Perhaps the one good thing to have come out of the pandemic is that more people are aware of how important nature and biodiversity are for our planet.
With this in mind, here are some Christmas-themed LIFE projects that are protecting and enhancing life on Earth.
Securing a reindeer’s reign
Reindeers are a global symbol of Christmas, but sadly they are threatened due to multiple collisions with cars. They are also often attacked by other large carnivores. There are only around 2 000 Finnish forest reindeer left in the country and not many more are in Russia.
But all is not lost. The WildForestReindeerLIFE project is reintroducing the animals to their native habitat. The team has so far released 39 deer back into the wild and this will continue throughout 2021.
In other good news, two calves were born in Seitseminen national park in May to adult females released by the project. 12 calves were also born in captive breeding enclosures in the Seitseminen and Lauhanvuori national parks, taking the total number of calves born under the project to 33. The team’s goal is to reach 50 by 2023.
Making “wine time” more sustainable
Many of us will be enjoying a glass of wine over the festive period and people in Spain are no different. In fact, the country’s Catalonia region produces around 180 million wine bottles and 200 million Cava bottles each year. But only 57% of these are recycled. The rest is sent to landfill.
For 20 months, the reWINE project team trialled wine bottle collection, cleaning and reuse across the region. Seven wineries, 30 shops, 50 restaurants, two wholesalers, three waste collection centres and two bottle washing plants all took part.
The team estimates that reusing the 82 000 bottles collected during the trial has saved more than 170 000 kg of CO2. This is equivalent to the emissions from a vehicle travelling around the world 11 times. The team also claims that reusing bottles could reduce Catalonia’s wine-making sector's carbon footprint by up to 28%.
From isolation to integration
Each year, people from across the world send letters to Santa Claus in Lapland, the northern tip of Finland. But a seal native to the country also needs some global attention.
The Saimaa Seal became isolated in Finland's largest lake 8 000 years ago after the ice age. It is one of the rarest seals in the world and it remains on the verge of extinction.
A new LIFE project called Our Saimaa Seal wants to grow the seal’s population by 5% over the next three years. To do this, it will develop better health and population monitoring tools. The team will also build artificial nests for the seals to live in and set up nature protection areas in essential breeding grounds.
Road management with a twist
Over the coming weeks and months, roads across Europe will likely become icy as temperatures plummet. This will see many tonnes of grit, which comprises unsustainable mined salts, being dispersed in danger areas.
Maintaining roads also generates a lot of bio-waste from mowing the grass on the roadsides.
The team behind the Dutch Grass2Grit project aims to process this grass to obtain a juice that can be used for de-icing roads. Fibres will also be extracted from the grass to make bio-based road furniture like road signs.
And by mowing the grass in winding paths and at different times, there will be more of it left for butterflies, bees and birds - this will boost biodiversity.
- Publication date
- 18 December 2020
- Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises