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Best LIFE Nature Projects 2007-2008

This is the first year that we have made a selection of LIFE Nature projects that have proven to be exemplary in their area of work. Following an initial review carried out by its external monitoring team, the European Commission selected the 26 most outstanding LIFE Nature projects completed by 2008. The Member States and the external monitoring team then reviewed these 26 'best' projects to select a top five based on the following criteria:
- Short-term conservation status improvement (max 30 points);
- Short-term leverage effect (additional resources mobilised) (max 10 points);
- Long-term sustainability of improved conservation status (max 30 points);
- Long-term leverage effect (max 20 points);
- Long-term regional / national / international Impact (max 10 points).
These five 'Best of the Best' (BoB) projects can be held up as models for others as to what constitutes a successful, welldesigned and well-executed LIFE Nature project. The BoB projects have targeted a broad range of endangered species and habitats across several Member States - a fitting
tribute to the diverse and wide-ranging work of LIFE Nature to improve the conservation status of endangered species and natural habitats, and to support the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the Natura 2000 network. The BoB project activities included: the reintroduction of rabbits in Andalusia to increase the population of the highly endangered Iberian lynx; conservation of priority bird species (Dalmatian pelican and pygmy cormorant) in Lake Mikri Prespa, Greece; conservation of the Hungarian meadow viper - Europe's most endangered snake; improvement of coastal habitats for waders in Finland by cutting overgrown reed beds and reintroducing grazing with the support of the local population and farmers; and the restoration of Finland's boreal forests to increase biodiversity. Julijana Lebed Lozej of the Slovenian Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning took on the delicate work of co-ordinating this selection process. I would like to thank her and all the colleagues from the Member States and external monitoring teams who evaluated the contenders. I would also like to thank the project beneficiaries and their partners for their excellent work in favour of nature conservation. To shine a spotlight on the top five, the European Commission's LIFE Unit organised a well- attended award presentation during
Green Week in Brussels, on the 24th June 2009. The higher profile that the best LIFE Nature projects receive through these awards ensures that more people know about the LIFE programme and the projects it co-finances. I am confident that these awards will continue to grow in stature and range
in the coming years.