The European Commission has approved funding for 248 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the EU's environment fund — including a €2.6 million project by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to protect endangered habitats on the three Aran Islands.
Inishmaan, Inishmor and Inisheer have a rich natural heritage and are designated conservation sites. But despite this protected status, the landscape on the Aran Islands is under threat.
Land has been abandoned and the limestone pavement is disappearing under scrub. The Aran project will work to improve the conservation status of the islands and achieve sustainable management of its renowned habitats (limestone pavement, orchid-rich calcareous grasslands and machair ).
Half the money will come from the European Commission and the other half is national co-funding. [See below for more details and contact point]
LIFE+ supports environmental projects in several fields across all EU member states: nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy, and information and communication on environmental issues across all EU member states. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €556.4 million, of which the EU will provide €281.4 million.
EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potonik said: “The LIFE+ programme continues to provide vital funding for innovative projects. These new projects will make a big contribution to protecting, conserving and enhancing Europe’s natural capital. They will support the goal of turning the EU into a resource efficient, greener and more competitive low-carbon economy.”
EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard said: "I am happy to see confirmed this year that an ever rising share of LIFE projects is going to contribute to climate action. And we want to improve this even more: The new LIFE programme from 2014 to 2020 will foresee over €850 million dedicated to climate action. This will roughly triple the amount which is spent on climate action."
The Commission received 1,159 applications in response to its latest call for proposals, which closed in September 2012.