LIFE-Nature awards prove rural investment pays off
On Tuesday 31 May, the best projects helping keep our countryside healthy and productive will be awarded for their outstanding contribution in nature conservation.On Tuesday 31 May, the best projects helping keep our countryside healthy and productive will be awarded for their outstanding contribution in nature conservation.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 — During Green Week 2016, the best LIFE-Nature projects will be announced for two categories: Nature & Biodiversity and Environment & Information. At the Egg in Brussels, DG Environment’s Deputy Director General Joanna Drake will present the worthy winners with their awards.
Ahead of the event, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said:
“The LIFE-Nature awards show that investing in nature is money well spent. Each finalist helps protect its region’s environment which in turn safeguards local jobs as well as attracting thousands of tourists. The more we invest the more we see the returns that show how the environment and the economy can be sustainably integrated".
Whether it’s providing food, clean water, healthy soils or climate moderation, the economic benefits of the Natura 2000 network alone are estimated to be in the range of EUR 200-300 billion per year; while around 4.4 million jobs in the EU directly depend on healthy ecosystems.
Industries such as forestry and agriculture, which together cover 80 % of the EU land mass, thrive in a healthy environment. Farms that incorporate biodiversity can utilise ecological services such as healthier soils, better pollination, and biological pest control. All of which reduce the need, and costs, of artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Increasing biodiversity has also been shown to improve productivity in farms which will help feed future populations with a sustainable and secure food supply.
Investing in green infrastructure also maintains nature’s capital, for instance in mitigating against the negative effects of climate change, which is far more cost-effective than man-made technological solutions. Between 1990-2010, Europe lost EUR 300 billion due to storms and floods, but by investing in key green infrastructure, like forests that act as carbon sinks or healthier soils that retain water, further damages can be avoided.
The principle source of financing sustainable management of natural resources is the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) while the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) and Horizon 2020 help to promote sustainable farming practices. Nature conservation is supported by the EU funded LIFE-Nature projects which aim to keep our countryside healthy and productive for years to come.
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