Newsletter 1 24 May 2013

The Life Program: the EU's funding instrument for the environment

The promulgation by the European Commission of the Directives 92/43/EEC "Habitat" and 79/409/EEC "Birds" for the protection and conservation of the species and environments has led to the subsequent establishment by Member countries of the Site of Community importance (SCI) - areas which are of interest in the conservation of natural habitats and animal and plant species, included in the "Habitat" Directive and Special Areas of Conservation (SPA) - areas that are of particular importance in the conservation of the avifauna.

This has resulted in of the Nature 2000 Network aimed at protecting biodiversity at the European level, marking a moment certainly important in the environmental field, as it is promoted a concept of conservation that integrates the social and economic policies with those of the environment, also introducing in the individual Member the awareness of the members sharing of a common natural heritage.

In fact, the enhancement and conservation of these areas of high natural value, implemented through a multidisciplinary management approach, allowing them to act as nodes for supporting the creation of a larger ecological network at European level.


To confirm the richness of biodiversity in Italy under the coordination of the competent Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea have been identified more than 2,700 sites of Community importance

The European Parliament and the Council for the implementation of these objectives adopted in 1992 a Regulation establishing the Community financial instrument called LIFE. To understand the importance of this tool for the conservation of the environment and biodiversity at the European level, it would suffice remember that since 1992, the year of its establishment, this program has co-financed 3,708 projects for a total of around 2.8 billion euro.

The story of Life has gone through four phases: Life I, active from 1992 to 1995, coinciding with the start-up phase of this program; Life II (1996-1999) and LIFE III (2000-2006). These latter Life have extended activities and the Natura 2000 Network also to the new States that joined the European Union.

The fourth phase of the LIFE programme, LIFE+ ran from 2007-2013. It consisted of three components:

LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity co-financed best practice or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives and the Natura 2000 Network.

LIFE+ Environment Policy & Governance co-financed innovative or pilot projects contributing to the implementation of European environmental policy and the development of innovative policy ideas, technologies, methods and instruments

LIFE+ Information & Communication was a new component that co-financed projects relating to communication and awareness-raising campaigns on environmental, nature protection or biodiversity conservation issues, as well as projects related to forest fire prevention (awareness raising, special training).

But the European Commission is already working for the continuation of the program (period 2014-2020) even after the expiry of Life +, and it will present a new line of action related to climate change. 

For more information about the program and Life on the funded projects, please refer to the official website of the European Commission and (of the project).


The project CON.FLU.PO: start of activities

CON.FLU.PO is the acronym for  "Restoring connectivity in the Po river basin opening migratory route for Acipenser naccarii* and 10 fish species in Annex II". The project is co-funded by the European Commission with € 3,496,809 (49,3%) within the LIFE program NAT/11/188 11, amounting to a total of  € 7,088,476.

Coordinating beneficiary is the Regione Lombardia - DG Agriculture, while Emilia Romagna Region, the Interregional Agency for the Po River, the Po Basin Authority, Consorzio Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino, the provinces of Piacenza and Rovigo, the Company Graia are associated beneficiaries, with the addition of Enel Green Power SpA as a co-financier. Ministry of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, Canton Ticino, Piedmont region, the Veneto Region, the Lombardy Region, DG Systems and green landscape, the Italian Federation of Sport Fishing and Underwater Activities support the project too.

This huge partnership is justified from the large project area. In fact, for the first time, we wanted to give a concrete answer to the problem of re-establishing a connection from Po delta to Lake Maggiore, through the construction of two fish ladders at the level of the Isola Serafini barrier. They will reopen most of the river corridor at fish migration. Forty fish species will benefit of this. Among these eleven are in the EU lists and fifteen are endemic or sub-endemic species, such as Sturgeon Cobice (Acipenser naccarii) - priority species at Community level - and four species of cyprinids reofili: Pigo, Barbo Comune, Roach and Savetta. The project involves direct activities in support of these species such as breeding, release into the wild and subsequent monitoring.

These activities directly invest 33 SCI (Sites of Community Interest) present in the project area, thus guaranteeing a further strengthening of the Rete Natura 2000.

To look in more detail the structure of the project and the various actions that will be completed by September 30, 2017, the date of completion of the program, please refer to the following link of the Lombardy Region:

The project started on 1/12/2012, but the kick-off meeting to launch the "official" was held on December 3 at the facilities of Isola Serafini Enel Green Power, with the presence of representatives of all project partners , Joseph Elias, then Minister of Agriculture of the Region of Lombardy, and Angelo Salsi, Head of Unit of the European Commission's LIFE program.

In the early stages, together with the development activities of the various administrative procedures necessary for the implementation of the planned activities were launched the first technical activities.

Initially, the project activities were carried out by Regione Lombardia through the Project Manager (Alberto Lugoboni), which was accompanied by internal staff dedicated comprising: the Financial Manager, the Technical Officer for financial management, and the Technical Officer for the management and spatial planning. It is processing of defining the selection of the Project Manager and the terms of reference for the web designer.

These figures combined with those of the technical and administrative staff of the other partners, have created the Coordination Structure and Project Management (Action F1) which secured the necessary coordination thanks to a series of meetings every month. Further support for the activities was given from the meetings of the Technical Groups 3 (Monitoring, Step fish, and breeding and reproduction) created under Action F1.

In this project a goal of absolute importance is to promote a co-ordinated control of the management activities of the areas along the Po river route, with particular attention to the “Rete Natura 2000”. Coordination Committee was created, on 14.02.2013 (Action A2) and it collects Authority partners of the project with planning authority (Regione Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna and the Po River Basin Authority), but open to all stakeholders involved in the management of the river corridor.

The final design of the two fish ladders (Action A3), both structured in order to facilitate the assembly and disassemble work, is already at an advanced stage by the staff of Graia that works closely with the Technical Group for fish passage and under the supervision of the Coordination Committee.

These structures include the construction of fish passes in successive basins, monitoring cabins of the fish species in transit (Action D1), specific products for the control and containment of invasive alien species (Action C3). As soon as possible we start the process of making available the soil (Action B1) for their construction, which will be realized over the course of 2 years (Action C1).

Since the project have started at the Park of Ticino also planned activities by Action C2, conducted in collaboration with the provinces of Piacenza and Rovigo and with the support of the Technical Group Breeding, and aimed to breeding and restocking of the sturgeon and other  4 species of cyprinids reofili of Community interest, these actions represent a focal point of the project because they allow a concrete support for the conservation of these endangered species, thanks to the control activities carried out on restocking (Action D2).

Moreover, we have to pay attention to the fact that actual persistence of rainfall in the project area is causing an abnormal increase in the level of the rivers, including their lateral branches, which is making difficult to capture in the wild Cyprinidae reofili for squeezing them to get the eggs to be placed in the hatchery.

Finally yet importantly, are outreach and education activities that are being pursued both to spread the project activities but also to create greater awareness on the importance of the river conservation.

So we provided a series of activities. Some focused on the general public - such as the creation of the website (Action E3), a periodic newsletter (Action E6), a movie ( Action E5), in addition to explanatory boards (Action E4), press conferences (Action E2) and Layman's report (Action E8) other most targeted to schools ( through the creation of trails, facilities and kit for teaching - Shares E9 and E10). As well as the inclusion of the scientific world, with the realization of a final international conference where we will discuss the strategies and techniques for the river defragmentation and about the conservation of threatened fish species (Action E7).

Actions F1, F2, F3, F4 and F5 provide the management and monitoring activities of the project Actions in connection with those of other projects.


Il sito è realizzato con il contributo dello strumento finanziario LIFE della Comunità Europea.