b_0_200_16777215_00___images_life_2015-10-01b.JPGThe LIFE program is the European financial instrument financing projects in the field of environmental protection and nature conservation, in particular concerning the protection of Natura 2000. It is an unusual program, since the decisions to grant funding for projects are made directly by the European Commission. Its financial and technical structure is also a bit different than the rest of the EU funds. Hence, there has been a growing need among the beneficiaries implementing LIFE projects in Poland to meet and discuss best practices as well as the problems that you may encounter when working on the implementation of LIFE projects. To meet this need Kampinoski National Park (KPN) together with the Zespół Parków Krajobrazowych Województwa Śląskiego (Landscape Parks of Silesian Voivodship, ZPKWŚ) undertook the organization of two working meetings of this type. The first of them took place on 1 and 2 October 2015 in KPN, the second will be held by ZPKWŚ in November this year.

At the meeting in Kampinoski National Park representatives of 20 beneficiaries implementing a total of 23 LIFE projects were present. The meeting was also attended by employees of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Warsaw. The National Fund serves as the National Implementing Institution for LIFE projects, the National Contact Point of the LIFE financial instrument, and last (but not least) co-finances LIFE projects implemented in Poland. In total, the meeting was attended by 59 people. Deliberations had a working character. The participants were divided into groups which were then seated at separate tables and asked to discuss four main issues related to the implementation of LIFE. Persons coordinating the work of individual groups were: Anna Mendel from Foundation of Support of Ecological Initiatives from Krakow (financial group), Piotr Niedbał from the Landscape Parks of Silesian Voivodship (material progress group), Lech Krzysztofiak of Wigry National Park (changes of projects and contacts with the European Commission group), and Katarzyna Barańska – the Naturalists Club (the final report and sustainability of the project group). At the end of the first day of the conference moderators provided detailed summary of the topics discussed at the various tables to all participants of the meeting. The meeting was closed by a speech from deputy director of KPN Anna Wilińska and Head of the Department of LIFE Program in the National Fund Andrzej Muter. Many participants emphasized that the meeting has brought a lot of practical information that will help in the realization of their projects.

The second day of the meeting was devoted to the field trip and familiarizing participants with two LIFE projects carried out in Kampinos National Park: "ActiveKPN" (LIFE10 NAT/PL/ 000655) and "Kampinos Wetlands" (LIFE12 NAT/PL/000084). The meeting participants took a bus to the venue of these projects in the vicinity of Roztoka, Sowia Wola and Górki, as well as Grochalskie Piachy.

Certainly, this meeting has not exhausted the list of topics which seem to call for a discussion at the second meeting. It was already announced that it will take place in a similar format and will be held in the Landscape Parks of Silesian Voivodship. The importance of the meeting is underlined by the fact that after its completion part of the participants continued the conversation in smaller circles.

We thank all participants for taking part in the meeting. It is thanks to your involvement and openness that we could collectively share valuable experiences.

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