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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article19 June 2023European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency2 min read

LIFE Awards 2023 Winners Highlight: Nature Protection

The LIFE Nature Award honours outstanding projects aimed at protecting and restoring Europe’s nature.

LIFEAwards23 - Luchs Pfalzerwald
European Union, 2023

The LIFE Nature Award honours outstanding projects aimed at protecting and restoring Europe’s nature.
The LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald project was announced as the winner in this category by Eleonora de Sabata, marine journalist and photographer and communications manager of Clean Sea LIFE - LIFE Awards 2022 Environment and Citizens’ Prize winner. ‘The biggest contribution of the nominated projects was to rewild people,’ she said. ‘And making local stakeholders remember that we are citizens of the natural world.’

The lynx (Lynx lynx carpathicus) disappeared from the Rhineland-Palatinate area in the 18th century. Ahead of this project, the closest population to the Pfälzerwald/Palatinate Forest was in the Southern Vosges, France. LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald successfully reintroduced the Eurasian lynx to the Palatinate Forest in Germany, establishing a reproducing population, which involved releasing 20 lynxes and monitoring their migration and breeding. It fostered stakeholder cooperation, increased lynx acceptance, and developed management plans and connectivity guidelines.  

‘The Eurasian lynx once populated huge areas in Europe, and together with LIFE, we managed to build another nucleus that’s spreading already,’ said Jochen Krebühl, Executive Director at Stiftung Natur und Umwelt Rheinland-Pfalz. ‘To receive the LIFE Award is a huge recognition of this outstanding cooperation with the people and organisations behind this reintroduction program.’ 

Increasing public acceptance of the lynx in the Palatinate Forest was a challenge. Thanks to excellent stakeholder involvement, Alsace and Lorraine's regions established consultancy and assistance for livestock owners. Stakeholders, especially hunters, shepherds and other livestock owners, cooperated through national and transboundary 'lynx parliament meetings'.
In addition, the project contributes to the implementation of the Habitats Directive. The population established is expected to serve as a stepping-stone, interlinking other lynx populations, which will impact the overall conservation status of this species. The newly founded lynx and wolf centre in Rhineland-Palatinate, KLUWO, will ensure that work continues the project's activities beyond its duration. 

Also, the mobilisation of additional funds allowed a large lynx enclosure to be built, which is dedicated to rescued orphans. 

Nature winner - LIFE Awards 23
European Union, 2023


The two other outstanding finalists in the Nature Protection category were LIFE IAS Free Habitats, a project about the protection of the natural forest and grassland habitat in Bulgaria, and LIFE Lech, a project conserving the natural dynamics of the Lech River in Südtirol, Austria. 

LINK TO VIDEO AWARDS WEBSTREAM EU GREEN WEEK 2023 - Streaming Service of the European Commission ( 

LIFE Awards 2023 | Nature: LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald 


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