What is the European Union LIFE program in Spain?
The European Union LIFE program in Spain is a funding program established and created by the European Union in 1992 in order to support environmental and climate action projects. The main objective of the program is to contribute to the implementation, updating, and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation. The program provides funding for various types of projects, including nature conservation, environmental governance, and climate action.
Below you will find details of various projects with links to further reading.
European Union LIFE projects in Spain
LIFE Bears with future
Project: Improving key food resources and preventing winter conflicts for Cantabrian brown bears under climate change scenarios.
Timeframe: 10/2020 to 03/2025
- Contribute to the improvement of trophic availability in climate change scenarios by planting, treating or improving small forests of autochthonous species that produce fruits for the bears from summer to winter and have low climate vulnerability, to compensate for the foreseen reduction in other trophic resources.
- Inform and raise awareness between the stakeholders involved in potential conflicts with bears less prone to hibernate, providing advice and guidance for the development of winter activities in bear areas.
- Disseminate information and best practices generated in the project, contributing to the adaptation of the bear management to the expected impacts of climate and social change and facilitating the development of integrated adaptation and nature-based strategies by key stakeholders in these territories.
Read our detailed page about the Cantabrian brown bear here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/cantabrian-brown-bear-ursus-arctos-oso-pardo-cantabrico/
LIFE Lynx Connect
Project: Creating a genetically and demographically functional Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) metapopulation.
Timeframe: 09/2020 to 09/2025
- The previous LIFE project IBERLINCE ‘Recovery of the historical distribution for the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Spain and Portugal (2011-2018)’ was focused on the recovery of the historical distribution for the Iberian Lynx in the Iberian Peninsula, on its reintroduction in Portugal, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha, and on the consolidation of the reintroductions carried out by previous LIFE projects in Andalusia.
- After the achievements of IBERLINCE, LYNXCONNECT’s main challenge is to make the Iberian Lynx population self-sustainable and genetically viable in the long term. This will be done by connecting the six existing nuclei and creating two new ones. All this will help to reduce the risk of extinction of this species.
Read our detailed page about the Iberian Lynx here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/iberian-lynx-lynx-pardinus-lince-iberico/
Project: The LIFE IBERCONEJO project is a conservation initiative focused on protecting the Iberian habitat and rabbit population in Spain.
Timeframe: 2021 to 2024
The project, which involves 15 partners from Spain and Portugal, including NGOs, research institutes, public administrations, and private entities, started in January 2021 and will run until December 2024. With a budget of 5.6 million euros, of which 3.4 million are co-financed by the European Union, the project aims to establish a governance structure called ERICC (European Rabbit Iberian Coordination Committee) to coordinate rabbit management efforts in the Iberian Peninsula. In addition, the project seeks to implement standardized protocols for monitoring rabbit populations, their health status, and their impact on agriculture.
LIFE Aegypius Return
The LIFE Aegypius Return project aims to consolidate and accelerate the return of the Cinereous Vulture in Portugal and western Spain by improving its habitat and foraging conditions, minimising threats and developing national capacities. The project team will implement targeted conservation actions across ten Natura 2000 sites, along almost the entire Spanish-Portuguese border, to double the Cinereous Vulture breeding population in Portugal to at least 80 pairs in 5 colonies and downgrade the national status of the species from Critically Endangered to Endangered by 2027.
LIFE Cerceta pardilla
Project: Coordinated actions for the recovery of the marbled duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) in Spain
Timeframe: 01/2021 to 12/2025
- The marbled duck is one of the seven species at critical risk of extinction in Spain. Up until midway through the twentieth century, the species was abundant in the Mediterranean coastal wetlands, and especially in Doñana, but a drastic population decline over the past few decades has left it at imminent risk of extinction.
- The number of breeding pairs in Spain, virtually the only remaining area of occurrence in Europe, was 74 pairs in 2020 and in decline. Habitat loss and degradation are the greatest threats for survival of the species. These wetlands are suffering the impacts of drought, pollution, the proliferation of artificial barriers and other threats caused by human activities.
- The project’s actions will be carried out in the wetlands in Andalucía, Valencia and Murcia.
- These sites are all protected areas forming part of the Natura 2000 Network which is a key tool for the protection of the European Union’s biodiversity in the face of human activities. Its goal is to guarantee the existing biodiversity via the conservation of natural habitats and Europe’s wild flora and fauna through the maintenance and reestablishment of their favourable conservation status, achieved via the creation of an extensive network of natural areas across the continent, specifically with conservation objectives in mind.
LIFE Pro BV
Project: The goal is to ensure the long-term conservation of the Bearded Vulture in Europe.
Timeframe: 01/2022 to 01/2027
Read detailed information about bearded vultures in Spain here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/bearded-vulture-gypaetus-barbatus-quebrantahuesos/
- The main objective of the project is the conservation and protection of the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), an endangered species, in the Central Pyrenees.
- To achieve this, actions will be carried out on both sides of the border between Spain and Portugal, in order to improve the habitat conditions and reduce the threats affecting the species.
- The project also aims to raise awareness among the public about the importance of conserving this raptor and encourage collaboration among different key stakeholders, including area managers and the local community.
LIFE Connect Ricoti
Project: Structural and assisted connectivity improvement of Dupont’s lark (Chersophilus duponti) Iberian metapopulation.
Timeframe: 09/2021 to 12/2026
- LIFE Ricotí “Conservation of the Dupont’s lark and its habitat in Soria (Spain) (2016-2021). LIFE15 NAT/ES/000802 was the first LIFE project focused exclusively on the conservation of the Dupont’s lark. It was developed entirely in the SPAs Altos de Barahona and Páramo de Layna in the province of Soria.
- This is the continuation of the Life Ricotí project. Taking advantage of the experience acquired in habitat management and management, a more ambitious objective is now proposed: to improve the connectivity of the populations of the Dupont’s lark through the management and restoration of habitat and the translocation of individuals, extending the area of action to the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla León and Catalonia.
LIFE Farming Bardenas
Project: Conservation strategy for steppe birds in Bardenas Reales (Navarra, Spain)
Timeframe: 10/2021 to 09/2025
Read about the Bardenas Reales natural park and biosphere reserve here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/bardenas-reales-natural-park-and-biosphere-reserve/
- The project aims to ensure the profitability of agricultural activity in Bardenas Reales by recognizing the added value that farmers, livestock farmers, and other users bring through proper land management, which is key for these agricultural systems to thrive and continue to harbor populations of target species.
- Grassland birds depend on large cereal steppes for their survival, with a diversity of uses (cereals, legumes, fallow, livestock) that provide food, shelter, and nesting sites.
- Bardenas Reales has more than 20% of fallow land in all of Navarra, essential habitat for the conservation of these species.
- Some of the species that will be benefited by this project are: great bustard, little bustard, partridge, cirl bunting, lark, kestrel or cuckoo, among many others. These birds represent an important natural value of Bardenas Reales, a space recognized as Natura 2000, Natural Park, and Biosphere Reserve.
Project: Conservation and restoration of drove roads to enhance biodiversity and connectivity of Natura 2000 sites in Spain
Timeframe: 10/2019 to 06/2024
- This project consists of carrying out conservation and ecological restoration actions in a part of the livestock routes of the Community of Madrid and in the Cañada Real Conquense, in the Community of Castilla La Mancha, in order to recover its ecological role and improve connectivity between areas of the Natura 2000 Network.
- The actions will focus on two areas: The Cañada Real Conquense, which connects the Sierra Morena with the Sierra de Albarracín and the general network of livestock routes in the Community of Madrid.
- Many of these are largely deteriorated by abandonment, erosion or invasion by other uses, which has given rise to a severe loss of bio diversity within them.
LIFE Olivares Vivos
Project: This is an initiative to increase the profitability of the olive grove by recovering its biodiversity. It is based in jaen province which holds the largest concentration of olive groves in Spain.
Timeframe: 09/2021 to 09/2026
- Keeping the herbaceous cover in olive groves not only plays an important role in maintaining biodiversity, but it also provides ecosystem services, both at the environmental and the agronomical level.
- Through this action, the herbaceous cover in demonstration olive groves is being managed to enhance biodiversity, given the positive effect it has on the associated flora and fauna, mainly arthropods, which, in turn, positively impact on birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
- The management of the herbaceous cover seeks to regenerate the natural vegetation that exists in the soil seed bank.
- For this purpose, chemical control using herbicides has been suspended on the demonstration farms where it was a common practice before they joined the project.
- In addition, an estimation was made to identify the farms where an initial ploughing was necessary to favour germination of the seeds present in the soil.
Project: Revitalizing semi-arid extensive farming habitats through the sustainable management of their associated scrubland areas.
Timeframe: 12/2021 to 08/2026
- Much of Europe’s biodiversity is closely linked to traditional and extensive agricultural practices.
- Agricultural ecosystems represent 38% of the total area of the Natura 2000 network, most of which has been shaped by extensive farming systems.
- A very good example of this type of habitat are the Dehesas/Montados in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula (about 4 million hectares in Spain and Portugal).
- The ultimate goal of this project is to repair and recreate the scrubland (unused for farming) habitat alongside traditional farming areas in order to protect and enhance biodiversity levels.
Read about dehesas in Extremadura here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/the-dehesa-of-extremadura/
Project: Conservation and restoration of relict Taxus baccata woods in the Valencian Community.
Timeframe: 09/2021 to 12/2026
- LIFE Teixeres, with the full title “Conservation and Restoration of Taxus baccata Relic Forests”, has the main objective of improving the conservation status and resilience of Mediterranean yew forests in the Valencian area.
- The yew habitat in the Mediterranean area is considered a priority by the European Union. However, it faces various threats in Valencian lands, such as fragmentation, dispersion and reduced surface, low recruitment of new individuals, browsing by domestic and wild herbivores, climate change and fires.
LIFE Alnus Taejo
Project: The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the area of alluvial forests in the Tagus river by 1 032 ha (516 km of streams), habitat which now only represents 14% of the length of the river basin. The project focuses on the SCIs of the Western Tajo International Basin. The main threat is severe degradation and loss of water, soil, space and biodiversity.
Timeframe: 09/2021 to 08/2025
Read our information about th Tajo International natural park here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/tajo-international/
- The LIFE ALNUS TAEJO project aims to protect, conserve, enhance and restore rivers and riverbanks dominated by residual alluvial forests which host a high biodiversity and influence the water quality of rivers and their ecosystems.
- Additionally, the project will demonstrate that the results of the actions improve when integrated river basin management criteria, social awareness, technical training, knowledge transfer, experience sharing in a network and environmental education are applied.
- Work with public administrations and relevant stakeholders to improve hydrological ecosystems management.
- Improve vegetal structure and condition of 91E0* species (e.g. Alnus glutinosa, Frangula alnus, Fraxinus angustifolia, Salix atrocinerea).
- Recover soil and fluvial space, promoting connectivity between ecosystems of the basin and the restoration of degraded areas.
- Reduce agricultural pressure on the riverbanks.
- Raise awareness of citizens to fluvial ecosystems.
- Reduce pollution, and social and urban pressure on river forests.
- Improve water quality and river flows, through better river structure, removing illegal barriers and stopping illegal water extraction.
- Enhance adaptation to climate change to help prevent droughts and desertification.
- Reduce the number and spread of invasive species.
- Control Phytophthora alni, a disease that effects alder.
- Promote scientific and technical administrative networks to advance the replicability of these approaches in other river basins and ecosystems.
LIFE El Hito
Project: The main goals of the LIFE El Hito project are to recover the natural values of the El Hito Natural Reserve located in Cuenca province of Castilla la Mancha. Also, to stop the loss of biodiversity in this unique conservation area in Europe.
Timeframe: 10/2021 to 12/2024
See also the Iberian Highlands rewilding project close to this area: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/the-iberian-highlands-rewilding-project/
- With an area of 996 hectares, Laguna de El Hito is a natural space included in the Natura 2000 Network (ZEPA-ZEC ES0000161) and considered an internationally important wetland by the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO. It hosts an excellent representation of the salt steppe landscapes of the Mediterranean and has priority habitats and singular species in danger of extinction.
- The lagoon is also the second most relevant wintering area for cranes in Spain, and both the wetland and the surrounding salt areas and crops are of vital importance to numerous bird species, with special relevance to steppe birds.
- Grazing, dry cereal farming, uncontrolled dumping, and small drainages have destroyed or partially reduced its priority habitats.
- The project aims to recover the Laguna de El Hito natural space, including 100% of its priority habitats. This will be done with the involvement of the main actors involved in local development (administrations, farmers, tourist agents, and the general population) to ensure sustainable management of the territory.
Project: Aquatic invasive alien species of freshwater and estuarine systems: Awareness and prevention inthe Iberian Peninsula.
Timeframe: 11/2018 to 10/2023
- The main objective of the LIFE INVASQUA project is to increase the awareness of the Iberian public and interested groups involved in the problem of invasive species on aquatic ecosystems.
- Additionally, the project aims to develop tools that improve an efficient early warning and rapid response framework (EWRR) for the management of new invasive species that may appear in fresh water habitats and estuaries.
- The project is going to increase communication and dissemination of information on invasive species.
- To achieve this, it aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on successful environmental solutions and practices through the development of cooperation between stakeholders.
Website: https://lifeinvasaqua.com/ (spanish and Portuguese)
The European Union LIFE program is open to all member states, including Spain, and you can see a resumen for past and present projects in Spain here: https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/system/files/2022-06/Spain_Update_EN_Final_May22.pdf
Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/
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