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2019 LIFE call for proposals for traditional projects – nature and biodiversity
Deadline: 19 Jun 2019   - 54 days

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1.1 What is LIFE?

LIFE is the European Programme for the Environment and Climate Action, for the period from 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2020. The legal basis for LIFE is Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 20131 (hereinafter "the LIFE Regulation").

The LIFE Programme is structured in two sub-programmes: the sub-programme for environment and the sub-programme for climate action.

The sub-programme for environment covers three priority areas:

  •   LIFE Environment and Resource Efficiency

  •   LIFE Nature and Biodiversity

  •   LIFE Environmental Governance and Information

The thematic priorities for each priority area are further described in Annex III to the LIFE Regulation.

The sub-programme for climate action covers three priority areas:

  •   LIFE Climate Change Mitigation

  •   LIFE Climate Change Adaptation

  •   LIFE Climate Governance and Information

The overall financial envelope for the implementation of the LIFE Programme is EUR 3.457 Billion, 75% of which is allocated to the sub-programme for environment (EUR 2,592,491,250).

According to Article 17(4) of the LIFE Regulation, at least 81% of the total budget shall be allocated to projects supported by way of action grants or, where appropriate, financial instruments. The second LIFE Multiannual Work Programme covering the period 2018-2020 foresees a budget of EUR 1,243.81 Million for the sub-programme for environment2.

During the period 2014-2020, the Contracting Authority will publish one call for LIFE project proposals per year under the LIFE Regulation.

 

1.2 "Traditional" Projects

Article 2 of the LIFE Regulation defines the various types of projects which may be supported by the LIFE 2014-2020 programme.

These "traditional" types of projects are:

  •   "pilot projects" means projects that apply a technique or method that has not been applied or tested before, or elsewhere, and that offer potential environmental or climate advantages compared to current best practice and that can subsequently be applied on a larger scale to similar situations;

  •   “demonstration projects” means projects that put into practice, test, evaluate and disseminate actions, methodologies or approaches that are new or unknown in the specific context of the project, such as the geographical, ecological, socio-economic context, and that could be applied elsewhere in similar circumstances;

  •   “best practice projects” means projects that apply appropriate, cost-effective, state-of- the-art techniques, methods and approaches taking into account the specific context of the project;

  •   "information, awareness and dissemination projects" means projects aimed at supporting communication, dissemination of information and awareness raising in the fields of the sub-programmes for Environment and Climate Action.

In order for a project to be considered pilot/demonstrative, the overall character of its core actions must be pilot/demonstrative. Although some best practice actions might be included in the project proposal, the overall approach must clearly have a pilot/demonstrative character and this should be justified in detail in the proposal.

The following table shows which type of project may be submitted to which priority area:

 

Sub-Programme
Priority Area
Types of Traditional Projects Eligible

Environment
Environment and Resource Efficiency
Demonstration and pilot projects

Environment
Nature and Biodiversity
Best practice, demonstration, and pilot projects

Environment
Environmental Governance and Information
Information, awareness and dissemination projects

Climate Action
Climate Change Mitigation
Best practice, demonstration, and pilot projects

Climate Action
Climate Change Adaptation
Best practice, demonstration, and pilot projects

Climate Action
Climate Governance and Information
Information, awareness and dissemination projects

 

The amount available for co-financing action grants for all types of "traditional" projects under the Environment sub-programme is indicatively set at EUR 224 960 000

Projects financed by the LIFE Programme under one priority area shall avoid undermining environmental or climate objectives in another priority area and, where possible, promote synergies between different objectives as well as the use of green procurement.

1.3 Role of project topics

The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2018-2020 defines project topics implementing the thematic priorities for the sub-programme for environment listed in Annex III to the LIFE Regulation for pilot, demonstration, best practice and information, awareness and dissemination projects ("traditional" projects). They reflect the priorities on which projects should focus during the relevant period. Eligible proposals that reach or pass the minimum pass scores (see section 5.1.1 of the LIFE multiannual work programme for 2018-2020) and target a relevant project topic will be given priority over projects of comparable quality that do not fall under one of the project topics. See also the Guide for the evaluation of LIFE project proposals 2019 for further details on scoring of proposals.

1.4 How, where and when to submit a proposal?

Project submission procedure will be organised in two stages:

  •   Stage 1: Concept note

  •   Stage 2: Full proposal

Stage 1: Concept Note

Concept notes should be submitted through the online tool eProposal, available via the LIFE web page. The application tool contains all administrative (A), technical (B) and financial (F) forms required to submit a Concept Note.

For complete details regarding the application forms relevant at Stage 1, please refer to section 3 of this document. For complete details regarding the use of the eProposal tool, please refer to Annex 3 of this document.

The concept note can be modified, validated and (re)submitted as many times as needed until the deadline. You are recommended to submit your draft(s) regularly during the entire submission period to avoid last minutes issues with your internet connection of other IT related failures. Each subsequent submission overwrites the previously submitted version (earlier versions are not archived and are therefore not available anymore).

Applicants must submit their concept notes to the Contracting Authority via eProposal before

17/06/2019, 16:00 Brussels local time.

 

Stage 2: Full proposal

The applicants with the best ranked concept notes will be invited (in 10/ 2019) to submit a full proposal using the web tool eProposal available via the LIFE web page.

The application tool contains all administrative (A), technical (B and C) and financial (F) forms required, and functionalities to attach relevant documents (maps, photos, diagrams, graphs, mandatory administrative and financial annexes). For complete details regarding the application forms, please refer to section 3 of this document. For complete details regarding the use of the eProposal tool, please refer to Annex 3 of this document.

The proposal can be modified, validated and (re)submitted as many times as needed until the Stage 2 submission deadline. You are recommended to submit your draft(s) regularly during the entire submission period to avoid last minutes issues with your internet connection of other IT related failures. Each subsequent submission overwrites the previously submitted version (earlier versions are not archived and are therefore not available anymore).

For the proposals covered by these guidelines the Contracting Authority is the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).

When preparing the proposal, the applicants may wish to consult the relevant LIFE National Contact Point; the complete list of the names and contact addresses of the national/regional authorities for LIFE in the Member States can be found on the LIFE website at

https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/section/life/life-national-contact-points

1.5 How will LIFE projects be selected?

The technical methodology for the project selection procedure and the selection and award criteria are described in section 5 of the LIFE multiannual work programme for 2018-2020. For a detailed description of how this procedure will be implemented, please refer to the 'Guide for the evaluation of LIFE project proposals 2019'.

Very important: Please note that the e-mail address specified by the applicant as the contact person's e-mail address in form A2 will be used by the Contracting Authority as the single contact point for all correspondence with the applicant during the evaluation procedure. It should therefore correspond to an e-mail account which is valid, active and checked on a daily basis throughout the duration of the evaluation procedure.

The earliest possible starting date of projects is defined in Annex 1.

Applicants invited to submit their full proposals to the Contracting Authority via eProposal will have to do it by the deadline communicated in Stage 2 invitation letter.

1.6 General Guidance to Applicants

The current chapter replies to some frequently asked questions on how to conceive a LIFE project proposal. For specific guidelines, see section 2; for recommendation on how to fill in the technical and financial forms, please refer to section 3 of this document.

1.6.1 In which language may the concept note/full proposal be submitted?

The concept note must be submitted in English.

As for the full proposal, the Contracting Authority strongly recommends that applicants fill in the technical part and especially the financial part of the proposal in clear English only, although they may also be submitted in any of the official EU languages, except Irish.

Note that the grant agreement, project management, formal reporting, key deliverables and all communication with the Contracting Authority will have to be in English.

The title of the proposal and form B1 ("Summary description of the project") must always be submitted in English. Form B1 may in addition also be submitted in the language of the proposal.

1.6.2 Who may submit a proposal?

A proposal may be submitted by any legal person registered in the European Union.

Entities participating in the proposal may fall into three types of beneficiaries: (1) public bodies, (2) private commercial organisations and (3) private non-commercial organisations (including NGOs).

The term "public bodies" is defined as referring to national public authorities, regardless of their form of organisation – central, regional or local structure – or the various bodies under their control, provided these operate on behalf of and under the responsibility of the national public authority concerned. In the case of entities registered as private law bodies wishing to be considered for the purpose of this call as equivalent to "public law bodies", they should provide evidence proving that they comply with all criteria applicable to bodies governed by public law and in the event the organisation stops its activities, its rights and obligations, liability and debts will be transferred to a public body. For a complete definition, please refer to the annex "Public body declaration", which must be completed by all beneficiaries which wish to be considered and treated as a 'public body'. The only exception concerns those central (e.g.: Ministry) and local administrations (e.g.: Provinces, Municipalities, Regions etc.) whose nature of 'public body' is clear.

Please note that so called 'Sole traders' (i.e. entities owned and run by one individual and where there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business) are considered natural persons and are therefore not eligible to participate as beneficiary or affiliate in this call.

Please refer to the 'Guide for the evaluation of LIFE project proposals 2019 of Environment Sub-programme' for full details regarding the compulsory administrative documents which are required with the proposal depending on the legal status of the coordinating beneficiary.

Once a proposal has been accepted for co-funding, the applicant will become the coordinating beneficiary who is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the project. The coordinating beneficiary will be the single point of contact for the Contracting Authority and will be the only beneficiary to report directly to the Contracting Authority on the project's technical and financial progress.

The coordinating beneficiary receives the EU financial contribution from the Contracting Authority and ensures its distribution as specified in the partnership agreements established with the associated beneficiaries (if there are any – see below). The coordinating beneficiary must be directly involved in the technical implementation of the project and in the dissemination of the project results.

The coordinating beneficiary must bear part of the project costs and must thus contribute financially to the project budget. It cannot therefore be reimbursed for 100% of the costs that it incurs.

The coordinating beneficiary must show its legal status (by completing application form A2) confirming legal registration in the EU.

In addition to the coordinating beneficiary, a LIFE proposal may also involve one or more associated beneficiaries and/or one or more project co-financiers.

The associated beneficiary must always contribute technically and financially to the proposal and hence be responsible for the implementation of one or several project actions. Furthermore, it must provide the coordinator beneficiary with all the necessary documents required for the fulfilment of its reporting obligations to the Contracting Authority.

There is no pre-defined number of associated beneficiaries to be involved in a LIFE proposal. A proposal that is submitted without any participant other than the coordinating beneficiary itself is eligible. On the other hand, a beneficiary should not hesitate to associate other beneficiaries, if this would bring an added value to the project, such as when the partnership strengthens the feasibility or the demonstration character of the proposal, its European added value, its impact and/or the transfer of its results and lessons learnt.

Public undertakings whose capital is publicly owned and which are considered an instrument or a technical service of a public administration, and which are subject to the public administration's control, but are in effect separate legal entities, must become beneficiaries if a public administration intends to entrust the implementation of certain project actions to these undertakings3.

Exceptionally an associated beneficiary may be legally registered outside the European Union if the actions outside the EU it is responsible for are (the coordinating beneficiary of the project in any case be based in the EU) necessary to achieve EU environmental objectives and to ensure the effectiveness of interventions carried out in the Member State territories to which the Treaties apply. In other words, the participation of an entity established outside the EU that will only contribute with the know-how or will collaborate to implement actions in the EU will not be considered as sufficient.

 

 

All associated beneficiaries must show their legal status (by completing application form A5), and provide full information on the Member State or third country in which they are registered. In addition all beneficiaries whether registered or not in the EU must declare that they are not in any of the situations foreseen under art. 136(1), 136(4) and 141 of the EU Financial Regulation4 (by signing the application form A3 or A4 – see instructions in section 3 of this document).

For private beneficiaries, the Contracting Authority may accept that affiliated entities to a beneficiary participate in a project as long as all conditions listed in the Model Grant Agreement and its Annex X (Financial and Administrative Guidelines) are fulfilled. However, the association of entities as affiliates may complicate the project structure and thus have a negative impact on the technical and financial coherence of the project. It is therefore entirely in the Contracting Authority's administrative discretion to accept affiliates, and in no case will affiliated entities be accepted for public beneficiaries or entities that do not comply with the description of affiliated entities hereafter.

Affiliated entities need to comply with the eligibility and -exclusion criteria applying to applicants and should have a structural link with the beneficiary concerned (i.e. a legal or capital link) that is neither limited to the project nor established for the sole purpose of the project implementation (so the link would exist independently of the award of the grant; it should exist before the call for proposals and remain valid after the end of the project).

As affiliated entities could be accepted those directly controlled by the beneficiary (i.e. daughter companies or first-tier subsidiaries), entities controlling the beneficiary (mother company) OR in case of Memberships, the beneficiary has to be legally defined as a network, federation, association in which the proposed affiliated entities participate. However, if several beneficiaries want to work with the same 'affiliate', the 'affiliate' should be proposed as 'beneficiary' instead.

If you consider using young volunteers for specific actions, please consider applying for the European Solidarity Corps calls. The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is conceived to offer young people between 18 and 30 in Europe the chance to support a non-governmental organisation (NGO), local authority or private company active in addressing challenging situations across the European Union. In 2019 additional emphasis is placed inter alia on response to environmental and climate challenges, including disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery (excluding immediate disaster response). For further information: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity/organisation_info_en

A project co-financier only contributes to the project with financial resources, has no technical responsibilities, and cannot benefit from the EU financial contribution. Furthermore, it cannot act, in the context of the project, as a sub-contractor to any of the project's beneficiaries.

For specific tasks of a fixed duration, a proposal may foresee the use of sub-contractors. Sub-contractors provide external services to the project beneficiaries who fully pay for the services provided. Beneficiaries (including their affiliated entities) may not act as sub- contractors. Sub-contractors should normally not be identified by name in the proposal; if they are, the General Conditions of the Model LIFE Grant Agreement must still be respected.

For a more detailed description of the respective rules related to the coordinating beneficiary, associated beneficiaries, affiliates, co-financiers and sub-contractors, please refer to the General Conditions of the Model LIFE Grant Agreement.

For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.17.3 of the Grant Agreement.

1.6.3 What is the optimal budget for a LIFE project?

There is no fixed minimum size for project budgets. While large ambitious projects (i.e. over 5,000,000 Euro total costs) have been financed several times in the past, small projects (i.e. below 500,000 Euro total costs) have seldom succeeded due to the limited output and consequently the low added value.

1.6.4 What is the maximum rate of EU co-financing under LIFE?

For the duration of the second LIFE multiannual work programme for 2018-2020, the maximum EU co-financing rate for "traditional" LIFE projects is 55% of the total eligible project costs. An exception is made for "traditional" LIFE projects in the priority area Nature and Biodiversity under the sub-programme Environment for which the EU co-funding rate can go up to 60%, or 75% in specific cases.5

5 This higher co-financing rate of 75% will only be applied to projects allocating 50% or more of the total estimated cost for concrete conservation actions to activities directly benefitting priority habitats or species of the Birds and Habitats Directives, when actions in the project are necessary to achieve the conservation objective.

1.6.5 How much should project beneficiaries contribute to the project budget?

The coordinating beneficiary and any associated beneficiaries are expected to provide a reasonable financial contribution to the project budget. A beneficiary's financial contribution is considered as a proof of its commitment to the implementation of the project objectives – a very low financial contribution may therefore be considered as an absence or lack of commitment.

A proposal cannot be submitted if the financial contribution of any of the beneficiaries to the proposal budget is EUR 0.

Moreover, where public bodies are involved as coordinating and/or associated beneficiaries in a project, the sum of their financial contributions to the project budget must exceed (by at least 2%) the sum of the salary costs charged to the project for personnel who are not considered 'additional'. For details, please refer to section 3.4 of this document.

1.6.6 What is the optimal starting date and duration for a project?

When preparing the project's time planning, beneficiaries should be aware of the expected date of the signature of the grant agreements for the LIFE 2019 projects as indicated in Annex 1.. The earliest possible starting date is also defined in Annex 1. Any costs incurred before the project's starting date will not be considered eligible and cannot be included in the project budget. There is no pre-determined project duration for a LIFE project. Generally speaking, the project duration must correspond to what is necessary to complete all of the project's actions and to reach all its objectives. On average projects last for 3–5 years.

Only under exceptional circumstances, the Contracting Authority may decide to grant an extension of the project duration. The experience of the previous LIFE Programmes has shown that many projects had difficulties completing all actions within the proposed project duration, mostly due to unforeseen delays and difficulties encountered during the project. Beneficiaries are therefore strongly advised to build an appropriate safety margin (e.g. 6 months) into the timetable of their proposal.

Beneficiaries should also be aware that a project that has completed all of its actions prior to the expected end date can submit its final report ahead of schedule and receive its final payment before the official project end date mentioned in the grant agreement.

 

 

1.6.7 Where can a LIFE project take place?

LIFE projects shall take place in the territory of the European Union Member States. The LIFE Programme may also finance activities outside the EU and in overseas countries and territories6 (OCTs), provided that the coordinating beneficiary is based in the EU and strong evidence is provided that the activities to be carried out outside the EU are necessary to achieve EU environmental objectives and to ensure the effectiveness of interventions carried out in the Member State territories to which the Treaties apply (e.g. actions aimed at the conservation of migratory birds in wintering areas or actions implemented on a trans boundary river). Please note that this is clearly an exception as normally actions should be carried out in the EU. However, when the problem at stake cannot be addressed successfully or efficiently unless actions are carried out also in non-EU countries, this will be possible. Qualitative and quantitative evidence to justify the need for those actions outside the EU must be given in the description of each of these actions in the relevant forms.

1.6.8 Who should manage a LIFE project?

It is expected that the project management is carried out by the staff of the coordinating beneficiary. However, on the basis of an appropriate justification it may be carried out by an associated beneficiary or by sub-contractor under the coordinating beneficiary's direct control. Very often a proper project management implies the involvement of a full-time project manager for a smooth coordination and implementation of the project.

The proposal should clearly describe who will be in charge of the project management, how much personnel and time will be devoted to this task and how and by whom decisions on the project will be made during the project period (i.e. how and by whom the project management will be controlled).

1.6.9 Outsourcing of project activities

The beneficiaries should have the technical and financial capacity and competency to carry out the proposed project activities. It is therefore expected that the share of the project budget allocated to external assistance should remain below 35%. Higher shares may only be accepted if an adequate justification for this is provided in the project proposal.

The General Conditions of the Model LIFE Grant Agreement must be respected for any external assistance.

In line with Article 19(3) of the Regulation, beneficiaries (public and private) are strongly advised to use "green" procurement. The European Commission has established a toolkit for this purpose. More information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/gpp/toolkit_en.htm

1.6.10 Under which conditions does LIFE favour transnational projects?

The LIFE Regulation indicates that, while selecting the projects to be co-funded, the Contracting Authority shall have special regard to transnational projects, when transnational cooperation is essential to guarantee environmental or nature protection. On the basis of award criterion 6, additional points will be given to a proposal if there is sufficient evidence for an added value of the transnational approach. If such evidence can be provided, the proposal will be considered for a higher scoring in the project selection process and will therefore have a higher chance of being selected for co-funding.

N.B. The meaning of "transnational" as foreseen in the LIFE Regulation only covers cooperation among Member States as well as cooperation among Member States and third countries participating in the LIFE Programme under article 5 of the LIFE Regulation. Activities outside the Union or in overseas countries and territories, while possible as foreseen under article 6 of the LIFE Regulation, will not entail additional points under award criterion 6.

1.6.11 How voluminous should a LIFE proposal be?

A proposal should be as concise and clear as possible. Applicants should avoid voluminous proposals and should not provide excessively detailed descriptions of project areas, environmental technologies, lists of species, etc.

Clear and detailed descriptions should, however, be provided for all project actions. Maps should be annexed wherever this would be useful to clarify the location of the proposed actions (note that they are obligatory in some cases).

Brochures, CVs and similar documents should not be submitted and will be ignored if provided.

1.6.12 Ongoing activities

Actions already ongoing before the start of the project are not eligible.

Where actions to be undertaken in the project are significantly different from previous or ongoing activities in terms of frequency or intensity they are not considered ongoing. The applicant must provide adequate information in the proposal that allows to assess this aspect.

Exceptionally, in case of actions that were undertaken and completed in the past and that are proposed to be repeated at a similar frequency or intensity during the project, the applicant must provide evidence that such actions would not have been carried out in the absence of the LIFE project.

1.6.13 Sustainability of the project and its actions

LIFE projects represent a considerable investment, and the European Union attaches great importance to the long term sustainability of these investments. The sustainability of the project results in the medium and long term is understood as the capacity to maintain them after project implementation, be it by continuation, by replication or by transfer. It is obligatory that throughout the duration of the project, the beneficiaries consider how these investments will be secured, maintained, developed and made use of or replicated/transferred during or after the end of the project. Successful continuation, replication and/or transfer require a strategy including tasks to multiply the impacts of the projects' solutions and mobilise a wider uptake, reaching a critical mass during the project and/or in a short and medium term perspective after the end of the LIFE project. This goes beyond transfer of knowledge and networking, and involves putting the solutions developed and/or applied in the project into practice beyond the project period, elsewhere or for a different purpose.

1.6.14 Research activities and large infrastructure

Whereas EU funding for research activities is provided under Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014–2020)7, limited research aimed to improve and enhance the knowledge data underpinning the project may be carried out within a LIFE project. Research must be strictly limited and intrinsically related to the project's objectives and the applicant shall explain in detail how the proper implementation of the project relies on these research activities, showing that the existing scientific basis is insufficient, and how the additional knowledge will be used to implement the project actions. In such a case, scientific publications are considered important deliverables of the project.

Projects dedicated to the construction of large infrastructure do not fall within the scope of the LIFE Programme and are therefore not eligible. A project is considered to be dedicated to the construction of large infrastructure if the actual cost8 of a "single item of infrastructure" exceeds € 500,000. A "single item of infrastructure" means all elements as described in form F4a that are physically bound to ensure the functionality of the infrastructural investment (e.g. for an eco-duct the bridge, barriers, signposting, etc.). Such amount may be exceptionally exceeded if full technical justification is provided in the proposal demonstrating the necessity of the infrastructure for ensuring an effective contribution to the objectives of Articles 10, 11 or 12 of the LIFE Regulation.

1.6.15 Complementarity with other EU funding programmes

According to Article 8 of the LIFE Regulation, activities supported from the LIFE Programme must ensure consistency and synergies, and avoid overlap with other funding programmes of the Union. In particular, the Contracting Authority and the Member States must ensure coordination with the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and Horizon 2020.

It is thus essential that, prior to submitting their proposal to the Contracting Authority, beneficiaries check thoroughly whether the actions proposed under their project in practice could be, or are, funded through other EU funds.

The beneficiaries must inform the Contracting Authority about any related funding they have received from the EU budget, as well as any related ongoing applications for funding from the EU budget. The beneficiaries must also check that they are not receiving on-going operating grants from LIFE (or other EU programmes) that could lead to double financing.

 

Failure to signal this in the appropriate form A7 might lead to rejection of the proposal.

Please note that this is an area of growing concern, evidence shows that an increasing number of similar or same proposals are submitted to various programmes. Increasingly severe checks and cross-checks are carried out by the contracting authority. Failure to declare that the same or a similar proposal has been submitted to another programme (or worst, already even partly financed) may have serious consequences.

In addition, at the project revision stage, the national authority may also be required to indicate the steps taken to ensure the coordination and complementarity of LIFE funding with other EU funding programmes.

On the contrary, projects that show synergies with EU policies different than those covered by the LIFE programme and with other EU funding mechanisms, will receive bonus points in the evaluation phase (Award criterion 6) depending on the extent and quality of such synergies. An example of such synergies could be a project aimed at improving waste management that simultaneously increases social integration.

1.6.16 Proposals following or based on previous LIFE projects

If the applicant is proposing a continuation of a previous LIFE project, he should clearly describe in form A7 why a further project phase is needed and how this will complement the results achieved with the previous project. The applicant should also explain when discussing sustainability (form B6), how a further continuation would be ensured with resources other than the LIFE programme. Last, but not least, in the description of every key action (C-forms) the applicant should provide precise information on how this action builds upon and complements the similar action carried out in the previous project phase.

Applicants should also show that they have taken into consideration other LIFE projects financed that addressed a similar issue. They will need to explain how their proposal builds upon or differs from the others and how it will coordinate with them if those projects are still on-going.

During the evaluation process these aspects will be carefully checked. Failure to provide full details on these aspects will have a negative impact on the final score.

1.6.17 Quantification of environmental benefits

The improved performances/advantages introduced by the proposed solution must be quantified in terms of the expected environmental benefits. They must be concrete, realistic and quantified as far as possible and must be presented in a life-cycle reasoning where relevant. This must be done by clearly comparing them to the state-of-play estimated or measured at the outset of the project. In this regard as far as the full proposal is concerned, consistency shall be ensured between environmental benefits described in the relevant forms and values reported in the table on LIFE Key project level indicators .

1.6.18 Coordination requirements for multiple proposals aimed at the same/similar issue

Evidence shows that an increasing number of proposals aimed at the same or at a similar issue are submitted, often in the same Member State without a clear rational and coordination mechanism. This happens more frequently in the Nature and Biodiversity priority area.

To avoid such situations applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with National Contact Points ( https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/section/life/life-national-contact-points) to check whether the topic they are addressing is being addressed also by other applicants. If this is the case, applicants are encouraged to seek cooperation to avoid possible overlaps and increase synergies.

1.7 Personal Data Protection

The personal data supplied with your proposal, notably the name, address and other contact information of the beneficiaries and co-financiers, will be placed in a database named ESAP that will be made available to the EU Institutions and agencies, as well as to a team of external evaluators who are bound by a confidentiality agreement. ESAP is used exclusively to manage the evaluation of LIFE proposals.

The same personal data of successful projects will be transferred to another database called BUTLER, which will be made available to the EU Institutions and agencies and to an external monitoring team who are bound by a confidentiality agreement. BUTLER is used exclusively to manage LIFE projects.

A summary of each project, including the name and contact information of the coordinating beneficiary, will be placed on the LIFE website and made available to the general public. At a certain point the coordinating beneficiary will be invited to check the accuracy of this summary.

The list of successful beneficiaries and the relative amounts awarded to the projects selected will also be published in a public database called the Financial Transparency System9.

The Contracting Authority, or its contractors, may also use the personal data of unsuccessful applicants for follow up actions in connection with future applications.

Throughout this process, data will be processed pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 2018/1725 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Unless indicated otherwise, the questions and any personal data requested that are required to evaluate the application in accordance with the specifications of the call for proposal will be processed solely for that purpose by the Head of Unit Eco-innovation and LIFE of EASME.

 

Details concerning the processing of personal data are available on the privacy statement at: https://ec.europa.eu/easme/sites/easme-site/files/privacy-statement-calls-easme.pdf

Personal data may be registered in the Early Detection and Exclusion System by the EASME, should the beneficiary be in one of the situations mentioned in Articles 136 and 141 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046[1] For more information see the Privacy Statement on: https://ec.europa.eu/info/data-protection-public-procurement-procedures_en

Submission of a proposal implies that you accept that the personal data contained in your proposal is made available as described above. It will not be used in any other way or for any other purposes than those described above.

 

2. LIFE Nature and Biodiversity
2.1 What is LIFE Nature and Biodiversity?

LIFE Nature & Biodiversity aims specifically at contributing to the development and implementation of EU policy and legislation in the area of nature and biodiversity. Projects financed must have a European added value and be complementary to those actions that can be financed under other EU funds during the period 2014–2020.

The priority area LIFE Nature & Biodiversity focuses on:

  • -  contributing to the development and implementation of EU policy and legislation in the area of nature and biodiversity, in the Union Biodiversity Strategy to 202010, and the Birds and Habitats Directives11;

  • -  supporting the further development, implementation and management of the Natura 2000 network; and

  • -  improving the knowledge base for the development, implementation, assessment, monitoring and evaluation of EU nature and biodiversity policy and legislation, and for assessing and monitoring factors, pressures and responses that impact on nature and biodiversity.

There are two distinct sectors of projects which are intended to complement each other: LIFE Nature projects and LIFE Biodiversity projects. A proposed project submitted under the priority area LIFE Nature & Biodiversity must either be a LIFE Nature or a LIFE Biodiversity project.

Annex III of the LIFE Regulation describes the thematic priorities for each of these two sectors as follows:

Thematic priorities for LIFE Nature projects: activities for the implementation of the Birds and/or Habitats Directives in particular:

(i) Activities aimed at improving the conservation status of habitats and species, including marine habitat and species, and bird species, of Union interest;

  1. (ii)  Activities in support of the Natura 2000 network bio-geographical seminars;

  2. (iii)  Integrated approaches for the implementation of prioritised action frameworks.

Thematic priorities for LIFE Biodiversity projects: activities for the implementation of

the Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, in particular:

  1. (i)  Activities aimed at contributing to the achievement of Target 212;

  2. (ii)  Activities aimed at contributing to the achievement of Targets 313, 414 and 515.

Thus LIFE Nature relates specifically to the objectives of the Birds and Habitats Directives, while LIFE Biodiversity is not restricted to the objectives of the Birds and Habitats Directives, but supports the broader implementation of the Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. A nature conservation project that targets exclusively species/habitats of the Birds / Habitats Directives should normally be submitted as a LIFE Nature project. Other projects are more likely to fit better within the requirements of LIFE Biodiversity (N.B. Proposals submitted under NAT or BIO will be evaluated accordingly, no reclassification will be possible).

Notwithstanding the above, it should be noted that the Natura 2000 network of protected areas is still the EU's main contribution in our fight against the loss of biodiversity. Within the classic LIFE Nature projects most of the targets listed in the Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 may be effectively addressed in the context of the Natura 2000 network: e.g. control of invasive alien species may be addressed through control and eradication in and around Natura 2000 sites, developing green infrastructure through the connectivity dimension of the

network and maintaining or enhancing ecosystem services (like flood protection, improving water quality etc.) through nature conservation activities resulting in the preservation or enhancement of these functions for a site or for the whole network in a region.

LIFE Biodiversity addresses targets 2 to 5 of the Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. The most appropriate LIFE Biodiversity projects use innovation, or explore sectors and processes that have not been the target of classic LIFE Nature projects. Applicants should carefully read the project topics for LIFE Biodiversity to understand for which themes best practice would be relevant.

LIFE Nature and LIFE Biodiversity projects should be primarily focussed on nature conservation and/or on halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services. A project that may have a positive but secondary impact on nature and biodiversity and whose main objective is in relation to another environmental thematic priority (e.g. water) should not be submitted under LIFE Nature and Biodiversity. Please refer to the documents 'LIFE Environment and Resource Efficiency, Guidelines for applicants 2019' and 'LIFE Orientation Document'. A project on nature conservation and/or on halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services that essentially consists of targeting awareness raising campaigns should be submitted under LIFE Environmental Governance and Information.

Only wild flora and fauna and natural and semi-natural habitats may be targeted by LIFE Nature & Biodiversity projects. Projects, or actions within projects that target the conservation of domestic species or varieties of plants or animals are not eligible.

13 Target 3: Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to biodiversity
14 Target 4: Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources
15 Target 5: Combat Invasive Alien Species
16 http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/wilderness/pdf/WildernessGuidelines.pdf

While the largest part of Natura 2000 is composed by areas where human activities have

heavily shaped nature and landscape, there are still some significant examples of wilderness or close to wilderness areas. The Commission published the Guidelines for management of wilderness in Natura 200016 showing that a special attention should be dedicated to these precious areas. In the European context, and the Natura 2000 network in particular, it is important to notice that there is a spectrum of more or less wild areas according to the intensity of human intervention. In that sense, wilderness is a relative concept which can be measured along a ‘continuum’, with wilderness at one end and marginal used land at the other. Re-wilding is a process to move areas up towards a wilder state, where the final stage is wilderness. This process is based on using natural processes for establishing sustainable and cost-effective management systems of Natura 2000 sites as a way to avoid recurring management activities. Applicants may consider this approach whenever the conditions would indicate this could be the most cost-effective approach to ensure the favourable conservation status of habitats and species. This would clearly not be a substitute to best practices currently used, but could be tested as a complementary way of biodiversity conservation for species and habitats identified in the Habitats and Birds Directives. Where relevant, applicants are invited to consider the guidelines mentioned above when preparing their proposals.

Natura 2000 is the largest network of protected areas in the world. Much of the network is privately owned. Making Natura2000 a success will only be possible through a wider active involvement of private owners and land users.

This issue has been analysed in two documents17 that provide detailed information on private land conservation in the EU comparing it to similar initiatives in other parts of the world.

Private land conservation is now one of the actions in the Action Plan for Nature, People and Economy18. Two LIFE Preparatory Projects19 have been financed and aim at further developing private land conservation initiatives and at setting up the European Land Conservation Network.

Applicants are invited to also consider private land conservation in their project design and to take stock of the experience and knowledge available. Coordination with the preparatory projects mentioned before should also be considered whenever relevant.

More than a half of bird and fish species listed in the Directives has been already considered in LIFE projects in the past. On the other hand, there is a large number of species among invertebrates, reptiles or vascular plants that have been widely unaddressed in projects so far.

In this context the applicants are invited to consider the recommendation of 2018 LIFE Platform meeting on Invertebrates which concluded that invertebrates were still not well represented in LIFE programme. It is recommended that such projects focus on habitat quality for the targeted species and on habitat connectivity in specific cases. In addition, these projects should always focus on improving public perception of invertebrates and communicate the importance of invertebrates for biodiversity and in terms of their functional role (e.g. pollination).

2.2 LIFE Nature
2.2.1 General scope and objectives

LIFE Nature projects aim to support the further development, implementation and management of the Natura 2000 network in particular by applying, developing, testing and demonstrating approaches, best practices and solutions.

Projects should be designed to provide EU added value in terms of coverage, conservation benefit, replicability, transferability and transnational scope.

With an area that is currently covering almost 18% of the terrestrial surface of the EU Member States, plus over 217,000 square kilometres of marine area, Natura 2000 is the central backbone for biodiversity in the European Union. However, even within the Natura 2000 network, a substantial part of flora, fauna and natural habitat types of Union interest, as defined by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, is still in an unfavourable conservation status. Natura 2000 is also at the heart of Europe's Green Infrastructure, providing benefits through multiple ecosystem services.

For the years to come, projects for improving the management and/or for restoring sites of the Natura 2000 network will therefore remain the first priority for LIFE Nature funding. The species and habitats targeted in LIFE Nature projects must be listed in the annexes of the EU Birds (2009/147/EC) and Habitats Directives (92/43/EEC).

LIFE Nature projects are usually focussed on concrete conservation measures and are result-oriented, i.e. their implementation must lead to direct and sustainable improvements of the conservation status of species and habitats for which sites are proposed or designated.

The eligibility of project actions under the LIFE Nature strand depends on the species and/or habitats targeted and can be distinguished as follows:

Site-based actions:

  •   Bird species targeted by site-based actions must be listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive or be regularly occurring migratory bird species.

  •   Any habitat types / species other than bird species targeted must be listed in Annexes I or II of the Habitats Directive. Site-based actions for Annex IV species not listed in Annex II may be possible under certain conditions (see section 2.4.3).

Species-related (i.e. not site-based) actions:

  •   Bird species targeted must be listed in Annex I or II of the Birds Directive or be regularly occurring migratory bird species.

  •   Any species other than bird species targeted must be listed in Annexes II, IV and/or V of the Habitats Directive.

 

2.2.2 Geographic scope

LIFE Nature projects must take place on the terrestrial and/or marine territory of the EU Member States where the EU Birds and Habitats Directives apply20. However, specific actions outside the Union may be financed as long as the applicant provides full details on why such actions are necessary for the achievement of the EU environmental objectives and to ensure the effectiveness of interventions carried out in the Member State territories to which the Treaties apply. Transnational cooperation is encouraged where it improves the effectiveness of EU-added value of the project actions.

2.2.3 Project topics

According to the LIFE multiannual work programme for 2018–2020, the following project topics contributing to Target 1 of the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 to fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives are given priority:

1. Improvement of the conservation status of habitat types or species of Community Interest21 under the EU Birds and Habitats directives, targeting Natura 2000 sites proposed or designated for these habitat types or species22.

2. Projects aimed at improving the conservation status of habitat types or species of Community Interest, provided, their status is not ‘favourable/secure and not declining’ or ‘unknown’ according to the most recent overall assessments that Member States have provided at the relevant geographic level according to Article 17 of the Habitats Directive or to the most recent assessments according to Article 12 Birds Directive and EU-level bird assessments.

3. Implementing the marine component of the Habitats and Birds Directives and related provisions under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive descriptor 1, where such projects focus on one or several of the following actions:
— completing and finalising national inventories for setting up the offshore marine Natura 2000 network of sites,

— restoration and management of marine Natura 2000 sites, including the preparation and implementation of site management plans,
— actions addressing species-, habitat- or site-related conflicts between marine conservation and fishermen or other ‘marine users’, as well as actions which combine conservation measures with a sustainable use of Natura 2000 sites, and/or

— demonstrative or innovative approaches to assess or monitor the impact of human activities on critical marine habitats and species and their application as a tool to guide concrete conservation measures.

Applicants should clearly explain whether and why their proposal falls under maximum two of these project topics.

 

This list does not exclude the possibility of submitting proposals for topics that are not listed above, but fall under the general remit and objectives of LIFE Nature. Note however that proposals that do not fall under the above project topics cannot receive points under the award criterion 5 'Contribution to the project topics' and are therefore less likely to be retained and financed than other eligible projects of comparable quality that are covered by one of the project topics. Be aware that in order to be considered as complying with one of the project topics, a proposal has to comply with the full list of requirements of the respective topic. Note that the maximum score (10) under award criterion 5 'Contribution to the project topics' will be awarded only to proposals that clearly and fully comply with at least one of the project topics; the indication of two project topics does not translate into higher scores. It is not possible to choose more than two project topics. By not choosing a project topic, the applicant declares that the proposal does not fulfil any of the project topics and acknowledges that no points can be awarded to the project under award criterion 5. Moreover, only the topics the applicant indicates will be considered. Whether or not the project possibly fits under some other topic that has not been marked will not be examined. For further details see the "Guide for the evaluation of LIFE project proposals 2019".

2.3 LIFE Biodiversity 2.3.1 General scope

LIFE Biodiversity projects must contribute to implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 targets and actions, with a view to achieving the objectives of the 2020 headline target of "halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss", other than those already covered by LIFE Nature.

LIFE Biodiversity projects must be compatible with national and/or regional strategies for biodiversity (where these exist).

Projects should be designed to provide EU added value in terms of coverage, conservation benefit, replicability, transferability and transnational scope.

If projects implementing Targets 2, 3, 4 and/or 5 of the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 take place (even partly) in Natura 2000 sites, the measures proposed must be in line with the site's conservation objectives, the site's management plan or equivalent instruments and/or the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designation act.

2.3.2 Geographic scope

LIFE Biodiversity projects generally take place on the terrestrial and/or marine territory of the EU Member States. This includes the French Overseas Departments (DOMs). However, actions outside the Union (including OCTs) may be financed as long as the applicant provides full details on why such actions are necessary for the achievement of the EU environmental objectives (e.g. actions to support the EU Biodiversity Strategy) and to ensure the effectiveness of interventions carried out in the Member State territories to which the Treaties apply.

 

 

2.3.3 Project topics

According to the LIFE Multiannual Work Programme for 2018-2020, the following project topics focusing on the implementation of Targets 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 are given priority:

1. Development and implementation of Green Infrastructure23 plans and actions improving the condition of ecosystems and the services they provide24 and/or the connectivity between Natura 2000 sites and/or other protected areas; or

Development and application of Green Infrastructure-related widely replicable methods and/or techniques that effectively mitigate the negative impacts of energy or transport infrastructure on biodiversity by enhancing connectivity. These techniques and/or methods should be more cost-effective than qualitatively equivalent solutions already offered on the market, and, where relevant, lead to free shared solutions or the development of technical standards.

2. Development and application of tools aimed at integrating biodiversity into financial and business decisions so as to ensure, through the conservation and restoration of biodiversity carried out during the project, no net loss of biodiversity and/or enhanced income delivering ecosystem services25.

3. Targeting threatened species or habitats that are not included in the annexes of the Habitats Directive but have a status of ‘endangered’ or worse in the European species26 or habitats27 Red Lists or, for those species not covered by the European Red Lists, in the IUCN Red List28.

4. Addressing Invasive Alien Species29 by testing and implementing the following three steps on an appropriate spatial scale within a comprehensive framework:

— preventing the introduction of invasive alien species, in particular by tackling the priority pathways of their introduction,

— establishing an early detection and rapid eradication system, and

— eradicating, controlling or containing established invasive alien species. The projects should be set up to improve existing — or introduce new — technical, administrative and/or legal frameworks on the relevant level, in particular in relation to, but not limited to, the species included on the list of invasive alien species of Union concern pursuant to Article 4(1) of the Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council30. Explanatory note: where a step has already been addressed independently of the project or it is not possible to address it in the project context, the project actions shall at least be clearly situated in a broader framework that links all three steps.

LIFE projects targeting Invasive Alien Species are encouraged to share their results and data with the official information system supporting the implementation of the Regulation 1143/2014, i.e. the European Alien Species Information Network31.

Applicants should clearly explain whether and why their proposal falls under maximum two of these project topics.

This list does not exclude the possibility of submitting proposals for topics that are not listed above, but falling under the general remit and objectives of LIFE Biodiversity. Note however that proposals that do not fall under these project topics will not receive points under the award criterion 5 'Contribution to the project topics' and are therefore unlikely to receive high overall scores. Be aware that in order to be considered as complying with one of the project topics, a proposal has to comply with the full list of requirements of the respective topic. Note that the maximum score (10) under award criterion 5 'Contribution to the project topics' will be awarded only to proposals that clearly and fully comply with the project topic chosen. It is not possible to choose more than two project topics. By not choosing a project topic, the applicant declares that the proposal does not fulfil any of the project topics and acknowledges that no points can be awarded to the project under award criterion 5. Moreover, only the topics the applicant indicates will be considered. Whether or not the project possibly fits under some other topic that has not been marked will not be examined. For details see the "Guide for the evaluation of LIFE project proposals 2019.

2.4 How to conceive a LIFE Nature or LIFE Biodiversity project proposal?

Projects are expected to be set up in such a way to ensure that potentially the key project actions are replicable or transferable and to pave the way for the actual replication or transfer of the solutions proposed, at the latest after the end of the project. Note that the potential to replicate or transfer project solutions elsewhere go beyond dissemination, transfer of knowledge, and networking. Please refer to sections 2.4.3 and 3.2.4 for more details on the type and description of the project actions.

2.4.1 Volume of concrete conservation actions (the "25%-rule")

At least 25% of the total eligible budget of a LIFE Nature or LIFE Biodiversity project must concern "concrete conservation" actions.

It is strongly advised that LIFE Nature and LIFE Biodiversity projects include significantly more than 25% concrete conservation actions (CCAs). During the evaluation of the proposal, certain actions may be considered ineligible and removed from the project. Furthermore the applicant may consider certain actions to be concrete, whereas the selection team may not (e.g. actions related to inventories, management guides, monitoring, stakeholder communication, etc are not considered a concrete action). If the percentage of concrete actions falls under 25%, the whole project may be rejected for that reason.

Project actions for concrete conservation must be clearly identifiable as such. They must be 100% concrete conservation and not a mix of concrete conservation with other activities, unless the budget allocated to the sub-actions is clearly identifiable.

What are concrete conservation actions?

In this context, "concrete conservation" actions are those that directly improve (or slow/halt/reverse the decline of) the conservation status / ecological condition of the species, habitats, ecosystems or ecosystem services targeted.

Preparatory actions (e.g. planning and preparation of the concrete conservation actions) and land purchase / lease / compensation payments count towards this 25% insofar as they are directly necessary for the execution of concrete actions during the project's lifetime.

Monitoring of reintroduced species will only be considered as concrete conservation if the monitoring can re-direct the course of the reintroduction action.

In exceptional circumstances, preventive measures (including monitoring) that are necessary to detect and prevent major threats that could severely affect the habitat or species targeted by the project, may be considered as concrete measures even if they do not improve the conservation status of the natural or semi-natural habitat, ecosystem or wild species targeted during the project lifetime. These exceptional circumstances will be considered to be fulfilled if:

- the proposal provides clear evidence (e.g. records of previous events, statistics, etc.) that the likelihood of the event to be prevented and the severity of its adverse effect on the natural or semi-natural habitat, ecosystem or wild species targeted are high;

- all necessary measures are put in place in the course of the project to ensure that the countermeasure against the adverse event are operational in the case it materialises and thoroughly tested at an appropriate scale;

- the beneficiary identifies and explains any negative impact of the preventive measures likely to affect the natural or semi-natural habitats, ecosystem or wild species;

- the beneficiaries commit themselves to continue maintaining and applying the mechanisms and measures developed for a period of at least 3 years after the project end.

Legal protection will only be considered as concrete conservation if it is fully achieved within the project duration.

 

Actions that aim to influence the behaviour of key stakeholders (e.g. farmers, hunters, fishermen, visitors) so as to indirectly benefit the site/species/habitats targeted, may only be considered as concrete conservation actions if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. a)  the inappropriate behaviour of the stakeholders in question is an important threat to the site/species/habitat targeted;

  2. b)  the action has as its main objective changing the behaviour of specified stakeholder groups in a specified way that will clearly benefit the habitat/species in a specified way;

  3. c)  the behaviour in question is foreseen to change during the project duration;

  4. d)  this action is sufficiently quantified (no of persons reached by the action, % whose behaviour will be favourably changed during the project, estimation if possible of favourable impact on the species/habitat targeted, ...);

  5. e)  this change is explicitly monitored by the project to check the results.

Visitor management actions (e.g. fences, trails) will only be considered as concrete conservation actions if the proposal can show that the visitors already directly have a negative impact on the conservation status of the habitats/species targeted.

Exceptions to the concrete conservation actions requirement

Proposals allocating less than 25% of their budget to concrete conservation actions will generally be considered ineligible. There are, however, two exceptions to this rule for LIFE Nature projects:

 Marine site designation projects: Projects for inventories and planning for the designation of new marine offshore Natura 2000 sites (either offshore or in territorial waters) or their extension do not need to include concrete conservation actions (for a definition of the term "offshore" within the context of Natura 2000 marine sites please refer to page 7 and to section 2.6 of the document "Guidelines for the establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the marine environment" - http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/marine/docs/marine_guidelines.p df). Any such proposal must, however, include a commitment from the Competent Ministry/Authority to designate the site(s) concerned as Natura 2000 sites before the end of the project and the Competent Authority must be a beneficiary of the project (coordinating or associated beneficiary). The designation of the site must be the subject of a specific action in the project, with the Competent Authority responsible for its implementation.

 Article 11 projects: LIFE Nature projects for the support and/or the further development of the surveillance of the conservation status of natural habitats and species covered by the Birds and Habitats Directives (in the sense of Article 11 of the Habitats Directive) do not have to include concrete conservation actions. In any such cases, the Competent Authority in charge of the Article 11 monitoring must be a beneficiary of the project (coordinating or associated beneficiary). Proposals for routine monitoring or for merely local improvement in monitoring will not be considered as qualifying for this exception.

2.4.2 Recurring activities for site or species management

A recurrent management action is an action that needs to be carried out periodically (at least annually) in order to maintain the conservation status of a species, habitat, or ecosystem.

 

In line with the general rule about ongoing actions (see section 1.6.12), ongoing recurrent actions are generally ineligible. For example, any site surveillance, periodic mowing or long- term monitoring actions, which were ongoing already before the start of the project, is generally ineligible.

New recurrent actions are, in principle, eligible for funding in LIFE Nature and LIFE Biodiversity projects. In particular recurring actions with a clear pilot demonstration value may be considered as eligible for funding.

However, projects foreseeing recurring actions must sufficiently demonstrate the long term sustainability and European added value of the proposed action. The applicant must therefore explicitly undertake that the project beneficiaries will continue after the project's end any recurrent actions started and carried out during the project, and explain how this continuation will be financed. The implementation of this commitment will be checked at the time of the final payment, when the Contracting Authority will verify that the recurring actions are still being undertaken at the required periodicity, or that all administrative and budgetary conditions are fulfilled to ensure their continuation at the appropriate time. If there is no such assurance that the recurrent action will be continued after the end of the project, all related costs will be ineligible.

2.4.3 Types of actions

When preparing your proposal, the following main types of eligible actions must be clearly distinguished:

  •   Preparatory actions (A Actions),

  •   Land purchase/lease of land and/or compensation payment for land use rights

  •   (B Actions),

  •   Conservation actions (C Actions),

  •   Monitoring and impact assessment of the project actions (D Actions),

  •   Communication and dissemination actions (E Actions),

  •   Project management and progress (F Actions).

To be taken eligible for funding, all actions must meet each of the following conditions:

  •   the need of the action has to be well justified in view of the objectives of the project; and

  •   the long-term sustainability of the investments must be guaranteed. Preparatory actions (A Actions)

As a general principle, all preparatory actions must produce practical recommendations and/or information that can be implemented and be used without requiring further preparatory work. Furthermore, where exceptionally preparatory actions do not lead to direct implementation during the project, the proposal must provide a sufficient set of explanations, commitments and guarantees to show that their full implementation after the project is effectively ensured. Most projects include preparatory actions.

Preparatory actions should:

  •  be clearly related to the objective(s) of the project;
  •   be significantly shorter than the project duration and end well before the end of the project;

  •   not be research actions, unless they fall under the exception described in point 1.6.14 of this Guide,

  •   not be inventories of new or existing Natura 2000 sites (except for new offshore marine sites).

Preparatory actions may for example include:

  •   Actions preparatory to the conservation actions of the project (technical planning, permit procedures, stakeholder consultations, etc.);

  •   Drafting Natura 2000 site management plans;

  •   Drafting, monitoring and reviewing strategic initiatives related to targets or actions of the Biodiversity Strategy (at trans-national, national, regional or local level) not focused on the Natura 2000 network;

  •   Developing conservation action plans for species/habitat types of the Birds and Habitats Directives;

  •   Developing action plans on Invasive Alien Species, in particular on pathways of introduction and spread, or development of surveillance and early warning plans;

  •   Preliminary studies required to improve the integrity and connectivity of the Natura 2000 network.

Where management plans, action plans, strategies or other similar plans are drafted or modified in the framework of a LIFE Nature or LIFE Biodiversity project, they must become legally operational before the end of the project. Therefore, in those Member States where a procedure for their legal adoption and/or approval exists, this procedure must be completed before the end of the project, otherwise, the related expenses will be ineligible. Applicants are therefore advised not to include actions to develop such plans unless they are certain that they will be legally operational before the end of the project. The applicant should include a timetable showing how and when the plans developed will become legally operational.

Land purchase/lease of land and/or compensation payment for use rights (B Actions)

This includes:

  •   the purchase of land and associated costs (e.g. notary expenses, taxes, etc.);

  •   the long-term lease of land and associated costs;

  •   one-off land use compensation payments and associated costs.

Note: Short term lease and/or compensation payments can only be eligible for funding if they serve for demonstration of pilot actions – see below.

Any land purchase payments, compensation payments or lease payments to public bodies are not eligible, with the exception of compensation or short-term lease payments to local authorities (i.e. municipalities or similar).

For the exception to be valid, it must be explicitly foreseen in the project and beneficiaries must demonstrate that it is the only cost-effective solution to reach the objectives of the project. Moreover, it is recommended that local authorities re-invest the income from such payments into conservation or public awareness-raising measures for Natura 2000 network or the Biodiversity Strategy. Those proposals which include a commitment from the local authorities in question to do so will be considered for a higher scoring on EU added value in the project evaluation process and may therefore have a higher chance of being selected for co-funding.

a) Land purchase

The eligibility of any costs for land purchase is subject to the conditions listed below. The applicant must address each of these conditions in his proposal, explaining how each condition is met or will be met during the project.

  1. (i)  The land purchase must be clearly related to the objectives of the project.

  2. (ii)  The land purchased must contribute to improving, maintaining or restoring the

    integrity of the Natura 2000 network.

  3. (iii)  The purchase is the only or most cost-effective way of achieving the desired

    conservation outcome.

  4. (iv)  The land purchased is reserved in the long-term for uses consistent with the objectives set out in Article 11 of the LIFE Regulation, through the most appropriate form of legal protection.

  5. (v)  The beneficiaries must ensure that the sales contract / notary act and/or entry in the land register includes a guarantee that the land is assigned definitively (without time limitation) to nature conservation purposes. Where both possibilities exist (sales contract and land registry entry), the beneficiaries must use the option that offers the strongest long-term protection. Note that at the latest with the final report, the beneficiaries will have to submit a copy of the sales contract and/or entry in the land register including the above mentioned guarantee. Should they fail to provide such documents, the corresponding land purchase costs and associated costs will be considered ineligible. For countries where it would be illegal to include such a guarantee in both the land register and in the sale contract, the Contracting Authority may accept an equivalent guarantee, provided it offers the same legal level of protection in the long term.

  6. (vi)  The land must be purchased by one of the project beneficiaries who is either a well- established private organisation (e.g. nature conservation NGO or other) or a public body with nature conservation responsibility, and must remain in its ownership after the end of the project.

  7. (vii)  The proposal must demonstrate that each beneficiary that will carry out land purchase has the necessary competence and experience in land purchase for nature conservation, and that the planned target is realistic within the time framework of the project.

  8. (viii)  If the purchasing body is a private organisation, its statutes must include a provision that, in case of dissolution, the land will be transferred to another legal body primarily active in the field of nature conservation (e.g. another conservation NGO or appropriate public body).

  9. (ix)  Evidence must be provided in the proposal that the purchase price is consistent with the current market prices for the type of land and the region concerned.

  10. (x)  Evidence must be provided that the land purchased was not owned by a public authority in the 24 months prior to the project application date.

  11. (xi)  Land purchased must be the subject, during the project, of specific restoration and/or active management or restrictions of use that go beyond legal obligations and existing restrictions that could not be imposed without purchasing the land. The purchase of land that is in excellent conservation status (i.e. that requires no restoration or specific management or restrictions of use) is only eligible if strategic to the objectives of the project.

b) Long-term land lease, purchase of rights and one-off compensation payments

The same conditions listed above apply, as and where appropriate, to these types of payments. The applicant must address each of these conditions in the proposal, explaining how each condition is met or will be met during the project. The duration of a lease must be sufficient to guarantee the durability of the conservation investment (e.g. 20 years or longer). See also the General Conditions of the Model LIFE Grant Agreement.

c) Short term land lease or temporary compensation payments

Land lease or compensation payments with a limited duration, within the project period, will only be eligible insofar as they are necessary for the demonstration of pilot actions favourable to the conservation status of the species, habitats or ecosystem targeted. Note that appropriate justification for the cost-effectiveness of short term lease payments (consistency with current market prices for the type of land and the region concerned) will have to be provided with the project's final report.

Conservation actions (C Actions)

Conservation actions must aim to directly improve (or slow/halt/reverse the decline of) the conservation status / ecological condition of the species, habitats, ecosystems or ecosystem services targeted. Their impact must be measurable and must be monitored and evaluated during the project.

The maintenance of the investments made through these actions must be ensured in the long-term after the end of the project. Amongst others, where actions take place on land that does not belong to any of the beneficiaries, they must establish a convention with the owner in which he/she commits not to take any action that would compromise the investments/restoration made by the project. This convention must be for a suitably long period (ideally 20 years or longer). The establishment of these conventions must appear explicitly in the description of the relevant action(s) and in the "expected results" section.

For the purpose of these guidelines site-based conservation actions are distinguished from species (non-site) related actions. Site-based actions are land-based actions carried out on a specific site, while non-site related actions are independent of a specific site. Nevertheless, some species-oriented conservation actions like reintroduction and translocation (see point d below) also have site-based elements.

a) Site-based conservation actions inside Natura 2000 sites:

For LIFE Nature projects, actions targeting bird species must take place within SPAs, actions targeting habitats or species of the Habitat Directives must take place within pSCIs/SCIs/SACs.

In LIFE Nature projects, actions targeting species and habitats not listed in a site's official Natura 2000 Standard Data Form (SDF) are ineligible. Applicants are advised to check this carefully. These SDFs can be viewed at http://natura2000.eea.europa.eu/ (note: this public site is updated generally within a couple of months of the Commission receiving data from the Member States, however in some cases it may take up to six months for the very latest information to be added). Where the species/habitats are in fact present but are not in the SDF, actions targeting them in that site can only be accepted if the proposal contains a letter of commitment from the competent authority to update the data sheet before the end of the project

For LIFE Nature projects, site-based conservation actions generally take place within existing designated Natura 2000 sites. LIFE Biodiversity projects may also include actions inside Natura 2000 sites.

For each Natura 2000 site targeted, the applicant should provide a general description and (in annex) a map of the site, indicating where each action is planned to take place. The project area will be the whole of the Natura 2000 site(s) targeted by the project (it is thus unnecessary to further delimit a project area within the Natura 2000 site, unless there are specific reasons for doing so).

Applicants are advised to check that the perimeters on their maps correspond to those on the EU Natura 2000 viewer available to the public (http://natura2000.eea.europa.eu).

b) Site related actions outside of Natura 2000 sites, for improving the ecological coherence / connectivity of the Natura 2000 network:

These may be included in projects if each of the following conditions is met:

  1. (i)  Evidence is provided that the investments foreseen contribute to an "improvement of the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network";

  2. (ii)  A guarantee is provided for the long-term continuation of these investments, in the form of a commitment for giving these sites the most appropriate legal or contractual protection status before the end of the project, i.e. in the proposal the applicant must provide detailed information on the proposed protection status and explain why it is considered as being sufficient for securing the long-term sustainability of the investments;

  3. (iii)  The national Natura 2000 network of sites is considered as sufficient for the species/habitats targeted by the project.

Exceptionally, protected area status is not required for sites where an infrastructure will be located that act as animal migration corridors (e.g. eco-ducts, fish passes) that would enhance the possibilities for the migration of animals, if each of the following conditions is fulfilled:

  1. (i)  In the proposal the applicant explains how the species population targeted already benefits from an appropriate Natura 2000 site designation of their main breeding, feeding and/or resting areas;

  2. (ii)  In the proposal the applicant provides evidence that the future use and maintenance of the infrastructure is backed by an appropriate land use planning at the most relevant administrative level.

c) Other site-based conservation actions outside Natura 2000

 

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