BirdLife Malta’s LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project awarded €1.3 million

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The European Commission has approved an investment package of €264.8 million to support Europe's environment, nature and green growth. The investment covers 96 new projects spanning to 21 Member States, funded under the LIFE programme for the Environment.

In Malta, €1.3 million has been approved for BirdLife Malta's 'LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija Project': The aim of the project is to ensure the long-term recovery of the Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) in Malta and Gozo, by increasing knowledge of colony sites, increasing the number of breeding pairs (by 10 %) and raising reproductive output (by 25 %).

The project will also reduce the threats posed by human activity (e.g. disturbance of nesting colonies by boat operators, light pollution) and draft a national species action plan for the Yelkouan shearwater.

BirdLife Malta, along with its project partners, is hosting an international workshop in Gozo, starting this Monday, on seabirds to present an inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) within Maltese waters.

Identified by the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, an initiative started in 2011, these areas are proposed to become a part of the EU's Natura 2000 network.

Over 50 international participants from 17 Mediterranean countries will be in Gozo for this event, including marine scientists, conservationists, government authorities, as well as European Commission representatives, will gather to set a way forward for seabird protection across national borders.

The other European projects selected cover actions in the field of environment and resource efficiency, supporting the transition to a more circular and sustainable economy, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information. EU will co-finance the projects by providing € 160.6 million.

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "Money invested in environment projects is money well spent. I am delighted to see that our LIFE programme will support many innovative projects, and I am sure they will make a vital contribution. As well as protecting and enhancing natural capital, there are many promising avenues here that will help steer Europe towards a low-carbon, resource efficient and sustainable future. We will follow these projects carefully, with a view to sharing and replicating their success."

The Commission received 1 117 applications in response to a call for proposals that closed in June 2014. Of these, 96 were selected for co-funding through the programme's three components.

The LIFE programme is the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 4 000 projects across the EU and in third countries, mobilising € 7.8 billion and contributing € 3.4 billion to the protection of the environment and climate.

At any given moment some 1100 projects are ongoing. The budget for the LIFE Programme for 2014-2020 is set at € 3.4 billion in current prices, and has a sub-programme for environment and a sub-programme for climate action.

Photograph: Scopoli's Shearwaters by Aron Tanti

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