The project is being properly implemented. Although there were some delays at the beginning, the preparatory actions have been completed and results have been obtained in almost all the core, communication, and dissemination actions of the project. According to the results achieved so far and the good development of the project, it is contributing to achieve the objectives to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the actions aimed at combating environmental crimes in Spain, Portugal, and the rest of the EU.
Following the specifics objectives of the LIFE Nature Guardians, the following deliverables and outputs have been developed:
1) Guaranteeing and strengthening enforcement of criminal and environmental law.
To this end, several legal reports have been published with recommendations for legislative improvement and better law enforcement:
2) Boost the operational capability of agents and organizations dealing with environmental crime
To achieve this objective, 23 training courses have been organized for more than 1500 law enforcement officers and professionals from Spain, Portugal and other EU and non-EU countries on matters as the investigation of biodiversity crimes, environmental cybercrime, OSINT (open-source intelligence) or the prosecution of financial gains from environmental crime. As a result, the expected results have been achieved six times over.
In relation to this objective, under the project a joint meeting of ENVICRIMENET and the EU workshop on environmental crime investigation (WECI) was held. It brought together environmental police from 27 EU and non-EU countries and various bodies and agencies to share expertise, collaborate and agree on joint solutions in the investigation of environmental crime. During the meeting, several conclusions and recommendations were agreed.
3) Head off environmental crime, raising society’s awareness of its importance.
In relation to this objective, the opening in Spain, at the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN), of a permanent exhibition on the right and duty to conserve nature, as set out in Article 45 of the Spanish Constitution, stands out among other actions. The space features a work by the artist Julio Falagán and a video with the participation of high-ranking Spanish authorities, which can be visited by more than 300,000 people. In addition, 9 awareness-raising classes have been given to some 140 pupils and teachers in Portugal.
4) Reduce the level of environmental-crime impunity.
- To meet this objective, SEO/BirdLife and SPEA have initiated more than 21 legal actions in the courts (7 in Portugal and 14 in Spain), with the aim of promoting and informing these legal processes and obtaining exemplary sentences.
In addition, a national intelligence office (OCN) has been set up, which represents a significant step forward in the investigation of environmental crime; 8 specific police operations and campaigns have been carried out by the Guardia Civil under the project. As result of all this, more than 600 websites related to wildlife trafficking has been investigated; 3245 infraction reports related to wildlife have been issued; 37267 infraction reports related to waste have been issued; 438 infraction reports related to poisonous baits have been issued. And in relation to criminal offenses, 584 crimes have been detected and 809 persons have been arrested or investigated.
5) Raise awareness of the dimension of environmental crime and the motives behind.
In relation to this objective, a specific web page has been created (accessible in Spanish, English, and Portuguese) and 7 roll ups have been produced with different messages related to the project . To better disseminate the results of the project, a corporate identity manual and a communication strategy and dossier have been drawn up. In addition, 46 press releases have been published and more than 300 impacts have been achieved in the media with a potential audience of than 80 million users.
Several events have been held to present various actions in which the project has enjoyed broad institutional support in Spain, reflecting its importance at the national level.
In relation to this objective, but with a broader purpose, a Replicability Strategy of the LIFE Nature Guardians for the dissemination of the project results has also been elaborated.
6) Improve the state of conservation of the environment and EU species and habitat.
Although this objective will be evaluated at the end of the project, the results achieved have established the basis for the reduction of environmental crime and its impact.