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Overall objectives of the project

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Since 1992, the LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for environment, nature and climate action. In 2014, the so-called “Integrated Projects” were introduced to be able to implement environmental legislation and goals on a wider scale and to increase the impact of the LIFE programme. They provide funding for plans, programmes and strategies developed on the regional, multi-regional or national level. The integrative approach considers additional problem areas beyond nature and environmental aspects (e.g. climate change and sustainable use of resources). Furthermore, Integrated Projects must utilise additional EU funds (e.g. ERDF/EAFRD) or further national or private funding sources. Therefore, one important aim is to mobilize external funding.

The LIFE IP “Atlantic Sand Landscapes” is the first Integrated Project in Germany within the LIFE priority area “Nature and Biodiversity”. With this project, the federal states North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony aim at contributing to turn the tide regarding the loss of species diversity and important landscapes across the federal states. A significant contribution for the achievement of target 1 of the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy in the German part of the Atlantic biogeographical region shall be made in particular: The conservation statuses of 34 percent of the habitat types and 26 percent of the species within the Habitats Directive shall be changed into favourable conservation status or at least show a significant improvement. As a consequence, future reports on the Habitats Directive should show an improved conservation status for 100 percent more habitats and 50 percent more species compared to the 2013 report. For this target the Project consists of two pillars:

The first pillar is to develop and support a methodological conceptual approach to achieving target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and to implementing the German Prioritised Action Frameworks (PAF) in all federal states of the Atlantic Region. In Germany, the individual federal states are responsible for nature conservation. In order to draw the attention to nature conservation successes at the national and/or biogeographic levels, it is useful to jointly develop a methodological conceptual approach at this higher level. This means a roadmap will be developed how this can be achieved for all habitat types and species of the Atlantic region (excluding coastal habitats and marine organisms). 


The second pillar of the Project is the implementation of concrete actions for improving the conservation statuses with a focus on Natura 2000 sites in sand landscapes in North Rhine-Westphalia and in Lower Saxony and thus shall yield improvements on the ground. Thereby, the results of the first pillar are already directly incorporated into the implementation of the Project, as a basis for the selection of the required implementation actions is laid.

In both federal states the focus of the implementation actions is set on 15 habitat types and ten species of the Atlantic Region. For the first project phase (from end of 2016 until mid-2019), 98 implementation actions have been planned, of which 26 are situated in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Gruppenfoto mit EU-LIFE-Fahne

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Public relations

Another important aim is to raise public awareness for the loss of biodiversity in the region and to illustrate the actions which are required for the reversal of this trend. The acceptance for the implementation actions shall be increased and eventual differences in interests of parties involved shall be mediated.  

Start of the Project

The official kick-off for the LIFE IP took place on 20th April 2017 in the launch event in Ibbenbüren with the environment ministers of both federal states as well as the President of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). On this occasion, Prof. Beate Jessel stressed the nationwide importance of the Project with its exemplary approach for implementing the PAF in Germany.

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