders.
The second project’s main objectives are the protection, recovery and development of several habitat types (including river forest habitats and inland dunes) and their related species in the "Stropers" Natura 2000 site. The hydrological actions proposed will result in the expansion of priority habitat type of mesotrophic alder swamp forest.
The third project results from the cooperation between an NGO and two public bodies with the objective of a large-scale natural habitat restoration of the Turnhouts Vennengebied, in particular of Nardus grasslands and dry sand heathland and dunes.
The fourth project is a cross-border venture aimed at the restoration and conservation of the heathland and continental dunes landscape in the ‘De Zoom Kalmthoutse Heide’ park, which extends across the Dutch-Belgian border.
The main goal of the fifth project is the restoration and conservation of natural habitats of the costal dunes and salt marshes of the Zwindunes area on the Belgian coast.
The sixth and largest Belgian project this year is located on the Hautes-Fagnes Plateau in the Ardennes. Actions include restoring 1400 ha of peaty and wet habitats, abandoning spruce plantation for natural habitats on 630 ha and regenerating 400 ha of oak and birch forests.
The seventh project aims to achieve a substantial increase in the numbers of bats in Flanders, in particular of the Pond bat (Myotis dasycneme), the Notch-eared bat (Myotis emarginatus) and Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii).
Czech Republic – 1 project - LIFE maximum funding 0.70 M€
The project aims to restore and preserve eight river habitats of the Morávka river Basin at two proposed SCIs (Sites of Community Interest) of the Moravian part of the Czech Republic. The main threat is from the invasive Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria spp.) and the project seeks to elaborate an efficient methodology for its suppression.
Denmark – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 3.1 M€
The first project aims to maintain and restore to a favourable conservation status the habitat of two endangered meadow birds, the dunlin (Calidris alpina schinzii) and the ruff (Philomachus pugnax), at four key sites. This will be done by restoring hydrology, by clearing trees, scrubs and reeds, and by ensuring an appropriate grazing regime.
The main goal of the second project is to maintain and restore to a favourable conservation status the offshore reef habitat at Læsø Trindel and Tønneberg Banke in the Kattegat bay.
Finland – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 2.6 M€
The first project aims to improve the conservation status of aapa mires and their associated rich avifauna at three Natura 2000 sites in Pelkosenniemi in Lapland (Kemihaaran suot, Luiron suot and Pyhä-Luosto).
The second project aims to improve the conservation status of wetland, meadow and forest habitats and their endangered avifauna at eight Natura 2000 sites along the Kokemäenjoki-river in Southwest Finland.
France – 5 projects - LIFE maximum funding 2.6 M€
The first project aims to conserve two endangered and endemic plant species in the Seine valley in Haute-Normandie. The distribution of the Violet of Rouen (Viola hispida) and the Biscutelle of Neustrie (Biscutella neustriaca) is restricted to just 130 ha in two Natura 2000 sites and the populations are threatened by extinction.
The second project focuses on the protection and management of endangered habitats and species in the forests of Basse Lauter and the Vosges moyennes.
The third project focuses on the conservation and habitat restoration of the French populations of the endangered Orsini's viper (Vipera ursinii). An expert European network (including France, Greece, Hungary and Romania) will also be developed.
The fourth project aims at the conservation management of 2500 ha of dune landscape between Gâvres and Quiberon in Brittany, including 1000 ha of the priority grey dunes habitat.
The fifth project targets the conservation and restoration of areas in the Rochefort marshes on the Atlantic coast. Actions include the hydraulic and ecological management of 225 ha of wet meadows and the purchase for conservation of 15 ha of wet woodland.
Germany – 4 projects - LIFE maximum funding 5.3 M€
The first project aims to develop and optimise the grasslands, active bog woodlands, and river forest habitats, in particular the priority habitat-types, of the Black forest area of the Rohrhardsberg region. The project also plans to develop viable populations of species such as the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and the hazel grouse (Bonasa bonasia).
The second project targets the re-introduction of the endangered fish species allis shad (Alosa alosa) into the Rhine system (Netherlands, Germany and France).
The third project is located in three Special Protection Areas (under the EU’s Birds Directive) that are part of one of the largest open fens in southern Central Europe, the Donauried. The project aims to improve the conservation status of typical bird species such as the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), the white stork (Ciconia ciconia), the corncrake (Crex crex) and the spotted crake (Porzana porzana).
The fourth project is a cooperation initiative between Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany targeting the conservation and regeneration of the species-rich Nardus grasslands habitat. It will feature the implementation of management plans in 32 project areas.
Hungary – 4 projects - LIFE maximum funding 4.4 M€
The first project targets the conservation of populations of the endangered Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) in the Carpathian basin (Hungary and Slovakia). The actions involve, in particular, securing nesting sites and the creation of suitable habitats for its principal prey the European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus).
The second project aims to establish the long-term conservation and restoration of the natural habitats of steppic woods with oaks and of Pannonic sand steppes at the Nagykörösi pusztai tölgyesek Natura 2000 site.
The objectives of the third project are the restoration and management of wetlands in the Felsö-Kongó meadows.
The fourth project targets the conservation and stabilisation of the endangered Pannonian endemic and extremely rare plant the long-lasting pink (Dianthus diutinus) at its three known European populations (all in Hungary). The conservation actions include forest restructuring, the restoration of the natural grassland habitat and the establishment of inter-connections between the populations to increase genetic flow and diversity.
Italy – 4 projects - LIFE maximum funding 3.3 M€
The first project targets the conservation of endangered raptors of the “Promontorio del Gargano” Special Protection Area (SPA) in the Province of Foggia, specifically the Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), the Lanner falcon (Falco biarmicus), the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus and the Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo). The two main sets of actions are to conserve their threatened breeding sites and to increase their natural food supply.
The second project aims to safeguard nine Natura 2000 sites in Latium and Calabria through the restoration of marine natural habitats (especially Posidonia beds), and coastal dunes habitats.
The goal of the third project is the conservation and restoration of calcareous fens at three Natura 2000 sites on the Friuli plain. This will be achieved by the implementation of management plans, the restoration of natural habitats, and the conservation of several plant species.
The main objective of the fourth project is to establish a network of Sites of Community Importance and Special Protection Areas within the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park by means of the implementation and official adoption of 16 management plans for 29 Natura 2000 sites. The project also foresees the restoration of beech forests with Taxus and Ilex and the reduction of disturbance by vehicles in coastal dune habitats.
Latvia – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 0.81 M€
The target area of the first project is the Adazi military training area, which is the largest military training site in the Baltic States. The major part of the area is a Natura 2000 site. The main objectives are to integrate nature conservation and the use of the territory as a military training area, and to restore to favourable conservation status the area’s natural habitats.
The second project will focus on the sustainable management of habitats with ecological value, in particular natural and semi-natural grassland formations, forest habitats and running waters and lakes, in the Vestiena Natura 2000 site.
Malta – 1 project - LIFE maximum funding 0.46 M€
This first LIFE-Nature project for Malta will focus on the conservation of the largest colony of the Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) at the Rdum tal-Madonna Natura 2000 site.
The Netherlands – 8 projects - LIFE maximum funding 9.2 M€
The objective of the first project is to restore a variety of wet natural habitats (brackish water marshes, shallow creeks and inlets and grass meadows) and thus increase the habitat suitable for an endangered rodent, the root vole (Microtus oeconomus). The return of some marsh-dependent birds such as waders, terns and spoonbills is also foreseen.
The second project foresees the conservation, restoration and development of the De Zouweboezem marsh area in southern Holland, which is important for bird species. The main objective is to maintain its high biological value and to improve the breeding and feeding possibilities for all marsh birds, especially of the purple heron (Ardea purpurea).
The third project aims to conserve and recover the wetlands of Wieden and Weerribben, which is one of the most important wetland ecosystems in Western Europe. The project will create more open water habitats, restore floating bogs and will improve the reed beds.
The fourth Dutch project foresees the conservation, restoration and enlargement of the raised active bog area in the Engbertsdijksvenen Natura 2000 Site.
The fifth Dutch project targets the restoration of brackish natural habitats in the Westzaan polder Natura 2000 site, in particular by restoring the flow of the salt water into the site.
The sixth project aims to restore the salt marsh habitats of the Eastern Scheldt by the reintroduction of the tidal movement.
The seventh project aims to restore the migration route for eight endangered fish species up the river Roer to the original spawn sites. This will be carried out by the construction of fish ladders and modifications to the river structures to help the fish pass.
The eighth project will create an ecological network and corridors connecting three Natura 2000 Sites around the Hoeksche Waard in order to improve the conservation status of the endangered root vole.
Poland – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 1.6 M€
The first project’s main objective is to implement a new strategy for the sustainable conservation of the European bison (Bison bonasus) in the Białowieża Primeval Forest. This will be achieved by implementing various habitat restoration measures, including establishing corridors, relocating winter feeding sites and constructing water reservoirs.
The second project focuses on the management of four Natura 2000 sites in Central and Eastern Poland and the restoration of wet meadows for six endangered butterfly species.
Portugal – 4 projects - LIFE maximum funding 3.8 M€
The aim of the first project is to protect and maintain, at a stable and self-sustainable conservation status, the Bugio’s petrel, (Pterodroma feae). Up to 90% of the breeding population (between 180 and 250 couples) of this endangered and rare seabird breeds in a two-hectare colony in the Desertas islands (part of the Madeira Archipelago).
The second project aims to restore and preserve key areas of habitat within the Moura/Barrancos Natura 2000 site suitable for the extremely endangered Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). Considered one of the rarest feline species on Earth, the lynx suffers from continued habitat loss and accidental death from trappers and road transport.
The third project targets the restoration and management of marine habitats (seagrass meadows, reefs and sand banks) at the Arrábida-Espichel Natura 2000 site. The project plans to restore lost seagrass meadows and to implement an active management strategy for the reefs and sand banks, controlling illegal fishing practices (eg dredging for bivalves) and defining anchoring sites.
The fourth project aims to maintain or to increase the population of Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus) in South Portugal, which constitutes the only large tree nesting population of the species at Europe.
Romania – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 0.77 M€
The first project will take place in the Small Island of Braila Natural Park in the Lower Danube. Its actions include the restoration of some 450 ha of floodplain forest, the removal of Amorpha fruticosa (an invasive species) from over 200 ha and the restoration of a natural hydrological regime over an area of some 2500 ha.
The second project targets eight islands in the Lower Danube in Călăraşi County. It aims to protect and assure the appropriate management of over 600 ha of natural floodplain habitats, which will also favour certain endangered riparian bird species present on the islands. Natural regeneration of the floodplain forest will be encouraged on 30% of the surface of the islands, native species will be planted on 16 ha, and a strategy to encourage eco-tourism will be set in place.
Slovenia – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 2.3 M€
The first project will focus on the conservation of wetlands of the Mura river at two Natura 2000 sites Its objectives include improving the conservation status of 1200 ha of floodplain forests and 20 ha of wet grasslands, as well as carrying out a series of actions (dredging channels and oxbows, installing sluices, re-opening side-channels, removing revetments ...) to restore a more natural water flow.
The second project is situated at Cerknica Lake, which is an intermittent lake that floods in winter and completely dries-up in summer. It aims to ensure the long-term conservation of the lake habitats (meadows and turloughs) and the conservation of the associated species through an extensive programme of renaturation of former watercourses. The project will also purchase 250 ha for nature conservation.
Slovakia – 2 projects - LIFE maximum funding 1.7 M€
The first project focuses on the restoration to favourable conservation status of endangered breeding and migrating birds in the wetlands of two Natura 2000 sites (Senné and Mezibodrozie) through securing an appropriate water regime in key locations.
The second project targets the conservation, restoration and management of inland sand dunes and dry heaths habitats of the Zahorie Military Training area.
Spain – 4 projects - LIFE maximum funding 11.9 M€
The first project targets the recovery of populations of the endemic giant lizard of La Gomera (Gallotia bravoana) in the Canary Islands through the management of the actual areas and the restoration of new ones and the improvement of the captivity breeding programme started in 2001. A reintroduction programme will be tested in the newly restored areas.
The second project targets the conservation of the Iberian lynx, the world's most threatened feline species. The project will focus on the stabilisation and maintenance of existing populations, the increase of the number of individuals, the expansion of the lynx´s actual range, and the establishment of connections between isolated sub-populations. The project also proposes, for the first time, the reintroduction into the wild of individuals brought up in captivity.
The third project aims to implement a programme for the recovery, management, and monitoring of 35 small wetlands associated with the Canal of Castilla (Palencia) including three Special Protection Areas and one Site of Community Importance. The project will focus on the recovery and management of the wetlands in order to fulfil the habitat needs of endangered bird species such as the bittern (Botaurus stellaris) and the aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola).
The fourth project intends, in cooperation with electricity companies, to correct and promote a new design for dangerous overhead electric cables at five Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas for birds in the Region of Murcia.
Sweden – 1 project - LIFE maximum funding 0.38 M€
This project aims to protect the endangered bog woodland and alkaline fens habitats at Hejnum Kallgate, as well as protecting the main site of the marsh fritillary butterfly and the only site of the lady slipper orchid in Gotland.
United Kingdom – 1 project - LIFE maximum funding 2.8 M€
This project aims to restore some 3,300 ha of active blanket bog at two Natura 2000 sites (Berwyn and Migneint) in Wales. Actions include blocking over 100 km of drains, clearing trees and shrubs from 225 ha, purchasing 180 ha for conservation management and removing invading Rhododendron and Picea seedlings from 900 ha.
 Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna
 Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds