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Impact of light and noise pollution on biodiversity
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 1: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
There is a need to better understand the overall impact of these pollution sources of emerging concern on biodiversity, in particular how the conservation status of species and habitats is affected, mechanisms at stake and how to monitor and mitigate adverse effects.
Light pollution is the alteration of natural lighting levels due to artificial light at night. It has been rapidly increasing, with the illumination level in developed countries increasing tenfold over the last 50 years. From 2012 to 2016, Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2.2% per year. Artificial light at night is a powerful environmental stressor which alters the biological rhythms of living organisms (fauna and flora), modifies species assemblages (e.g. fish in ports) and changes ecosystems at large. There is a broad scientific consensus that it poses a threat to biodiversity and this has led to growing concerns in recent years. Light pollution is specifically known to cause habitat fragmentation, impairing physiology and behaviour in fauna. It is notably thought to be a major factor in the gradual disappearance of insect and bird populations worldwide. Its effects seem to intensify with the use of LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) including outside cities. Another domain of light pollution is the horizontally polarised light reflection of certain artificial surfaces (e.g. roads and photovoltaic solar panels), posing significant threat to polarotactic insects that get trapped in search for water bodies.
Noise is an environmental factor which is also given growing attention. According to IPBES, noise’s effects on nature are increasingly observed. Expansion of human population, transport networks and extraction have a range of impacts upon species, depending on auditory capacities and noise wavelengths. Underwater noises that are due not only to shipping but also to pile drivers, sonars, seismic testing or windfarms are significant marine pollutants. Noise can be particularly problematic for marine organisms. It has been shown for instance that it may modify behaviour and physiology of invertebrates and it is suspected to increase infection risks and alter spawning behaviour of affected species. It is suspected, for instance, to increase infection risks and spawning behaviour of affected species. Evidence of the impact of noise pollution on ecosystems is also growing, like the reduction of the presence of songbirds in cities.
EU policies integrate the need to protect biodiversity from light and noise in a limited extent, in particular:
- The Habitats Directive requires Member States to take the necessary measures to avoid significant disturbance of protected species in Natura 2000 sites, which, where relevant, is applicable to light pollution (Article 6.2).
- Noise is one aspect of the good environmental status defined in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive No 2008/56.
Light and noise pollution in general is addressed in a number of EU policies and directives: the Environmental Noise Directive, the Outdoor Noise Directive, the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (85/337/EEC). Reducing noise pollution is among the objectives of the EU Action Plan: 'Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil'. Noise and light are defined as pollutants in Regulation (EU) 2020/852 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment, (‘pollutant’ means a substance, vibration, heat, noise, light or other contaminant present in air, water or land which may be harmful to human health or the environment, which may result in damage to material property, or which may impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment). Light and noise pollution is included in one of the six thematic priority objectives of the 8th Environment Action Programme to 2030 (“pursuing zero-pollution, including in relation to harmful chemicals, in order to achieve a toxic-free environment, including for air, water, soil as well as in relation to light and noise pollution, and protecting the health and well-being of people, animals and ecosystems from environment-related risks and negative impacts”).
Targets groups for this topic are notably regulatory bodies, civil society, local and regional decision –makers.
Successful proposals should:
- provide a comprehensive review on available knowledge on the impacts of noise and light pollution on biodiversity and ecosystem services (from genetic to species levels) and their combined effects with other drivers of biodiversity loss including climate change and invasive species. The scope should cover terrestrial (both in urban and rural areas), fresh water and marine environments. Projects should build upon research performed on the European level as well as by the Member States and Associated Countries,
- assess the overall impacts of noise and light pollution on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe and the magnitude of the problems. This should include a scrutiny of applicable policies and their impact as well as a contextualisation of the problems from an environmental history perspective,
- improve understanding of mechanisms leading to biodiversity loss, including effects of noise and light pollution on the behaviour of animals which can eventually affect population viability,
- investigate how noise and light pollution affect the conservation status of species and habitats, and identify measures to avoid significant disturbance,
- assess the need and ability of specific measures to prevent negative impacts of light and noise on biodiversity, including monitoring,
- assess links to other policies where light and noise management is at place or relevance and synergies can be explored (disaster management, noise mapping etc.),
- explore innovative solutions to prevent and mitigate the impacts of light and noise on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This should not be limited to technological solutions.
Proposals should address Area A: terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems or Area B: aquatic (including marine) biodiversity and ecosystems. The area (A or B) should be clearly indicated on the application.
Cooperation with projects supported by the mission ‘Restore our Ocean and Waters’ is expected for Area B. Successful proposals under Area B are expected to strengthen the European contribution to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
Proposals should earmark the necessary resources for cooperation and networking activities. Collaboration with the European partnership on biodiversity Biodiversa+ should be explored, as needed.
This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines. Participatory approaches, such as citizen science, could be appropriate modes of research for this action.
International cooperation is encouraged.
In line with the European Green Deal and in particular with the objectives of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, projects will contribute to understand and address direct drivers of biodiversity decline in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.
Project results are expected to contribute to all following expected outcomes:
- The impact of light and noise pollution on biodiversity and ecosystem services is better understood and nature restoration activities as planned in the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 are supported, contributing to the objective of “at least 30% of all protected species and habitats not currently in favourable conservation status should reach favourable status or at least show a strong positive trend by 2030”,
- The awareness of private and public stakeholders about the impacts of light and noise on biodiversity is increased,
- Specific measures to assess, prevent and mitigate the negative impacts from light and noise on biodiversity are developed,
- Networking capacity on impacts of light and noise on biodiversity is built.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Natural Person, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
To ensure a balanced portfolio, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to one project within the area A (terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems) that is the highest ranked, and one project highest ranked within the area B (aquatic (including marine) biodiversity and ecosystems), provided that the applications attain all thresholds. Proposals clearly indicate the area they are applying to.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.