Preserving the biological diversity of Europe is of particular concern to the European Union. To conserve natural habitats and the animals and plants that live there, a network of ecologically valuable reserves have been created within the EU member states under the “Natura 2000” banner. The “Rhine bend in Orsoy in the Lower Rhine bird sanctuary” forms part of this network and thus part of Europe’s natural heritage.
Two European laws, the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive, provide the legal basis for conservation at a European level. In Germany, the federal states are responsible for implementing these directives and for maintaining and managing Natura 2000 areas. In turn, they assign some of their responsibilities to the administrative districts. In North Rhine Westphalia, at least 500 Special Areas of Conservation are included in the Natura 2000 network, making up 5.4% of the state’s land area.
With 27 areas totalling 11,900 hectares (11.4% of the district’s land area), the Wesel district has a clear responsibility.
The Biologische Station im Kreis Wesel has assumed this responsibility and has applied for subsidies from the European LIFE conservation fund for this purpose. From 2013 to 2018 conservation measures were implemented in the Natura 2000 area DE-4405-303 „Rheinvorland im Orsoyer Rheinbogen“.
What is LIFE?
LIFE is the European Union’s financial instrument supporting environmental and conservation projects. It is one of the most important tools for promoting environmental policy within Europe. The letters stand for the French term ‘L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement’, or in English, ‘the financing instrument for the environment’.
The LIFE-Nature strand supports nature conservation work that aims to maintain or restore natural habitats and populations of endangered wild plants and animals.
Within the EU, it is typical for LIFE subsidies to be paid out in specific phases. The period applying for our project ran from 2007-2013 and was named LIFE+, having been preceded by LIFE I to III. The most recent phase runs from 2014 to 2020.
“Rhine bend in Orsoy in the Lower Rhine bird sanctuary” is one of 19 LIFE projects running in North Rhine Westphalia in the period LIFE+ and is 50% financed by the LIFE+ programme.