LIFE is a financing program of the EU-Commission. Especially nature conservation actions in special sites (-> Natura 2000) are supported. The program started in 1992 and continues (at the moment) until 2013. Projects applying for financial support undergo a selection process in an European wide contest. Only 1/3 of all applying projects is usually selected and reach an average of 50% cofinancing rate.  Projects run in average 4 years, costs for manager, studies, monitoring and awareness rising are included. The main focus is on hard actions on the ground as restoration of woodland (New Forest/UK), meadows (dry Grasslands/Germany) or other habitats; changes of hydrology as: water course renaturalisation (river Theiss in Austria), bog restoration (De Wieden and De Weerribben, Netherland); species protection as reintroduction of animals (Lynx in Spain).

See LIFE database for more project information.

LIFE means life, but it is also an abbreviation of the original French title of the programme: Linstrument financie de l’environment = LIFE.

LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU, as well as in some candidate, acceding and neighbouring countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 2,750 projects, contributing approximately €1.35 billion to the protection of the environment.

LIFE-Nature specifically contributes to the implementation of the Habitats directive (92/43/EEC) and Birds directives (79/409/EEC) and, in particular, the Natura 2000 European network. The two other components of this programme, LIFE-Environment and LIFE-Third Countries, focus respectively on demonstrating innovative environmental techniques and on environmental capacity building in countries bordering the Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. LIFE, the Financial Instrument for the Environment, introduced in 1992, is one of the spearheads of the European Union's environmental policy. It co-finances projects in three areas:

  • LIFE-Nature works to conserve natural habitats and the wild fauna and flora of European Union interest, according to the Birds and Habitats directives, thus supporting implementation of the European Union's nature conservation policy and the Natura 2000 Network.
  • LIFE-Environment aims to implement Community policy and legislation on the environment in the European Union and candidate countries. This approach enables demonstration and development of new methods for the protection and the enhancement of the environment.
  • LIFE-Third Countries concerns technical assistance activities for promoting sustainable development in third countries (Israel, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina up to Belarus. This component of the programme supports the development of environmental management capacities, both for our administrative partners outside the Union and for companies and NGOs in those countries.

LIFE III: The current LIFE III program is equipped with 955 Mill Euro. This project (BaltCoast) is financed by LIFE III.

The legal basis is: Council and Parliament Regulation (EC) No.: 1655/2000 of the 17th of July 2000 concerning the Financial instrument for the Environment (L’instrument financie de l’environment) (LIFE) which repeals Regulation (EEC) No. 1973/92.


The successor “LIFE+” runs from 2007-2013 with a budget of approximately €2.1 billion. The LIFE+ program has been approved in 2007 after several negotiations between Member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament.