Project acronym: AQUAVIVA
Project reference: LIFE10 INF/SI/000135
Year of financing: 2010
Priority area: Environmental Governance & Information
Coordinating beneficiary: LUTRA, Inštitut za ohranjanje naravne dediščine
Layman's report: LIFE10_INF_SI_000135_ANG.pdf
Rewarded project: Yes

With effective campaign and innovative approach, the project aims to attract public attention to biodiversity loss of freshwater ecosystems. We will affect public attitude using flagship species – the otter (Lutra lutra) as a representative of aquatic life and relate water biodiversity with human treatment of water environment. The necessity of preserving freshwater ecosystems as the living environment of different species as well as for everyday ecosystems services available to humanity will be promoted. The project will support implementation of European environmental policy and nature conservation legislation and, furthermore, expose their mutual positive impacts. The principles of integrated water resources management and its meaning for conservation of biodiversity will be presented to target audience.

Project objectives:

1. Rising public awareness on the importance of biodiversity for our existence, emphasizing its intrinsic value, with special focus on freshwater biodiversity.
2. Through information, communication and education at all levels rising attitude towards water environment and improving everyday praxis.
3. Improving knowledge and public acceptance for the implementation of EU Habitats, Bird and Water Framework Directives in praxis and illustrating their mutual protecting activity.
4. Explaining and supporting the instrument of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) by assistance of the otter (Lutra lutra) as a top predator and an ambassador of freshwater habitats and biodiversity thus providing enough information for responsible public participation.
5. Through communication activities and advertising campaign supporting the goals of Countdown 2010 and beyond (to stop biodiversity loss till 2020), following the goal of International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR): improved water quality in Danube River and its tributaries till the year 2015.

Key information / messages to be passed to target audience:

In the project communication activities we are using the advantage of flagship species, the otter – an ambassador of freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity – to pass to target audience several important messages in form of slogans:

  • Water is the most precious natural resource in the planet; it is important not only for humankind but also for other living organisms, especially those living in water habitats. Think of that when opening a tap.
  • Rich biodiversity means life quality. Rich biodiversity of water habitats means water quality.
  • Integrated Water Resources Management means life for aquatic organisms, represented by Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). It is only the “tip of the iceberg” of water biodiversity, sometimes hidden under the mysterious figure of “water sprite”.
  • What we are doing by the source of the river, is reflecting in its mouth. Seven stones are not sufficient to clean the waste water of modern human and stop freshwater biodiversity loss.


A1 – Project management
A2 – Monitoring of the project progress
A3 – After-LIFE Communication plan – The model of communication project will be applicable to the whole Danube River Basin and beyond, with adaptations will be useful in any other river basins where integrated water management system will be applied.
A4 – Otter and water networking – An European network of otter- and water centres will be established to share and exchange promotional and educational materials in fields of nature conservation and protection of water.
C1 – Junk exhibitions – The project team will join spring water cleaning actions organized by local communities, environmental NGOs and volunteers; from waste material collected we will prepare a “warning exhibition” to rise public awareness and show the threats to aquatic biodiversity.
C2 – Advertising campaign for conservation of freshwater ecosystems and stop the biodiversity loss – Different innovative and modern approaches will be used to target the widest public with key messages for conservation of freshwater biodiversity and preservation of water resources; the otter as a flagship species will be used as an ambassador of freshwater biodiversity. Art competition will engage schoolchildren, buses will be covered with “water biodiversity” design, riverbanks in the cities will be enriched by exhibitions and other promotional activities, pottery badges will be made etc.
C3 – Communication Workshops – Workshops joint to different traditional events (exhibitions, fairs, river celebrations etc.) will be organized for biodiversity and water protections topics coming to public, to discuss with people and to gather and change their attitude toward related topics. Notabilities from public life will be invited to spread the conservation ideas.
C4 – Nature education days – Vidrarije (Otter Stuff) – Events to bring learning about nature conservation out of classroom and to the nature will be organized, where pupils can communicate with experts of nature science and nature interpretation. Nature education days will be held in countryside, in local environment on chosen river, lake or stream.
C5 – On-line communication activities on project web site and social networks (facebook, twitter etc.) will provoke people to share their opinion about related nature conservation topics represented by facts.
C6 – Infopoints in Technical Museum of Slovenia (Ljubljansko barje) and in Aqualutra Centre (Goričko) with outdoor demonstration models to show water flow and retention of water in the landscape under different circumstances – natural and degraded. Together with traditional techniques of water use it will be presented also in the leaflet and on the information board.
F1 – Project website – A website devoted to the project AQUAVIVA will be designed”. All project activities will be uploaded shortly after their accomplishment.
F2 – LIFE+ information boards – Different types of information boards with relevant project information will be created depending on their application, altogether 6.
F3 – Layman’s report – A report containing short text in popular style about project activities and results will be prepared, designed and printed in two languages. A selection of best graphic products originating out of project will be added for documentation of results. To make best products of the campaign available to other users (also international) a DVD with open data will be available.
F4 – Final event with press-conference and Slovenian first LIFE project meeting will be organized at the conclusion of the project. All Slovenian LIFE projects conducted so far and additional LIFE projects related to waters, freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity from neighbouring countries will be invited to meet and exchange their opinion and experiences and to present their results.
E1 – Project impact monitoring – Public awareness on freshwater biodiversity and its conservation as well as of public attitude towards environmental and nature conservation problems will be tested in the beginning and at the conclusion of the project. The difference in results will show the project success.

The AQUAVIVA project improved public awareness of freshwater ecosystems in Slovenia. An extensive advertising campaign highlighted the issue of biodiversity loss using different media, ranging from eye-catching external bus covers, LCD displays inside buses and shopping centres, and ongoing mobile exhibitions, through to project products such as “retap bottles” and notebooks. Two large outdoor exhibitions were prepared in Ljubljana – one about diatoms from the river Ljubljanica and another about water biodiversity and conservation. Demonstration models representing three levels of biodiversity were permanently exhibited in two other public indoor locations in Slovenia. Three sculptures manufactured from junk found in the rivers were also permanently erected in different locations near rivers.

Innovative approaches to communicating biodiversity issues in freshwater ecosystems were effective at raising awareness among the general public, and particularly among the key target youth age group. In addition to the models and waste material sculptures, and giant photos of micro-organisms, the knitwear designer Draž was inspired by the outdoor ‘Diatoms in Ljubljana’ exhibition and named his spring/summer 2014 collection “DIATOMEA”; Draž and the connected Slovene shoe factory Alpina will continue with this nature conservation theme in their next collections. The novel, for a nature conservation project, use of highly-visible bus covers reached a wide audience and proved to be a particularly cost-effective method with a high demonstration value.

Educational activities included 30 communication workshops and 59 education days, for the general public and schoolchildren, which reached more people than initially proposed.

Coordinating beneficiary LUTRA Institute delivered project outcomes in collaboration with associated beneficiaries IzVRS, a specialised professional management and engineering organisation of fresh and maritime waters, and HOPA, a company working in the field of communication, advertising and production.

The measurement of project impact in a public opinion survey in September 2014 showed that awareness about biodiversity and its loss was raised by 34% from 2007 to 2014. Besides, 71% of the respondents agreed with the statement that “biodiversity loss is a serious problem”.

The project beneficiary LUTRA Institute was invited to take part on the Sava River Basin Commission, to participate in the newly established Sava Water Council, where it can influence local decisions relating to the prevention of pollution, maintaining favourable status of Natura 2000 network sites, and trans-boundary impacts. These issues are crucial for the long-term conservation of the Sava River Basin. However, a range of external factors prevented the project from influencing national policy and legislation. At the European level, the project helped implement a range of policy and legislation, including the Habitats, Birds and Water Framework directives, and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) methods, with the European otter being an effective flagship species in the latter case.

The After LIFE communication plan includes a continuation of advertising as one of the strongest activities, with participation in different national events foreseen, as well as at Green Week in Brussels. The demonstration models will continue to link the project with visitors at the National Technical Museum in Bistra and at the information centre of the Goričko Landscape Park.

Applicant: LUTRA, Institute for Conservation of Natural Heritage (private non-profit institute)
Partners: Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia; HOPA, House of printing and advertasing d.o.o.
Cofinancers: Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment;  HSE Holding Slovenske elektrarne d.o.o.
Project budget:  548.141 €
EC financial contribution: 235.314 € ( = 43 % of total eligible budget)
Duration: from 1/9/2011 until 31/8/2014