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 participation in developing management plans is also integrated in the ‘Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006’ (LN 311 of 2006, as amended) and is practiced for instance in the protected areas - l-Għadira, is-Simar, and Rdum tal-Madonna - where the local communities and land users are involved as stakeholders in the management planning process through an active participative approach with site managers.. Locals are actively involved in the problem-solving process, and are encouraged to submit proposals for solutions, some of which may actually require them to take responsibility themselves.

Efforts aimed at the rehabilitation of certain degraded habitats are ongoing in protected areas that are covered by a management plan. Ad hoc interventions in areas not covered by a management plan are also undertaken (e.g. Selmunett Islands). Habitat Restoration activities targeting the maquis systems at Wied Għollieqa and Wied il-Miżieb have also been undertaken.

Ecosystem monitoring programmes are also being developed for instance in compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). Selected habitats are also monitored on an ad hoc basis. Scientific surveys of wetlands in the Maltese Islands are currently ongoing to assess their status in relation to Annexes I and II of the EC Habitats Directive. Monitoring exercises have also targeted the marine biodiversity such as monitoring of certain species - e.g. the baseline study carried out to monitor and assess the populations of Pinna nobilis in the Rdum Majjiesa MPA.

A satellite tagging project was carried with the help of the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) and the Stazione Zoologica di Napoli (SZN). The project involved the release of two specimens of loggerhead marine turtles fitted with satellite tags. RAC/SPA and SZN provided essential guidance, financial and expert assistance for the success of the exercise, whilst Fisheries assisted in the turtle release exercise. This project provided information on the migration routes followed by the released turtles. Satellite telemetry used in conjunction with other studies may allow the identification of migration routes and important areas frequented by these marine turtles. This may lead to obtaining the required knowledge-base for arriving at appropriate conservation measures that would be established in line with national and international obligations, accordingly.

A multiple device tagging exercise was also carried out as part of the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project at Rdum tal-Madonna, where Yelkouan Shearwaters were fitted with satellite tags, data loggers and geolocators. This tracking exercise enabled the assessment of different tagging techniques and methodologies. The results also provided data on important rafting sites, feeding areas, post-fledging migratory routes and adult wintering quarters for this species. The satellite tracking techniques were also tested on several individuals of the Cory’s Shearwater.

Obstacles, Needs & Future Priorities – The understanding of ecological process needs to be strengthened via further research and monitoring. Malta has applied for funds to prepare management plans and/or legislation for all Natura 2000 sites of the Maltese Islands via a proposed project. It is envisaged that full stakeholder involvement through the entire management planning process will be carried out via the envisaged project if approved for funding. Climate change and adaptation issues are also envisaged to be considered in the development of management plans. The development of a habitats interpretation manual is also in the pipeline.

Goal – 2: Promote the conservation of island species diversity

Target 2.1: Populations of island species of selected taxonomic groups restored, maintained, or their decline substantially reduced

Target 2.2: Status of threatened island species significantly improved

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level – (many species remain threatened) [targets 2.1 and 2.2]

Description of Progress

Conservation measures aimed at the recovery of threatened/endangered species are also being implemented. Where needed, in situ conservation efforts are supported by ex situ measures especially with regards to endangered plant species such as diseased specimens/populations that would benefit from micropropagation in order to boost up population numbers. For instance, a number of reinforcement measures have been undertaken such as for the endangered Sarcopoterium spinosum and the endemic Cremnophyton lanfrancoi.

Projects comprising measures for the recovery of endangered species have also been undertaken or are in progress. Two projects are presented here as examples:

  • The ecological restoration of Selmunett Islands, which is a Nature Reserve and a Specially Protected Area (under the SPA Protocol of the Barcelona Convention) since 1986, has been carried out by MEPA, with the help of funds provided by the HSBC Cares for the Environment Fund (HCEF). The aim of this project was to restore the habitat for the endemic lizard, Podarcis filfolensis kieselbachi, to allow the population to recover. This involved the eradication of rats and alien vegetation from the site.

  • The ongoing EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project funded project “Monitoring and Conservation of Shearwaters and Petrels in the Maltese Islands (GARNIJA-MALTIJA)” aims at reversing the declining trend observed in the Puffinus yelkouan population at Rdum tal-Madonna, a designated SPA. This protected area hosts the largest colony of Puffinus yelkouan on the islands. BirdLife Malta are leading this project in partnership with two other conservation NGO’s and four Government Authorities. MEPA is a co-financier to the project.

MEPA is also actively involved in turtle release programmes, as well as, in aiding the local network for stranding of cetaceans and turtles, through the provision of expertise and direct help in such stranding events.

MEPA has been involved in a number of other projects, including projects administered and (co-) funded by MEPA, as well as projects funded through EU funds and funds from the United Nations Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP). Details on internationally and EU funded projects in which MEPA was or is currently a partner is available through the MEPA website.

A documentary entitled Journey into the Depths of the Mediterranean has been produced. The documentary offers a visual experience of marine life found in the seas around the Maltese archipelago. It gives a detailed explanation of the origins of the Mediterranean Sea, and an in-depth description of life in today’s Mediterranean, covering organisms and habitats of the sea floor as well as conservation issues. The DVD also incorporates a detailed index of over 40 different fish and invertebrates. The description of each animal also looks into their sources of food, and their spawning.

The MEPA website provides access to information on Maltese biodiversity, protected areas and adopted policies, including State of Environment Reports/Indicators for Malta.

Various studies have been commissioned by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to collect essential information on Malta’s biodiversity and to improve the knowledge base on groups of threatened and endemic species (invertebrates; vertebrates, excluding birds and cetaceans), as well as a study on Posidonia meadows in Maltese waters. Some of these studies have provided maps showing the distribution of endangered species, such as maps of endangered insects. These studies will contribute to the updating of the Red Data Book and will also help in the development of conservation measures. Under some of the commissioned studies a series of databases in MS access format have been developed, which shall be centralised when a national database on biodiversity will be established; this will be available to the public through the MEPA website.

Taxonomic training as part of continued professional development is offered as courses which are attended by environment protection officers or else is offered by MEPA to its own staff as in-house training. Taxonomic studies are also undertaken on an individual basis by scientific experts who publish their work in scientific journals.

Obstacles, needs and future priorities – Obstacles include various resource limitations and conflicting issues arising in view of land constraints. Species and habitat monitoring and improving their conservation status is deemed of priority. Additional CEPA activities and further resource mobilisation are also desired.

Goal – 3: Promote the conservation of island genetic diversity

Target 3.1: Genetic diversity of crops, livestock, and other valuable island species conserved, and associated indigenous and local knowledge maintained

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level – [target 3.1]

Description of Progress

Throughout the years, modern varieties of plants and livestock have been imported in favour of local populations, with the result that the Maltese genotypes have been eroded or entirely lost. Agro-species believed of local origin include possibly more than one variety of peach; possibly more than one variety of citrus (such as the Maltese blood orange), the local cultivar “Bambinella” (Small Malta June Pear), olive, and two indigenous varieties of vines: Ġellewża [red] and Girgentina [white] (see Rural Development Programme 2007-2013; Section Agricultural biodiversity).

The Plant Health Department (PHD) regulates the marketing of seeds irrespective of their origin. Although there is no real seed bank at the Department, some seeds of cereals, fodder plants and vegetables that are thought to belong to local varieties are being conserved and characterisation trials have been carried out in order for a morphological description of such varieties to be established. In collaboration with MEPA, endangered species, such wild orchids and one species of tulip are also being micropropagated and at the same time conserved at the Tissue Culture Lab within the PHD. Other indigenous plants, which have been propagated in the past as part of conservation efforts, include Cremnophyton lanfrancoi, Helichrysum melitense, Cratageus monogyna, Urginea pancration, Pyrus syriaca and Pistacia terebinthus.

Interest in the reintroduction and preservation of livestock breeds is also increasing. Among authochtonous breeds one can mention the Maltese Ox known in Maltese as ‘Il-Baqra Maltija’. This is a critically endangered indigenous breed listed in the FAO’s World Watch list for Domestic Animal Diversity for the year 2000. Prior to mechanisation, this beast was utilised exclusively as a working animal. This breed has gradually been replaced by modern forms of mechanised traction. The Maltese Cattle Foundation was established to restore the herds by artificial selective interbreeding techniques. Presently no 100 percent pure-bred cattle remain in Malta (see RDP 2007-2013; Section Agricultural biodiversity).

Malta’s RDP 2007-2013 provides, under Axis II:

  • support for the conservation of genetic resources in agriculture [The objective is to conserve and possibly reverse the trend of erosion of genetic resources in agriculture including plant species and varieties and livestock breeds],

  • support for the conservation of species in danger of genetic erosion [The aims are to (1) conserve and maintain biodiversity by preserving Maltese indigenous livestock breeds in danger of genetic erosion, in particular the Maltese ox, by supporting the rearing and breeding of this particular breed; (2) to protect and maintain agricultural biodiversity by preserving those plant species that are in danger of genetic erosion, through support for their maintenance. The aims of this measure include the preservation of native varieties, the maintenance of habitats associated with endangered fauna and flora, and the conservation of genetic heritage to improve the agri-touristic potential of the island]

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - People are not fully aware of the necessity to conserve local varieties of species of agricultural importance. Lack of data can also impede the conservation of local varieties. The running of a seed bank requires resources – personnel are needed for seed collection and resources are needed for cleaning and storage. The promotion of the uptake of related agri-environment measures under the RDP is deemed very important.

Goal – 4: Promote sustainable use and consumption

Target 4.1: Island biodiversity based products are derived from sources that are sustainably managed, and production areas managed, consistent with the conservation of biological diversity

Target 4.2: Unsustainable consumption of island biological resources and its impact upon biodiversity is reduced
Target 4.3: No species of wild flora and fauna on islands is endangered by international trade

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level – [target 4.1 and target 4.2] [target 4,3]

Description of Progress

Sustainable use is promoted under the “Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006” (LN 311 of 2006, as amended) for plant and animal species that are directly exploited from the wild. These regulations integrate provisions that regulate the exploitation of a number of species that may become endangered if such activities are unsustainable and hence damaging to conservation status of the targeted species. For instance, when considering wild plants that are harvested and managed for food one can mention capers (Capparis orientalis and C. spinosa); fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Other flowering species such as Narcissus tazetta are collected from the wild and sold. Threatened species that are strictly protected are only collected from the wild for bona fide studies and only when authorised by the competent authority, i.e. MEPA.

Regulatory programmes to ensure that harvest for trade in species is sustainable have been adopted in accordance with CITES and relevant EU regulations, via the implementation (issuances of CITES permits/certificates) and enforcement (inspections & penalties in the case of infringements) of the “Trade in Species of Fauna and Flora Regulations, 2004” (LN 236 of 2004 as amended by LN 426 of 2007). Regulation 8(2) of LN 236 of 2004 (as amended) states that when an offence is committed as per Regulation 8(1), the offender will on conviction be liable to a fine of not less than four hundred and sixty-five Euros and eighty - seven cents (€465.87) but not exceeding four thousand and six hundred and fifty-eight Euros and seventy - five cents (€4,658.75), or to imprisonment for a period of not less than one month but not exceeding two years, or to both such fine or imprisonment. Trade of non-CITES listed species is regulated through the legal mandate of the EPA and the subsidiary legislation enacted thereto.

Sustainable agricultural practices are promoted in the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Malta COGAP). This Code contains recommendations concerning all aspects of agricultural production, namely: animal husbandry, manure handling, fertilisation practice, irrigation practice and plant protection. Sustainability is also ensured via the implementation of cross-compliance measures and abiding by statutory management requirements (SMRs) in the field of the environment, food safety, plant and animal health, and animal welfare, and good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs). The Rural Development Plan (RDP) for Malta also provides support for community projects [See Section 3.1 of this report].

Sustainability standards in the fisheries sector are reflected in selected provisions of relevant legislation currently in force e.g. Regulations 37 and 38 under the Fisheries Regulations (Code of Police Laws – Cap 10 – Subsidiary Legislation 10.12) which lays down minimum size limitations of species. Since 1971, Malta has managed a 25 nautical mile (nm) management zone previously known as the “Fisheries Conservation Zone” (FCZ) i.e. an extended fisheries management zone, beyond the 12nm territorial waters. Throughout all these years a strict licensing system was maintained within this zone, keeping large-scale industrial fishing such as trawling at a minimum. On 28 June, 2002, Malta and the EU reached an agreement that the 25 nm management zone will continue to be managed by the Maltese Authorities. During the negotiations it was argued that unrestricted access to the 25 nm zone would undermine the sustainability of the fish stocks in this ecologically important area, more so since fishing fleets of other neighbouring countries are known to be better equipped and more technologically advanced. The results of the Malta-EU negotiations on the 25 nautical mile Fisheries Management Zone have led to the adoption of a new Council Regulation (EC 1967/06), which lays down detailed conservation measures in connection with the zone’s management regime. This regulation also calls for the designation of Fisheries Restricted Areas in zones beyond or partly within jurisdiction [See Section 3.2 of this report].

A “no-take zone” (Figure 14) is proposed within the marine protected area Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb along the north-western coast of Malta – this zone covers an area of exceptionally high scientific, ecological, conservation and aesthetic value. The area offers the maximum protection level for the habitats and species that it hosts.

Goal - 5: Pressures from habitat loss, land-use change and degradation, and sustainable water use, reduced on islands

Target 5.1: Rate of loss and degradation of natural habitats in islands significantly decreased (target 5.1 of the 2010 framework)

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [target 5.1]

Description of Progress

Land development/use control and spatial planning are regulated by way of the DPA and the Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands [See Section 3.6 on Land Use of this report]. The Structure Plan for the Maltese Island puts forward a series of policies that promote integrated land and water use planning. Structure Plan policies also contribute to prevent soil degradation. Integrated policy is also laid down by the Development Planning Act, the Environment Protection Act and subsidiary legislation thereto. Other tools include, inter alia, the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), EIAs and SEAs (SEA and EIA legislation is reviewed periodically for continued improvement), and the ongoing WFD implementation process. Planning Enforcement is carried out in the form of direct action procedures as part of development control [see Section 3.6 on Land Use for more detail]. MEPA also coordinates with other entities for land and water use planning or management. For instance, under the WFD, such coordination and implementation is being jointly carried out by MEPA and the Malta Resources Authority. Extensive consultations are being made in the Structure Plan Review Process. Malta’s Rural Development Plan (2007-2013) sets measures to aid in land and water management integration from a rural perspective.

Impacts on habitats from land development are assessed through environmental assessments and in the case of Natura 2000 sites and SACs of national importance, via an appropriate assessment (AA) in compliance with Article 6 of the EC Habitats Directive. Indeed, Regulations 18 and 19 of the ‘Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006’ (LN 311 of 2006, as amended) establish a procedure to be followed for “any operation or activity related to development, or any endeavour, which is envisaged to have impact on biodiversity and the SAC” [Regulation 18(3)] as well as “an operation or activity which is or forms part of a plan or project which (a) is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the protected site, and (b) is likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects” [Regulation 19(1)]. An application for consent is to be submitted to the Competent Authority (MEPA), and processed under Part III of LN 311 of 2006 (as amended). In this respect, the AA procedure is initiated, with a screening exercise, carried out in line with guidelines established by the European Commission. Consent may be granted by the Competent Authority in accordance with the provisions established by the afore-mentioned law, which transposes the EC Habitats Directive. Such consent “may contain such conditions and other provisions it deems fit and appropriate to impose” [Regulation 18(2)]. In terms of frequency, most applications are one-off ad-hoc activities, particularly concentrated during the spring/summer period, and not all involve large-scale events. There were 12 applications for activities in 2008 (of which only 5 applications, about 42% of the applications, were related to organised events), and 16 applications in 2009 (of which 12 applications, 75% of the applications, were organised events). Of 12 organised events in 2009, only 25% of the applications (3 applications) were relatively large-scale, and of these only two out of three were in Natura 2000 sites.

Malta submitted its official report on the implementation of the Recommendation for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Europe to the European Commission on 27 March 2006. Malta's ICZM Strategy is embodied in the Coastal Strategy Topic Paper prepared by MEPA as part of the Structure Plan Review. ICZM is the remit of a number of agencies, though its close linkage with spatial and regional development planning places MEPA in the lead role. This ensures that ICZM issues are considered in development planning mechanisms.

From 2000 – 2002, Malta benefited from funding under the Mediterranean Action Plan for a Coastal Area Management Program (MED CAMP), which was aimed at introducing and applying the principles, methodologies and practices of sustainable coastal management in Malta, particularly in the North West area. MEPA was also a project partner in the DEDUCE (Développement durable des Côtes Européennes) Project. This trans-national project concerned ICZM and was co-financed by the European Commission and the participating regions, in the framework of Interreg IIIC South. The main objective of the project was to evaluate the utility of indicators for optimal decision-making in relation to the coast, following the principles and criteria established by the EU Recommendation on ICZM. The stocktaking exercise required by the ICZM Recommendation was carried out by Malta through the preparation of the Coastal Strategy Topic Paper as part of the review of the national development plan: the Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands. This stocktaking exercise shows that the natural resources within the terrestrial coastal zone are diverse but their occurrence is not abundant due to the limited size of the Maltese Islands. Pressures on the coastal zone arise from development that leads to loss of open space for the public, degradation of habitats and conflicts with, or displacement of, other uses.

Benthic habitats and their biota are often vulnerable to anthropogenic activities such as bottom fishing with trawls. Considering the need to investigate the wider ecological impacts of fishing activities on seabed habitats and organisms, one can mention the BENSPEFISH Project [Benthic Secondary Production and Essential Fish Habitats in the Malta FMZ], which a collaborative research project between the Marine Ecology Research Group (MERG) at the Department of Biology of the University of Malta, and the Malta Centre for Fisheries Sciences (MCFS). It forms part of a wider study on the benthic habitats and biotic assemblages of actual and potential fishing grounds in Malta’s Fisheries Management Zone (FMZ) within the scope of the MEDITS, GRUND and MedSudMed programmes. The project involves a long-term study involving benthic sampling for faunal and sediment analysis using remote operated sampling gear, as well as analysis of the benthic invertebrates collected during the ongoing trawl survey programmes (MEDITS and GRUND). Finding of this research are also published. See project website for further details. [See also Section 3.2 of this report].

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - With regard to establishing and promoting participatory tools and mechanisms to develop and implement integrated land and water use plans, consultation and awareness-raising initiatives focussing on integrated water resource management (under the WFD), also targeting different sectors of the public and various government agencies, are underway, since this is considered as one of the priorities in this sector.

Goal – 6: Control threats to island biological diversity from invasive alien species

Target 6.1: Pathways for major potential alien invasive species are identified and controlled on islands

Target 6.2: Management plans in place and implemented for major alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level – [targets 6.1 and 6.2]

Description of Progress

Management of biological invasions crosscuts a number of fields (e.g. biodiversity conservation, plant and animal health) and a number of sectors (e.g. trade, aquaculture, and tourism). In Malta, several entities are entrusted with the role of controlling the risks associated with invasive alien species.

The Ecosystems Management Unit (EMU) within MEPA is entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation and enforcement of nature protection and wildlife trade legislation. The Authority addresses alien and invasive flora and fauna species from the perspectives of protecting biodiversity (reference is made to Part III of the EPA and LN 107 of 2002). Nature protection legislation in Malta has addressed alien species since 1992. Recently, new provisions have been laid down apart from those calling for the prevention, control and monitoring of introductions, and adoption of eradication plans. By way of the ‘Flora, Fauna and Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006’ (LN 311 of 2006, as amended), possession may now also be prohibited besides importation. Guidelines on the keeping, monitoring, prevention, control, and eradication measures of established alien species may also be issued. The mandate is also in place to refuse a development application on the basis of the possible impact resulting from invasive alien species as per Regulation 18 of LN 311 of 2006 (as amended). In efforts to address IAS and prevent, control and mitigate spread and harm to local biodiversity, the 15 CBD Guidelines (Decision VI/23), as well as strategic guidance by other MEAs to which Malta is a party are followed.

Provisions on the regulation of importation of potentially invasive species are integrated in the regulations on wildlife trade. The CITES Management Authority (within MEPA) liaises closely with the Trade Services Directorate and the Customs Department in the field of import/export and hence interception of invasion species at border controls takes place when necessary. A system is in place for controlling importation of species from non-EU countries. An import license, issued by the Trade Services Directorate in accordance with Regulation 3 of the “Importation Control Regulations, 2004” (LN 242 of 2004, as amended by LN 230 of 2005) is required before animals listed in Schedule II of the said Regulations, can be imported. On the other hand, importation of plant species from non-EU countries currently does not require an import license; nonetheless, importation must be done in conformity with national legislation. The term “Importation” caters for introduction into the EU from third countries; introduction into Malta from EU countries is not importation but movement of goods/products or transport. The CITES Management Authority is assisted by the CITES Scientific Authority, when assessing the invasive potential of species proposed for importation. The precautionary approach is also followed when assessing applications for importation of alien species.

The Plant Health Department (PHD) within the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs (MRRA), is entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating and regulating activities to control the introduction and spread of plant pests as per requirements of national legislation on plant health (the Plant Quarantine Act, 2001 [Act XVIII of 2001, as amended] and subsidiary legislation enacted thereto) and in line with the International Plant Protection Convention and related EU Policy. The Department therefore addresses alien and invasive plant pests from a phytosanitary aspect. The PHD is also the Maltese National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO). Legislation is available online. A review of biological control agents released in Malta is given by Mifsud (2008).

A National Plant Protection Board has been set up in accordance with the Plant Quarantine Act. This Board regularly reviews the state of plant quarantine in Malta on the formulation of policies in this regard, and advises the Minister on any matters with which this Act is concerned. One of the matters addresses is the phytosanitary implications of importing any plant material, plant products, pests, beneficial organisms or soil.

Other relevant entities include the Veterinary Affairs and Fisheries Department in the field of zoosanitation and the Malta Maritime Authority in the field of maritime affairs.

The most thorough seminar on alien species carried out to date was that held in 1996, the proceedings of which have been edited by Baldacchino and Pizzuto (1996) and published. The proceedings provide an important account of alien species in Malta. Issues discussed at the time included the introduction and regulation of alien species, and the need to conserve the local biodiversity from the threats caused by such alien species. Recent outreach initiatives on alien species included a broadcasted debate on a local TV station and publicising the rat control on Selmunett.

The collection of baseline data on alien flora and fauna already present in the Maltese Islands has been commissioned by MEPA with the aim of assessing the status of alien flora and alien fauna that have been introduced to the islands and prioritising action accordingly; the data gathered will be used to develop a national database on alien species. The information obtained through the studies includes various details, including inter alia, species distribution, source of introduction, level of invasiveness, and ease of eradication.

The University of Malta (UoM) was involved in the PORTAL Project (PORT surveys in the Mediterranean Sea for ship-transported Alien organisms) in collaboration with CIESM (International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea). A report on a study of the fouling assemblages within the Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta, by Schembri, Deidun and Muscat (2006), made in connection with Phase 1 of the PORTAL project has been published.

A number of invasive species are being earmarked from removal from a number of protected areas. Monitoring of progress is revealing natural rehabilitation of native vegetation and fauna upon removal of invasive species. Preliminary efforts have been undertaken, or are ongoing, and are aimed at controlling the spread of specific terrestrial invasive plants from earmarked locations in the Maltese Islands such as emergency actions concerning the eradication of Carpobrotus edulis from sand dunes, where it was successfully eradicated from Ir-Ramla tat-Torri (northern coast of the island of Malta) and Ir-Ramla l-Ħamra (along the northern coast of the island of Gozo). Other ongoing activities include the removal of the invasive Arundo donax and Vitis vinifera from Ir-Ramla l-Ħamra, Acacia saligna from Għajn Tuffieħa (western coast of the island of Malta), Agave spp. from Rdum tal-Madonna and the eradication of Rattus norvegicus from Selmunett. The LIFE Funded Garnija Project directed at the conservation of the largest breeding site of the Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) at Rdum tal-Madonna, in the north of Malta, also includes rat eradication in its programme of activities seeing that rats are a direct threat to the chicks of this protected bird. Progress in eradicating rats in this area is documented in the Rat Eradication Report14.

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - The fact that there are no restrictions on intra-community transfer of species that can be potentially invasive in Malta in view of the single EU market15, can lead to costly repercussions especially if invasion is not intercepted and addressed in a timely and coordinated manner. This is especially important considering the insular nature of the country and its particular ecological susceptibility. Malta’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD) acknowledges the risks associated with IAS and calls for the development of a national strategy to control existent IAS and to prevent further introductions. Additional research is required to understand IAS pathways and shed light into effective means of minimising IAS transfer. Research is also required to understand the mechanisms of invasion and ecology of IAS relative to native species, so as to predict which species could turn out to be invasive, apart from aiming to improve the effectiveness of remedial measures. The launching of an IAS campaign targeting a wide audience would be beneficial, including tailored outreach initiatives targeting a number of sectors that promote the undesirable transfer of alien species. Only by informing the public at large on invasive species and their associated risks and consequences, apart from educating on how to minimise such threats, can support be fostered, apart from instilling a sense of responsibility not to spread IAS. Future priorities include:

  • development of an online national database on alien species already present in the Maltese Islands;

  • guidelines on the removal of invasive alien plants;

  • a national strategy on IAS; and

  • continued monitoring to assess invasiveness as well as allow the timely detection of new alien species.

Goal - 7: Address challenges to island biodiversity from climate change, and pollution

Target 7.1: Resilience of the components of biodiversity to adapt to climate change in islands maintained and enhanced

Target 7.2: Pollution and its impacts on island biological diversity significantly reduced

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level – [targets 7.1 and 7.2]

Description of Progress

There are various ongoing afforestation projects that are aimed at increasing the number of trees which would serve as a sink for CO2. MEPA (2008) in the published SOEI on policy responses for 2007, documents a 14% increase in trees planted between 2006 and 2007, with a total of 33,278 trees planted in 2007.A project of afforestation in several areas around the Maltese Islands was launched by the Government in 2003 called “Trees for People”. Other planting campaigns such as the “34U” are also promoted.

During the period 2002-2008 major tree planting activities were carried out by the Department of Parks, Afforestation and Restoration of the Countryside (P.A.R.C. Department) within MRRA. The following sites were targeted for afforestation: Foresta 2000 (l/o Mellieħa); Salini (l/o Qawra), Xrobb l-Għaġin (l/o Marsaxlokk), Wied Blandun (l/o Paola) and Ta’ Qali National Park (l/o Rabat). Proposed indigenous species for planting would be dependent on existent species in the earmarked areas. The P.A.R.C Department has undertaken the production of Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), Holm Oak (Quercus ilex), Sandarac Gum Tree (Tetraclinus articulata), Narrow-Leaved Ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua), White Poplar (Populus alba), Mediterranean Cypress (Cupressus semprevirens) and Maltese Rock-Centaury (Palaeocyanus crassifolius) from seeds/shoots of local stock (source P.A.R.C Department 2009 as part of 4NR consultations).

Other planting activities are undertaken by environmental NGOs. Foresta 2000” is a joint venture between Birdlife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa and the P.A.R.C Department (MRRA). It involves the planting of trees and other native flora, as well as restoration of rubble walls over an area of 104 ha. The intention is to create a Mediterranean woodland that can attract native and endemic fauna. Nature trails will also be planned in the area.

It must be noted that potential impacts on biodiversity of plans, programmes and projects for afforestation is regulated through different aspects of the EPA and the DPA. Afforestation would constitute ‘development’ under certain criteria of the latter Act. In such circumstances, afforestation would be subject to permit from MEPA, in which cases biodiversity considerations are taken into account. Indeed, the ‘Environment Impact Assessment Regulations, 2007’ (LN 114 of 2007) includes provisions related to afforestation and deforestation activities. An Environment Planning Statement (EPS) or an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) would be required depending on the area covered by the afforestation scheme (5 ha or more; more than 25 ha, respectively). Certain deforestation activities are also covered through these Regulations. Afforestation and deforestation projects are also covered through Section 9 of Schedule IA of the above-mentioned Regulations, which refers to developments affecting natural and cultural heritage (such as protected trees and protected copses). Moreover, any afforestation activities located within protected areas declared under various Regulations of the EPA would also be regulated, as for instance would afforestation within Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the ‘Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006’ (LN 311 of 2006, as amended). If such afforestation is not within the management plan of the protected site in question, and is likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects, an appropriate assessment (AA) would be required in order to assess the implications of such operation or activity on the site in view of the its conservation objectives, as per Regulation 19 of the afore-cited Regulations.

Currently, Malta is working on the compilation of the “Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)” as part of a project under UNEP/GEF funding. This second communication will be focusing on vulnerability and adaptation in the Maltese Islands, hence climate change impacts, in relation to various sectors.

Measures on addressing air and water pollution are mentioned in Sections 3.4 and 3.7 of this report.

In Malta, the incorporation of the essential elements of sustainability in waste management policy is done through a process of strategic waste management planning, which includes the preparation of the National Solid Waste Management Strategy for the Maltese Islands. Another important element in ensuring adequate protection of human health and the environment is to have a tight waste management regulatory regime. MEPA is the Competent Authority regulating waste management in the Maltese Islands. MEPA provides for the regulation of all waste management facilities and activities. Information on the various types of permits that are issued by MEPA to facilities and individuals working within the local waste management industry, as well as information about national legislation, plans and policies is provided on MEPA’s web portal on waste.

Extensive activities aimed at enhancing and promoting public awareness and action to minimise, manage and recycle waste have been undertaken by WasteServ Malta Ltd. This company is entrusted with the role of organising, supervising and controlling the provision of major waste management facilities and related services throughout the Maltese Islands. The awareness campaign that is implemented includes delivering talks to schools as well as to organisations including MEPA. WasteServ, in cooperation with a Maltese youth singer, has also released a song entitled ‘Waste Matters’. This song, which is another in a series of initiatives by WasteServ, aims at explaining and emphasising the educational message with regards to the environment and waste separation. WasteServ is also implementing a Battery Buster Campaign, which is being sponsored and supported by FIMBank plc. Initially targeted at school children, the campaign is extending its audience to supermarkets, shopping complexes and other centrally-located retail outlets in Malta and Gozo. The campaign encourages consumers to dispose of their used batteries in an environmentally sustainable manner, while at the same time they are participating in a competition with attractive prizes to be won. WasteServ has also established a network of bring-in sites for the deposit of paper, plastic, metal and glass for recycling and civic amenity sites for the separate collection of bulky waste. A Materials Recovery Facility was also established to enable further sorting of recyclables. A mechanical biological treatment plant shall also be commissioned in 2010; this facility shall enable the generation of energy from waste, as well as compost. Relevant environmental data on waste is also generated and published by the National Statistics Office (Table 9, overleaf):





Waste Disposal - Total quantities of waste treated - NUTS 1 level - Disposal (other than incineration).



Waste Generation - By EWC-STAT codes and economic activities (NACE), amounts in 1000 tonnes per year.



Waste Incineration - Total quantities of waste treated - NUTS 1 level - Incineration



Municipal Waste



Waste Quality Report



Waste Recovery - Total quantities of waste treated - NUTS 1 level - Recovery (excluding energy recovery)



Waste Facilities - Number and capacity of recovery and disposal operations per region


Source: Unit B4: Environment and Resources

Table 9 – Environmental Data generated by the National Statistics Office

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities - Research should target the downscaling of regional climate projections and the development of local scenarios which take into consideration local characteristics throughout various sectors.

Goal – 8: Maintain capacity of island ecosystems to deliver goods and services and support livelihoods

Target 8.1: Capacity of island ecosystems to deliver goods and services maintained or improved

Target 8.2: Biological resources that support sustainable livelihoods, local food security and health care, especially of poor people living on islands, maintained

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [ target 8.1] [ target 8.2]

Description of Progress

Efforts to conserve ecosystems (e.g. saline marshlands and sand dunes) that provide protection against storm surges are ongoing as part of PA management. Valley cleansing activities are carried out to control floods and hence maintain this ecosystem’s functions. Planting activities have also been carried out (such as at Magħtab) to prevent the risk of landslides.

National organisations entrusted with the role of overseeing disaster preparedness, response and mitigation include the Marine and Storm Water Unit, and the Valley Management Unit, both under the Services Division within MRRA. These units are involved in the implementation of marine and storm water infrastructural works, and the maintenance of valleys.

Afforestation activities are also carried out to strengthen the capacity of wooded areas in Malta in Climate Change adaptation. The implementation of agri-environment measures and cross-compliance activities also safeguard the capacity of agroecosystems in food security.

MEPA is currently working on the Water Catchment Management Plan (= River Basin Management Plan). Indeed, a Twinning 'light' project, funded by the Transition Facility Programme for Malta 2006, was implemented between Malta and France during 2009. The overall objective of this project was to achieve compliance with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60/EC pertaining to the preparation of the first River Basin Management Plan.

The National Statistics Office carries out a Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), which serves as a source of statistics on income distribution and aims to provide a complete set of indicators on poverty, social exclusion, pensions and material deprivation. The first survey was conducted in 2005 [see also Press Release 80/2007] and is currently being conducted on an annual basis (The 2007 survey findings are also published).The Ministry for Social Policy has also issued a National Action Plan on Poverty and Social Exclusion 2004-2006 and National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion for 2006-2008 and 2008-2010. These provide an assessment of the social situation in Malta and describe priority policy objectives. The national report for 2008-2010 documents the following: “Malta’s long-term vision remains that of promoting and sustaining a better quality of life for all, particularly for those who are considered to be more vulnerable and therefore at greater risk of social exclusion and poverty.” For the short term16, the strategy for social inclusion integrated in this report, aims to maintain the rate of those experiencing risk of poverty stable at 14.2%17.This goal is complemented by the medium term18 target, to reduce the rate of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion from the present 14.2%. This strategy also aims to address a number of other issues of concern specific to the strategy’s priority objectives, through enhancing children’s social inclusion prospects, promoting active inclusion, and promoting equality of opportunities. See the actual report for further details. Looking at the Survey on Income and Living Conditions 2007 published by the National Statistics Office, 14% (57,440 individuals) of the Maltese population are at risk of poverty.

Obstacles, needs and future priorities – Awareness on biodiversity’s role in natural hazard reduction, and also in underpinning agricultural productivity, and in climate change adaption should be raised further. Additional resource mobilisation is also warranted.

Goal – 9: Maintain socio-cultural diversity of indigenous and local communities on islands

Target 9.1: Measures to protect traditional knowledge, innovations and practices associated with island biological diversity implemented, and the participation of indigenous and local communities in activities aimed at this promoted and facilitated

Target 9.2: Traditional knowledge, innovations and practices regarding island biodiversity respected, preserved and maintained, the wider application of such knowledge, innovations and practices promoted with the prior informed consent and involvement of the indigenous and local communities providing such traditional knowledge, innovations and practices, and the benefits arising from such knowledge, innovations and practices equitably shared

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [targets 9.1 and 9.2]

Description of Progress

Rubble walls characteristically delineate terraced field plots in Malta. ‘Constructed originally from the local limestone, these architectural elements result in a very distinctive landscape that provides continuity with the historic features and fabric of many villages and other urban centres. Over the centuries, terracing and construction of retaining dry rubble walls have allowed the extension of agricultural activities along steep slopes that would have been considered marginal. Traditionally built and well-maintained rubble walls are appreciated for their aesthetic value, their importance as a habitat for many species of flora and fauna, and as soil conservation structures’ (Source: RDP 2007-2013). Since the enactment of the ‘Rubble Walls and Rural Structures (Conservation and Maintenance) Regulations, 1997’ (LN 160 of 1997, as amended), the Government has started investing in the trade of rubble wall builders in order to conserve this trade, as well as restoring and conserving such traditional dry walls which, apart from being an important traditional rural structure (in terms of avoiding soil erosion and desertification), rubble walls also serve as an important ecological corridor and a refuge for a number of endangered terrestrial fauna. Besides being protected structures, under the retention of landscape features, the GAEC standard - Terraced rubble walls should be preserved and maintained in good state – is adopted. Under the RDD 2004-2006, the Restoration of Terraced Rubble Walls sub-measure was by far the most popular with a total of 1,937 applications throughout the three year programming period (Source: RDP 2007-2013). Under RDP 2007-2013 – support for the conservation of rural structures providing a natural habitat for fauna and flora - is adopted as an agri-environment measure under Axis II – Improving the Environment and the Countryside.

Various publications deal with a number of aspects of traditional knowledge and practices in relation to biodiversity; amongst such publications one can mention the works of Gulia (1856, 1859); Borg (1922); Lanfranco (1993) and Pisani (2000). Furthermore, an ethnobotanical survey is being undertaken by a local researcher, who has been gathering ethnobotanical data for 17 years and has started doing so systematically since 1996. This ongoing research consists of semi-structured interviews, including discussions, and participant observation. Most interviewees are farmers and/or herders, and sometimes fishermen and traditional healers. Since traditional knowledge has declined considerably during the past 50 years, informants are usually sought from among the pre-World War II generation. Aspects of biocultural knowledge discussed include: medicinal plants; folk concepts of disease; local cultivars of crops; plants in myth, legend and superstitions; vernacular names and ethnotaxonomy; traditional agricultural practices; traditional methods of pest control; role of plants in animal husbandry, e.g. use of plants for veterinary purposes and fodder; old methods of pest control; fibrecrafts; etc. This research will culminate in the publication of a monograph on the ethnobotany of the Maltese Islands.

Obstacles, Needs and Future priorities – Further encouragement of the uptake of the agri-environment measure would help strengthen the role of farmers as stewards of the Maltese Countryside.

Goal – 10: Ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of island genetic Resources

Target 10.1: All access to genetic resources from islands is in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity and its relevant provisions and, as appropriate and wherever possible, with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and other applicable agreements

Target 10.2: Benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of island biodiversity genetic resources shared in a fair and equitable way with the island countries providing such resources in line with the CBD and its relevant provisions

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [targets 10.1 and 10.2]

Description of Progress - Provisions on access and benefit sharing (ABS) as called for by the CBD are integrated into domestic legislation. Endemic species are assigned a legal status except for those that are common.

Obstacles, needs and future priorities –The national ABS regime will require further development in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Goal – 11 - Parties have improved financial, human, scientific, technical and technological capacity to implement the Convention

Target 11.1: New and additional financial resources are allocated to all islands, in particular small Islands developing States and for developing country Parties, to facilitate the effective implementation of this programme of work and, in general, their commitments under the Convention in accordance with Article 20

Target 11.2: Technologies are transferred to developing country Parties, in particular small island developing States, to allow for the effective implementation of this programme of work and, in general, their commitments under the Convention, in accordance with Article 20, paragraph 4

Target 11.3: Capacity of islands to implement this programme of work on island biological diversity and all its priority activities is significantly strengthened

Assessment of Overall Progress at a National Level - [target 11.3] [targets 11.1 and 11.2]

Description of Progress

Improved Financial Capacity

When considering the engagement of the private sector in biodiversity conservation one can mention the financial support provided by national banks to conservation projects (including in financially assisting the publication of awareness raising material on biodiversity). Some banks have also set up conservation trust funds such as the HSBC Cares for the Environment Fund. Bank of Valletta (BOV plc.) have a number of initiatives that positively impact the environment amongst which one can mention the '34U Campaign in Localities' launched in collaboration with the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs and undertaken in collaboration with various Local Councils. Staff members from Maltese Banks have also participated for instance in conservation activities, as well as in clean-up activities held on World Environment Day (e.g. BOV Clean-up Malta Campaign and the Underwater Clean-up).

The Environment Initiatives Partnership Programme (EIPP) is a scheme for financing environmental projects under MEPA management. The programme is based on the implementation of projects that benefit the natural and cultural heritage of the Maltese Islands through direct and active involvement of other governmental and non-governmental agencies. The monetary resources to fund the programme arise mainly from:

  • planning gains in certain development permit conditions (especially for medium or large-scale projects) seeing that development, even when acceptable in principle, has an impact on environmental resources and society (e.g. indirect effects on natural resources or infrastructure); planning gain is a legally-enabled concept that seeks to secure some environmental benefit in return;

  • forfeited bank guarantees, which are penalties incurred by developers for breaching permit conditions; the bank guarantee itself is not a funding source, but is intended as a deterrent against infringement of permit conditions; in the event of default, confiscated funds are used to remedy damage and/or for other environmental purposes.

Improved Human Capacity

At a national level, informal ad hoc intergovernmental

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