One of the actions of our project LIFE Capacity Building Slovenia is also study visits of National Contact Points (NCP) of other member states. The aim of these visits is to exchange experience and best practices with the implementation of LIFE programme. Therefore we visited last week our Polish colleagues.

The first day of the visit, 26th October 2016, we spent at the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, which is responsible for the implementation of the LIFE programme in Poland and is also performing a capacity building project (LIFE14 CAP/PL/000011). Since the colleagues from Croatian NCP were visiting them at the same within their capacity building project (LIFE14 CAP/HR/000014), we had a joint meeting. At the beginning the host presented the Fund, which not only provides consultancy but also financial support. To applicants they offer project co-financing (form A6), while beneficiaries of the projects already approved by the European Commission can apply for a loan. Afterwards all NCP representatives exchanged their experience on the implementation of LIFE programme and LIFE capacity building projects. We came to a conclusion we face similar problems in enhancing the interest of potential applicants for submission of a project proposal to the LIFE Calls, while we all aim to improve the performance of our countries in obtaining LIFE funds. In addition to exchange of ideas and joint search for possible solutions, the meeting also enabled networking. Both teams were in fact handed a brochure of Slovenian LIFE projects and a list of Slovenian organizations that have expressed an interest in international cooperation.

The following day, 27th October 2016, our team visited “Błędów Desert (Polish pustynia Błędowska)”, a Natura 2000 site in the south of Poland, which is the largest sandy area with natural dunes in Central Europe not situated by the sea. The desert is a project area of two LIFE projects:

  • LIFE+ Pustynia Błędowska – Active conservation of priority sand habitats complex (6120, 2330) in the Natura 2000 site Błędowska Desert (LIFE09 NAT/PL/000259) – concluded, and
  • LIFE MILITARY HABITATS PL – The integrated conservation of non-forest natural habitat on military area in Natura 2000 site (LIFE12 NAT/PL/000031) – in progress.

At the project area the hosts represented the current project, LIFE Military habitats PL. The coordinating beneficiary of the project is Polish army, since it uses the area as a military training ground. During our visit the army performed parachuting exercise. The area serves as a military training ground since the time of World War 2. Therefore one of the most important project activities was removal of explosives and dangerous substances, in order to ensure safe removal of trees, which overgrown the area and threatened the existence of the complex of two habitat types: 6120 –  Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates and 2330 – Inland dunes with open Corynephorus and Agrostis grasslands. The project is a very interesting example of the mutual interests of two different sectors such as the army and the nature protection as it is in the interest of both to prevent overgrowth of the semi-natural habitat. After visiting the project area we visited an educational room, which was set up in the framework of the project LIFE+ Pustynia Błędowska. The room is located on the premises of the Municipality of Klucze, the coordinating beneficiary of the project.