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Slovakia’s LIFE ENERGY team wins the 2021 LIFE Award for Nature

A project from Slovakia is one of the winners of the 2021 LIFE Awards announced by the EU’s LIFE programme during the EU Green Week.

The LIFE Awards recognise the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in three categories: nature protection, environment and climate action. Slovakia’s LIFE ENERGY team was the winner of the Nature category. An expert jury looked at the 15 finalists and chose the three winners, who all demonstrated an outstanding contribution to environmental, economic and social developments. They also showed excellence in impact, replicability, policy relevance, cross-border cooperation and cost-effectiveness.

“The climate and biodiversity crises are more present than ever, but this year’s LIFE project finalists provide hope and inspiration for future solutions,” said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. “Conserving natural habitats and protecting wildlife are essential to our green recovery and our journey to climate neutrality.”

“I would like to congratulate all the LIFE Awards 2021 finalists and winners,” added Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. “LIFE projects are a stellar example of people working together each and every day to address the most pressing global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss. LIFE projects combine technology, innovation, expertise, cooperation, but above all lots of dedication to deliver smart solutions. I wish you all continued success.”

The LIFE ENERGY project put a stop to many birds colliding with power lines. The team installed 8,600 bird flight diverters along 77 kilometres of the most dangerous areas. These diverters protect 700 birds from collisions every year. The team also planted 550 trees to enhance existing wind breaks, helping the birds to see power lines better.

The problem of collisions with electricity power lines was identified as a significantly negative threat to endangered bird species in Slovakia. Systematic survey and prevention of such collisions was not part of any conservation effort in the country to date. The LIFE ENERGY project targeted 10 bird species listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, all of which breed in the 13 Natura 2000 network sites in the project areas. These areas include migration routes, feeding habitats and roosting places.

European ground squirrel. Source: LIFE ENERGY.

Prevention of collisions of birds with electricity power wires was the most important part of the project, through the installation of bird flight diverters, restoration of windbreaks and other measures, though other bird population supporting activities will also be performed, such as increasing food resources. The projects main objectives were: to reinforce conservation measures focused on the 10 priority bird species and their habitats; to formulate a conceptual solution to the problem of bird collisions with power lines and to prepare a strategic document; to strengthen cooperation with electric companies through the implementation of project activities; and to increase the number of European ground squirrel or suslik (Spermophilus citellus) in two areas.

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