Fourth National Report to the cbd – malta executive Summary




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participatory approach in policy development. A consultation process is normally implemented when new legislation is proposed, compliant with Article 10.1 of the EPA. Public hearings are also an integral part of EIA and SEA procedures.

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - It is envisaged that management planning for terrestrial Natura 2000 sites will take a participatory approach, through the proposed EAFRD project.

Goal 3.1: To provide an enabling policy, institutional and socio-economic environment for protected areas

Target: By 2008 review and revise policies as appropriate, including use of social and economic valuation and incentives, to provide a supportive enabling environment for more effective establishment and management of protected areas and protected areas systems.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [ in view of expired deadline and lack of social and economic valuation]

Description of Progress

Protected areas are covered by a national legislative framework under the EPA (and in the case of SACs also under the DPA) and relevant subsidiary legislation thereto. Some individual protected areas are also governed by specific legislation (e.g. Selmunett, Filfla and Fungus Rock). An assessment of legislative and institutional gaps and barriers that impede the effective establishment and management of protected areas is being carried out as part of a “Better Regulation Initiative”.

It is important to note that Malta’s protected areas are limited in size and resources, as compared to protected areas in other countries, and thus economic opportunities and markets are inevitably limited. Nonetheless minor economic opportunities derived from protected areas are already being identified. For example at Wied Għollieqa, carob syrup is made from carobs found on site and subsequently sold.

Certain site managers collaborate with the University of Malta, whereby students reading for BSc degrees carry out their dissertations on protected areas thereby collecting the required data as a baseline on which to elaborate conservation measures and assess the effectiveness and progress in achieving desired goals. Such data also assists in devising management plans. Site managers also offer guided nature walks and educational activities within protected areas. CEPA activities include public talks, press releases, articles, guided nature walks for all age groups, educational activities for students of all ages and other outdoor activities. Certain environmental NGOs also publish environmental booklets/journals targeting children and also adults. A peer reviewed Journal - the Central Mediterranean Naturalist – is also published nationally. NGOs also undertake joint activities with other NGOs and environmentally-friendly enterprises.



Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities – Economic valuation and resource accounting tools would help to identify the hidden and non-hidden economic benefits provided by protected areas at a national level. Management plans that will be prepared through the proposed EAFRD project would include a self-financing assessment to ensure financial sustainability.

Goal 3.2: To build capacity for the planning, establishment and management of protected areas

Target: By 2010, comprehensive capacity building programmes and initiatives are implemented to develop knowledge and skills at individual, community and institutional levels, and raise professional standards.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level -

Description of Progress

A Twinning Project (Twinning Code: MT04-IB-EN-02) on the Implementation of the Nature Protection Aquis in Malta was concluded from October 2005 to March 2007. The project was funded through the EU Transitional Facility Programme for 2004 and was jointly implemented by Austria (Austrian Federal Environment Agency) and Malta (MEPA). The project consisted of a series of training workshops targeting MEPA staff, four half day workshops targeting various sectors (agriculture, marine, tourism), one national half-day seminar involving stakeholders, NGOs and the public in general; and also included the production of leaflets.

A structural funds project (ERDF) entitled “marine scientific surveys around Filfla for its conservation” was carried out in the period 2004 to 2006 through which important marine data was gathered for possible eventual protection.

Numerous projects were concluded under the MedPAN project (a network for MPA managers), one of which was a study to establish the Conservation status of Noble Pen Shell (Pinna nobilis) in the Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA. A protocol for monitoring Pinna nobilis was in fact developed. Through this project, a number of posters on the marine environment were produced as well as a poster on the importance of Pinna nobilis and its legal status (Figure 20). The results of the project on the Pinna nobilis were presented in scientific fora.


Figure 20 - Poster on Pinna nobilis


Another study, MonItalMAL26 was concluded by the UoM on the Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA, whereby through the actual water quality and fish censuses, as well as other research work, the efficiency of this MPA was again tested.

An expert mission on the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Strategy and associated rolling plan for the Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designations was completed in 2009. This collaboration project with Greece provided direction on marine protected area nomenclature and habitat interpretation particularly in terms of the EC Nature Directives.

With the assistance of RAC/SPA, a number of seminars on the importance of marine biodiversity have been held. Numerous seminars and training sessions on protected species, and targeting NGOs and other departments, were held, e.g. training sessions on marine turtles, including the dissemination of leaflets and posters as well as the guidebook for fishermen on the right handling for turtles. MEPA, together with Fisheries and environmental NGOs, was involved in a number of media-broadcasted turtles release programmes and which were attended by the Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs. School children have also attended these events.

MEPA also carried out numerous PA events on the occasion of the local visit by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) during a survey commissioned by ACCOBAMS & IFAW in the Mediterranean for the survey of cetaceans and other protected species like marine turtles. MEPA was also involved in a Mediterranean wide survey of cetaceans carried out in a joint project by ACCOBAMS and IFAW. MEPA also received training on the carrying out of such surveys.

The knowledge base on certain groups of threatened and endemic taxa (invertebrates; vertebrates, excluding birds and cetaceans) has been strengthened via a number of commissioned studies. The data gathered will help in developing a National Biodiversity Database as well as updated Red Data Lists. The conservation status of species of European Community importance has been assessed in compliance with Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. Such assessment serves as a baseline for monitoring species trends in future years.

A report is submitted to MEPA by site managers to document the measures adopted and implemented in order to manage selected PAs and safeguard their integrity. Various initiatives have been adopted by site managers, such as propagating and selling plants, guided tours, and locally produced products.

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities – Resource mobilisation would help to better equip site managers. The consultative role of local government can provide added value to the management of protected areas. Information exchange between the scientific community (including protected area managers) and policy makers could also be strengthened. Governance and further involvement of stakeholders and local groups is also important.

Goal 3.3: To develop, apply and transfer appropriate technologies for protected areas

Target: By 2010 the development, validation, and transfer of appropriate technologies and innovative approaches for the effective management of protected areas is substantially improved, taking into account decisions of the Conference of the Parties on technology transfer and cooperation.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level -

Description of Progress

Habitats mapping has been carried out since 1995 leading to an inventory of areas of ecological importance (AEIs) and sites of scientific importance (SSIs) in connection with Article 46 of the DPA. Habitats mapping has also been carried out since 2002 as part of the selection of SACs and SPAs in connection with LN 311 of 2006 (as amended) and LN 79 of 2006 (as amended by LN 39 of 2007; consolidated legislation available here), respectively. Identification and mapping of Tree Protected Areas has been done since 1999 and finalised in 2009. An exercise was also recently carried out to map the mediolittoral algal communities along the coastline of the Maltese archipelago. Furthermore, through a number of EIAs, other mapping exercises were also carried out for particular marine areas. A wetlands inventory is available and includes extant wetlands and the major tributaries.

Rapid assessments are carried out on an ad hoc basis. More in-depth assessments are carried out either as commissioned studies or as part of EIA/SEA procedures and appropriate assessment procedure.

MEPA has been involved in regional projects on protected areas such as the concluded MedPAN Project” under EC Interreg IIIC Funding and the “Rete dei Parchi: Interreg IIIC Parks Network Project”, which was completed in 2008.

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities – Management of protected areas could be strengthened by investing in additional resources and by exploring innovative approaches to protected area management and increased networking.

Goal 3.4: To ensure financial sustainability of protected areas and national and regional systems of protected areas

Target: By 2008, sufficient financial, technical and other resources to meet the costs to effectively implement and manage national and regional systems of protected areas are secured, including both from national and international sources, particularly to support the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition and small island developing states.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level –

Description of Progress

An overview of the financial resource needs required for protected area planning, establishment and management was obtained when the costs and benefits of implementing Natura 2000 were estimated in 2009. Updated information on EU funding support, which may be applied for financing research on protected areas or other activities, as eligible, is provided by the various national bodies who are the Management Authorities for the different EU financing mechanisms in Malta.

MEPA contributes to nature protection and ecosystems management in various aspects, including co-financing of EU funded projects, assistance to non-governmental organisations, and employment of staff, biodiversity action plans and management agreements for protected areas. MEPA has also been involved in a number of externally funded projects aimed at i) establishment of protected areas ii) drafting of management plans and iii) implementation of management plans. Amongst relevant projects one can mention the following:


  • EC SMAP MedMPA project coordinated by RAC/SPA

  • EC ERDF Project on the Filfla candidate marine protected area

  • EC LIFE Third Project on the Dwejra Special Area of Conservation

  • EC Interreg IIIC MedPAN Project on establishing a network of marine protected areas amongst Mediterranean countries

  • EC Interreg IIIC Parks Network Project on a network of terrestrial protected areas

  • EC Transitional Funds Natura 2000 Twinning Project with Austria

  • EU Life Project on the Yelkouan Shearwater

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - One of the planned activities of the EAFRD proposed project is to identify potential sources of funding (whether national, international, private sponsorships, etc.), once the management plans will be prepared.

Goal 3.5: To strengthen communication, education and public awareness

Target: By 2008 public awareness, understanding and appreciation of the importance and benefits of protected areas is significantly increased.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level -

Description of Progress

A number of technical workshops and seminars were carried out targeting relevant stakeholders or the general public in relation to Natura 2000 and protected areas. Amongst these one can mention a national seminar on ‘Natura 2000 and its implementation’ held in March 2007, and a seminar on ‘Marine Life and MPAs’ held subsequently in April 2007.

Amongst the deliverables of the Parks Network project, which was financed by Interreg IIIC South Zone, was the production of a series of posters, which included four specifically on protected areas (Il-Ballut tal-Wardija, Ir-Ramla l-Ħamra, Coastal Cliffs and Wied il-Miżieb – see Figure 21, overleaf).


Figure 21 - Poster prepared for Il-Ballut tal-Wardija


MEPA has been involved in a number of other externally funded projects. Amongst relevant projects one can mention the "EC SMAP MedMPA project" coordinated by RAC/SPA; the “MedPAN Project” (Mediterranean Coastal and Marine Protected Areas Network) and the "EC ERDF Project on the Filfla candidate marine protected area". Amongst the deliverables of these projects in question one can mention:



  • a set of 3 concept posters introducing MPAs directed at the general public (Figure 22),

  • a documentary on the Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA produced on DVD,

  • a DVD on the marine environment around the island of Filfla,

  • for the MedMPA and the ERDF Filfla projects - public awareness seminars and also stakeholders meetings,

  • a brochure and a leaflet on the importance of the marine biodiversity around the area of Filfla and on the findings of this research study;

  • Numerous TV and radio spots on the MedMPA and the ERDF Filfla projects as well as the importance of marine biodiversity.


Figure 22 - MPA Concept Posters

Management plans of protected areas also contain an education and awareness-raising component. For instance, the management plans for the two local Ramsar Sites, l-Għadira and Is-Simar, include a strong education and awareness-raising component. A well-developed educational programme for primary school-children is implemented in both sites, focussing on a practical hands-on learning approach, as well as a class-room follow-up component. Awareness-raising consists mainly of the use of mass-media to promote the sites’ “educational entertainment” value for families.



Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - A tender for a three-year communication campaign on Natura 2000 is envisaged. A series of on-site information panels are being prepared which will eventually be set up in protected areas.

Goal 4.1: To develop and adopt minimum standards and best practices for national and regional protected area systems

Target: By 2008, standards, criteria, and best practices for planning, selecting, establishing, managing and governance of national and regional systems of protected areas are developed and adopted.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [In view of superseded deadline]

Description of Progress

A good practice guidance document on the management of protected areas in the Mediterranean region was produced as part of the Parks Network project financed by Interreg IIIC South Zone. The said document also includes the relevant experience of Malta on site and species management. Further information is available at the project’s website.



Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - System-level management effectiveness of protected areas is currently undergoing evaluation to establish standard procedures and improve current procedures.

Goal 4.2: To evaluate and improve the effectiveness of protected areas management

Target: By 2010, frameworks for monitoring, evaluating and reporting protected areas management effectiveness at sites, national and regional systems, and transboundary protected area levels adopted and implemented by Parties.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level -

Description of Progress

Protected area management is monitored on an annual basis and the monitoring results feed back into the management process. Site managers are required to submit a report that details progress made in managing protected area(s).



Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - The new Management Plans for L-Għadira, Is-Simar, and L-Rdum tal-Madonna will comprise a management effectiveness evaluation programme, which will help guide management measures to improve efficiency and effectiveness of actions undertaken, based on the results achieved.

Goal 4.3: To assess and monitor protected area status and trends

Target: By 2010, national and regional systems are established to enable effective monitoring of protected-area coverage, status and trends at national, regional and global scales, and to assist in evaluating progress in meeting global biodiversity targets.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level -

Description of Progress –

Monitoring of biodiversity in protected areas is usually one of the management measures in the management plan. It contributes to the management effectiveness evaluation for the protected area. Moreover, the status and trends of species and habitats of European interest are assessed in compliance with the requirements of Article 17 of the Habitats Directive [see Chapter 1 of this report].

The MEPA MAP Server essentially serves as a GIS tool. Aerial photographs are taken of all the Maltese Islands over an intermittent basis. Such photos can also be used to track changes in habitat cover over the years.



Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - Monitoring of terrestrial protected area coverage, status and trends will be strengthened by way of the proposed EAFRD funded project.

Goal 4.4: To ensure that scientific knowledge contributes to the establishment and effectiveness of protected areas and protected area systems

Target: Scientific knowledge relevant to protected areas is further developed as a contribution to their establishment, effectiveness, and management.

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level -

Description of Progress

Scientific knowledge relevant to protected areas is mainly acquired via commissioned studies and/or input by specialists or else as specific EU funded projects.

For instance, the project entitled "Marine Scientific Surveys around Filfla for its Conservation" was financed by the ERDF and was completed in 2006. The main aim of this project was to obtain accurate scientific data on the marine area around Filfla in order to be able to assess whether the marine area qualifies for designation as a marine potential Site of Community Importance (pSCI) in line with the EC Habitats Directive. The project involved the compilation of data through field surveys, using various techniques, including diving and remote surveillance by submersibles. Collected data was analysed and presented in comprehensive reports on the status of marine biodiversity and habitats in the area. Leaflets, a booklet, and an educational video were also produced as part of this project with the intention of raising awareness amongst the general public and stakeholders. The results of this project fed into the NMPAS (see above). Besides this, the experience gained from this project shall serve as the blueprint for the drafting of management plans for other MPAS including the Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA.

Apart from the above, over the past few years, MEPA has also received technical support related to protected areas, especially through participation in internationally funded projects. Amongst these one can mention the following:


  • EC SMAP MedMPA project coordinated by RAC/SPA – completed in 2005

  • EC LIFE Third project on the Dwejra Special Area of Conservation – completed in 2007

  • EC Transitional Funds Natura 2000 Twinning Project with Austria and Italy - completed in 2007

  • EC Interreg IIIC MedPAN project on a network of marine protected areas – completed in 2008

  • EC Interreg IIIC Parks Network Project on a network of terrestrial protected areas – completed in 2008

  • Mission on the Marine Protected Area Strategy and designation of Special Area of Conservation – completed in 2009

The University of Malta is participating in the EMPAFISH Project (European Marine Protected Areas as tools for Fisheries management and conservation) under the 6th Framework Programme of the Commission of the European Communities (EU). One of the objectives is to investigate the potential of different regimes of protected areas as measures to protect sensitive and endangered species, habitats and ecosystems from the effects of fishing, using 20 case studies. The Maltese EMPAFISH case studies are the Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA and Malta’s Fisheries Management Zone.

The Ecosystems Management Unit within MEPA and the Department of Biology (UoM) collaborate together to identify conservation and ecological research topics (such as biological surveying within protected areas) that can be undertaken as dissertations by students reading for a Bachelor or Masters of Science degrees in biology. Liaison also occurs with foreign students carrying out research overseas, as well as other research organisations.

Information on the protection of important natural areas is available online. Such areas can be protected via designation as: Areas of Ecological Importance; Sites of Scientific Importance; Bird Sanctuaries; Nature Reserves; Special Areas of Conservation (national importance); Special Areas of Conservation (international importance); Special Protection Areas; Ramsar Sites and/or Specially Protected Areas. An area can be covered by more than one designation. Some site managers provide information on protected areas on their websites, such as for example for Għajn Tuffieħa and Ramla l-Ħamra, Simar and Għadira. Information on parks such as the Dwejra Heritage Park and Majjistral Nature and History Park is also available online.

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - Interdisciplinary research is important to improve the understanding of the ecological, social and economic aspects of protected areas, including methods and techniques for valuation of goods and services from protected areas.



1 Designated as Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLV) under the provisions of the Development Planning Act

2 Estimates based on Adi Associates Environmental Consultants & Ecoserv (2005). Biodiversity Action Plan. Tender for the setting up of a list of Threatened and/or endemic invertebrates of the Maltese Islands, excluding insects. Report commissioned by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority as part of the Biodiversity Action Plan Programme and the Habitat Inventorying Programme. (Unpublished).

3 Estimates based on AIS Environmental Ltd. (2005). Biodiversity Action Plan. Tender for the setting up of a list of Threatened and/or Endemic Insects. Report commissioned by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority as part of the Biodiversity Action Plan Programme and the Habitat Inventorying Programme. (Unpublished).

4 Estimates based on Adi Associates Environmental Consultants & Ecoserv (2005). Biodiversity Action Plan. Tender for the setting up of a list of Threatened and/or Endemic Vertebrates excluding Fish, Birds, Cetaceans and Bats. Report commissioned by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority as part of the Biodiversity Action Plan Programme and the Habitat Inventorying Programme. (Unpublished).

5 Estimates based on Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands

6 Oryctolagus cuniculus is an introduced species

7 Threatened species = Critically Endangered (CR) (48%) + Endangered (EN) (10%) + Vulnerable (VU)(42%)

8 Is-Simar and Salina are both protected areas.

9 In this assessment, sites/data analysis excluded marine habitats, except for a minimal cover of reefs which in this case were included with terrestrial sites.

10 For detailed accounts of these indicators please refer to www.mepa.org.mt/state-environment. The publication of the 2008 SOEIs is forthcoming.

11 Some legislation already existed during the rule of the Knights of St John, whereby species were protected in view of their commercial importance; e.g. the collection of Cynomorium coccineum, which was highly valued for its presumed medicinal properties during the 18th century, was strictly prohibited (vide Stevens et al. 1995).

12 Only species listed in international treaties, red data lists, and lists of species of conservation importance are included, and only locally breeding species are considered; migratory and vagrant birds are excluded from the list.

13 Species Protected in 2009 were actually protected in 2006, (by way of LN 311 of 2006) but are included as 2009 for consistency since those marked 2002 and 2005 were not necessarily protected in those years but before.

14 Varnham, K. J. & Meier G. G. (2007) Rdum tal-Madonna rat control project, December 2006 – March 2007, Final report. Unpublished report to BirdLife Malta & RSPB, 28pp.

15 This issue is also noted in the Communication from the Commission on Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species

16 Short term is hereby defined in terms of the two year time frame covered within the current action plan.

17 The poverty rate stood at 13.7% amongst males and 14.7% amongst females (Source: SILC 2005).

18 Medium term is hereby defined in terms of time frames exceeding the two years.

19 Short term is hereby defined in terms of the two year time frame covered within the current action plan.

20 The poverty rate stood at 13.7% amongst males and 14.7% amongst females (Source: SILC 2005).

21 Medium term is hereby defined in terms of time frames exceeding the two years.

22 The 16 targets contained in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation have been adopted by Decision VI/9

23 This section of the report should be read in parallel with Chapter 2 – Responses to the Goals set under the PoW on Island Biodiversity

24 Name in legislation: Żona fil-baħar bejn Rdum Majjiesa u Ras ir-Raheb

25 Name in legislation: Żona fil-baħar fl-inħawi tad-Dwejra, Għawdex

26 MonItaMal (Interreg IIIA Italy-Malta): Sviluppo di un sistema di monitoraggio della qualità ambientale: valutazione dei livelli di contaminazione nelle diverse matrici marine (acque, sedimenti, biota) e dei rischi per la biodiversità marina costiera

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