As part of the terminology of the European Union, LIFE is an acronym that stands for "L'Instrument Financier pour l'environment" (Financial Instrument for the Environment). The LIFE instrument provides funding in three major areas : Environment, Nature and Third Countries. Although all three areas aim to protect and improve the environment, they each have their specific priorities. LIFE Nature provides funding for the conservation of wild flora and fauna and the protection of habitats of EU interest.
LIFE dates back to 1992 and since its inception it has supported the implementation of nearly 300 projects in 20 countries. Between 1996 and 1999, 450 million Euro was spent on LIFE programmes. LIFE funding was opened to accession countries in 1999, with the first seven projects funded in Romania. In 2001, the LIFE instrument supported the development of two projects in Hungary, one of which is the Tisza programme. Details of this program are described in the following pages.