Fourth National Report to the cbd – malta executive Summary

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partnerships are established, whereas formalised partnerships between the government and NGOs are established in the form of legal contracts. MEPA in its capacity as a regulator of environmental law, including on biodiversity, liaises with a number of entities that are involved in enforcement activities, such as the Customs Division and the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit. Sectoral memoranda of understanding (MoU) are also being established e.g. the MoU established between MEPA and the Malta Resources Authority with regards to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Malta. A Marine Protected Area Steering Committee has been established to tackle issues related to the marine environment, particularly within marine protected areas, however, other areas are also being considered. MEPA also liaises with a number of entities (e.g. with the Malta Centre for Fisheries Sciences - MCFS) in the rehabilitation of marine turtles that have been injured for instance by fishing activities, as well as in addressing strandings.

The staff complement working within the Ecosystems Management Unit (EMU) within MEPA has also more than doubled since 2001. The EMU coordinates activities, policy and strategies related to MEPA's response in the areas of ecosystems management, nature protection, GMOs and biosafety. This includes, amongst others, issues related to the EC Habitats Directive and the Natura 2000 Network of Protected Areas, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), terrestrial and marine protected areas, habitat and species protection and management, nature permitting applications and processes (including CITES) and the implementation and follow-up of EU-funded projects related to biodiversity and nature protection.

Improved Scientific, Technical and Technological Capacity

The Maltese Islands are used as the unit for spatial planning, with due consideration to environmental requirements as set out by the Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands and its seven Local Plans. With regard to mainstream biodiversity into integrated planning, this is achieved via provisions under the DPA and EPA as well as the designation of areas of ecological importance (AEIs) and Sites of Scientific Interest (SSIs) where stricter development control is exercised. Public consultations are carried out in both EIA and SEA procedures [See Section 3.6 on Development Control and Land Use Planning of this report].

Apart from national indicators on the state of the environment, work on sustainability indicators has been carried out in the past through work carried out by the Sustainable Indicators – Malta Observatory (SI-MO) hosted by the Islands and Small States Institute within the Foundation for International Studies. The SI-MO project (Nov 2000 – Nov 2002) was carried out in connection with the Mediterranean Environmental Reporting Monitoring and Information System (MED-ERMIS). SI-MO’s work to conduct research and development work and, to disseminate information on Sustainability Indicators for Malta was divided into seven work-packages. Work-package One (WP1) related to the identification of data collection and systematic reporting on environmental indicators for air, aquatic and terrestrial environments. One of the themes which were addressed, and for which indicators were designed, included “biological diversity and ecosystems”.

Various twinning missions have been carried out in partnership with foreign and local entities, including on enforcement. Certain entities, such as MEPA and Customs Division, also provide in-house training to their staff. For instance, trade regulations are included in the training curricula of the Customs Division. The Customs Training Unit also regularly conducts an organisational training needs analysis upon which the yearly training plan is based.

MEPA has participated in the project entitled “Mediterranean Collaboration on Small Mediterranean Islands” under the PIM funding mechanism. Via this project, Malta received assistance in relation to the species assessments, interpretation of habitats, management of protected areas and biodiversity monitoring.

Support to Developing Countries

Malta as part of the European Community provides external assistance to developing countries in implementing their commitments under the CBD.

Obstacles, needs and future priorities – More enabling activities for the implementation of the CBD PoW on Island Biodiversity are definitely needed, including better networking and resource mobilisation. Although monitoring activities are carried out, such as in PAs, or else targeting specific species, a national biodiversity monitoring strategy is crucial. Innovative ways of engaging the private sector in biodiversity conservation endeavours are needed. To improve CITES-related compliance, Malta has recently set up a National Compliance Committee, composed of Customs and Police officials, together with officials from the CITES Management Authority, amongst others. This Committee is planning to shortly adopt a national action plan for the co-ordination of compliance.

2.2 Progress in Implementing National Recommendations on Biodiversity

2.2.1 State of the Environment Reports for Malta

Since 1998, Malta has published reports documenting the state of the environment (SOER) including the state of biodiversity during the reporting period. The SOER of 1998 and 2002 provided in-depth analyses of various sectors that in a way or another impact biodiversity. Each report puts forward a suite of recommendations for bringing forth the conservation of biodiversity in Malta. In certain cases recommendations are also aimed at mainstreaming biodiversity into sectors, in particular agriculture and fisheries. The most recent SOER, which was published in 2005, adopted a new approach focussing on providing easily understandable information to policy makers, organisations and the general public, contrary to the more technical information provided by its preceding reports. Apart from data gathering and presentation, such reports have also presented recommendations for the development of new policy directions. The 2005 SOER is supplemented by the 2006 and 2007 State of the Environment Indicators (SOEI), which update the set of indicators that were published in 2005. These indicators provide concise information on key environmental trends to policymakers, organisations and the public in an active, user-friendly and systematic way. (Refer to the SOEI 2006 and SOEI 2007) [See Chapter 1 of this report for an overview].

In view of the ongoing development of the NBSAP, an evaluation of progress made in implementing SOER recommendations was carried out so as to identify gaps in implementation that would then be covered by the implementation of the NBSAP. A summary of recommendations relating specifically to biodiversity issues is provided below, along with whether it was successfully implemented. Recommendations targeting sectors are evaluated in Chapter 3 of this report.


Recommendation being successfully implemented

Ongoing work but recommendation not yet fully implemented

Recommendation not being successfully implemented

Summary of SOER Recommendations specific to Biodiversity



The rich biodiversity of the Maltese Islands should be better publicised as an important component of our national heritage. Endemic species in particular should be regarded with the same esteem as are other unique features of the national heritage. In particular, most should be granted a ‘protected species’ status, in order to safeguard them and highlight their importance and uniqueness – SOER 1998 & 2002

Various CEPA activities have been carried out, including the publication of a series of posters, including a poster on endemic species published in 2007 (Figure 15). Endangered endemics are protected under the ‘Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Regulations, 2006’ (LN 311 of 2006 – Regulation 26, as amended)

EkoSkola – Environmental Management in Schools - is a national school framework coordinated by Nature Trust Malta (NTM) with the support of the EkoSkola National Steering Committee (ENSC). It provides targeted environment education and forms part of the Ministry’s strategy to adopt Agenda 21 locally. It is Malta’s version of the international programme called “Eco-Schools”. EkoSkola aims to inter alia raise environmental awareness through school and classroom activities and extra-curricular events, as well as encouraging the school community to play a more active role in environmental decision-making. “A total of 54 schools are now involved, 11 more than in 2005/2006, which amounts to approximately 25% of all schools, most of which provide primary education (and does not include other schools that may be implementing environment-friendly measures but are not participating in this programme). During the 2006/2007 scholastic year, about 24,500 students were involved in the programme through their schools, 7,500 more than in the previous scholastic year.” (Source: SOEI 2007 – Schools covered by EkoSkola)

The first edition of Dinja Waħda (One World) was in 1994 targeting more than 50% of all the primary schools. During the time, 14 activities were undertaken to promote pro-environmental behaviour that varied from simple tasks (e.g. drawing a poster) to more demanding ones (e.g. organising a clean-up campaign). Nowadays 30 green activities, including school visits at the SACs and SPAs l-Għadira and Is-Simar, and which are included in an Action Plan, are offered to primary schools. Upon completion of each activity, a school is rewarded points. Awards (gold, silver, bronze and merit) are given to those schools that have gathered the majority of points by the end of the year. Bank of Valletta has also been appointed as the education partner of this education programme, which is led by BirdLife Malta.

[See also responses to PoWs on Island Biodiversity, GSPC and Protected Areas]

Research aimed at gaining a better understanding of the diversity of the biota of the Maltese Islands should be promoted and funded. In particular, funding should address existing gaps in knowledge – SOER 1998 & 2002

A series of studies have been commissioned by MEPA to increase an understanding of Maltese biodiversity. Further knowledge is gained via university dissertations, funded projects, studies carried out by national experts in their own personal capacity as well as through findings of EIAs.

EU funds that support research are also available. The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is the national advisory body to Government on science and technology policy. MCST’s tasks also inter alia include the responsibility for the National Strategy for Research and Innovation for 2007-2010, entitled ‘Building and Sustaining the Research and Innovation (R&I) Enabling Framework’ and the responsibility as National Contact Organisation for creating awareness and providing support for EU’s Research and Development Framework Programme (FP7)

Malta is a member of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS). The Malta National Biodiversity Platform was launched on 27th of October 2003 as part of a European funded project.

Various national research institutions also contribute towards strengthening an understanding of Maltese biodiversity and some also participate in regional research projects (apart from academic research at a national level). Amongst such entities one can mention the Department of Biology within the University of Malta (UoM) and the Institute for Environmental Studies. The UoM has established a number of Institutes (e.g. the International Environment Institute, the Institute for Islands & Small States and the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Insular Coastal Dynamics), which combine research and teaching in varying degrees. Environmental NGOs also carry out research.

[See also responses to PoWs on Island Biodiversity, GSPC and Protected Areas]

Figure 15 - Poster on Endemic Species

Existing inventories and databases of local biota should be reviewed, updated and extended to cover the whole of the Maltese Islands and their territorial waters. The Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands should be revised, updated and published with urgency – SOER 1998 & 2002

Work is in progress - The National Database on Biodiversity will be developed using the data collated though the studies that have been commissioned by MEPA. Deliverables of some studies have included databases dealing with specific taxonomic groups developed in MS Access format. These will be centralised in the national biodiversity database.

A short intensive training course on how to establish national biodiversity inventories was given to MEPA officers by RAC-SPA in 2008.

The updating of the RDB is envisaged through the development of Red Data Lists. Work has been initiated through the afore-mentioned commissioned studies. Datasheets will be prepared for every threatened species.

Threatened species of local biota, and the majority of endemic species, should be included in the list of protected species. Different species should be given different protection ratings depending on their particular conservation status – SOER 1998

Legislative texts are accompanied by lists of protected species as schedules. Levels of protection are applied in terms of whether strictly protected or else whether covered by provisions on sustainable use. As afore-mentioned, since 1998 there was a highly significant increase in the number of protected species.

Locally occurring habitats and ecosystems of international importance, particularly in the Mediterranean region, should be protected as required by the various conventions and agreements to which Malta is party, and managed according to internationally accepted standards – SOER 1998

Important habitats have been protected through legislation which calls for the designation of protected areas covering such habitat types. Significant progress has been achieved in developing Malta’s Ecological Network of Protected Areas. Work is ongoing to complete the system of marine protected areas [See also response to goal 1 of CBD PoW on Island Biodiversity in Chapter 2; and Appendix III(b)].

The Environment Protection Act 1991 should be reviewed and revised in order to remedy certain deficiencies and bring it in line with modern international practice. In particular, the designation ‘Nature Reserve’ in the Environment Protection Act 1991 should be totally revised as it does not conform to internationally accepted definitions of nature reserves. It is strongly recommended that the various categories of protected areas that are internationally accepted and used, be incorporated into local legislation (the Environment Protection Act 1991). Schedule IV sites declared as ‘Nature Reserves’ (in effect ‘Tree Reserves’) by the Tree and Woodland Protection Regulations should be mapped as soon as possible, in order to effectively protect the sites listed, and render the provisions of Schedule IV enforceable – SOER 1998 & SOER 2002

The EPA has been reviewed – CAP. 435 - Act XX of 2001 Environment Protection Act, which was subsequently amended by Act II of 2006 (with respect to Article 9).

A Better Regulation Initiative is ongoing and consists of reviewing legislation based on experiences gained to date in implementing and enforcing the respective regulations. With regards to the ‘Tree and Woodland Protection Regulations, 2001’ (LN 12 of 2001) these have been revised with the intention of repeal and replacement (reference is made to GN 682 of 2008). Tree Protection Areas have been mapped and will be published along with the revised legislation. Public consultation on the repeal of LN 12 of 2001 has also been carried and involved a seminar.

Certain discrepancies between the Environment Protection Act 1991 and the Development Planning Act 1992 and subsidiary legislation should be resolved – SOER 1998

Discrepancies were addressed via repeal and replacement and/or amendments.

One of the activities envisaged via the MEPA Reform is that of harmonising the DPA and EPA into a single Act that re-establishes MEPA and defines its core functions, role and responsibilities in promoting sustainable development.

Malta’ implementation of the various international conventions and agreements concerned with the protection of nature and natural resources to which it is party should be reviewed. This review should also include sites and species declared under these conventions – SOER 1998 & 2002

An evaluation of species of international importance afforded legal protection nationally has been undertaken under the SOER 2005 process and recently updated [See response to goal 1 of CBD PoW on Island Biodiversity in Chapter 2].

Ongoing review as part of a Better Regulation Initiative

Local agencies that have the responsibility of implementing the various international conventions and agreements concerned with the protection of nature and natural resources to which Malta is party, should be given the necessary resources to carry out the required work. In some cases, implementation requires the concerted efforts of a number of different agencies, in which case the necessary administrative machinery for taking such concerted action should be set up – SOER 1998 & 2002

Although some investments in resources have been made, such as recruitment of staff and capacity building measures, additional resources are needed especially in the field of monitoring and enforcement.

An official policy concerning the importation of alien species for commercial and other purposes needs to be formulated and local legislation enacted and/or amended accordingly.

All efforts should be made to prevent invasion of natural ecosystems by aliens and genetic contamination of native species, subspecies, races, varieties and stock by alien genetic material. Apart from other implications, the use of Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) poses a potential threat to natural ecosystems and their biota and therefore GMOs should be included in any policy and/or legislation on alien species. Where local ecosystems have become invaded by alien species, all efforts should be made to eradicate the invaders and to prevent reinvasion – SOER 1998 & 2002

Alien species and GMOs are treated by separate legislative texts enacted under the EPA and DPA, as well as relevant legal texts under the responsibility of other Governmental Departments – for instance legislation on plant health and phytosanitation are administered by the Plant Health Department.

The policy concerning the importation of alien species is defined by legal provisions that are in line with EU obligations. Various entities are involved in overseeing the implementation of preventive and control measures in the field of nature protection, trade, phytosanitation, zoosanitary measures and maritime issues. The use and release of GMOs also falls under the responsibility of more than one Competent Authority.

Efforts to eradicate invasive species mainly deal with plant invaders within protected areas. The eradication of Rattus spp. from islets (and Rdum tal-Madonna) has also been initiated with successful eradication reported for Selmunett.

Existing inventories (including cartographic ones and GIS databases) of local habitats and biocoenoses should be reviewed, updated and extended to cover the whole of the Maltese Islands and their territorial waters, and aligned to international land use and biotope classifications, with possible local adaptations – SOER 1998 & 2002

The MEPA Map Server is the online Geographic Information System (GIS) developed and used by MEPA. It provides mapping data, aerial photography and planning information to all internet users via an interactive map. It is possible to search for streets, view aerial photographs, look up planning applications and enforcement actions. One is also able to access other spatial environmental data, including habitat types (terrestrial & some marine) and protected area boundaries. Research on marine habitats is gradually increasing yet more is required in order to strengthen existing knowledge.

Further work was carried out via Article 17 reporting obligations stemming from the Habitats Directive.

Scientifically important, rare, and/or threatened ecosystems and habitats and areas with complexes of such ecosystems and habitats that are not already legally protected should be should be included in the list of protected sites; Locally occurring habitats and ecosystems of international importance, particularly in the Mediterranean region, should be protected as required by the various conventions and agreements to which Malta is party, and managed according to internationally accepted standards – SOER 1998

Since 1998 major progress has been achieved in the number of species and habitats that have been afforded legal protection, by way of updated legislation and a significant increase in protected area coverage.

The legal basis for designating protected areas is provided by national subsidiary legislation enacted under the EPA and DPA. Designation is done in compliance with the various MEAs, including the CBD, to which Malta is a Party. Some areas fall under more than one designation, thereby giving them protection on multiple fronts. Maps of designated areas are included in published legal and government notices.

Marine protected areas should be declared – SOER 1998

This is an ongoing process. To date there are three marine protected areas (with one being designated a marine SAC in the Natura 2000 Network); Malta is currently working to designate other areas.

Bodies, governmental or non-governmental, entrusted with the management of a protected site should be closely monitored by the central authority responsible for protected sites to ensure that national policy is being met. It is recommended that a Board of Management for each protected site be set up – SOER 1998

PA/Site managers are required to submit an annual report of progress made in implementing conservation measures aimed at the maintenance or recovery of biodiversity within the designated site in question.

MEPA is the central authority on the designation and management of SACs and SPAs, but more coordination is required between different entities involved in site management.

Deficiencies in the present legislation regulating hunting and trapping need to be addressed – SOER 1998

Deficiencies in the 1996 regulations were addressed through the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations, 2006 (LN 79 of 2006) and its amendments.

An official policy, backed by legislation, concerning the exploitation of wildlife (other than hunting and trapping) needs to be formulated – SOER 1998

Work has been initiated on developing a dossier on the exploitation of wild fauna aimed at proposing a number of measures that would contribute to strengthen the strict protection regime in line with the EC Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC). This Dossier will set the basis for developing more detailed biodiversity action plans.

All regulations concerning biota and habitats need to be effectively enforced – SOER 1998

A higher degree of horizontal enforcement and increase in resource mobilisation and strengthening of existing collaboration are needed to control and limit possible malpractices. Indeed, one of the activities envisaged via the MEPA Reform is that of more effective enforcement. Indeed enforcement has been identified as one of the pillar of the Reform process – ‘The fourth pillar of this reform focuses on the actions required in order to ensure that the regulator’s activities are indeed effective. Land and natural resources being both limited resources on the Maltese Islands makes the regulation of land use and activities affecting the environment very critical. The success of the reform and more importantly the effectiveness of MEPA’s regulation are dependent upon the establishment of a robust enforcement regime in order to secure respect to the sustainability principle.’

An official nation-wide ‘vision’, with stated national objectives and strategies concerning Malta’s biodiversity (and environment in general) is urgently required. A Maltese ‘Biodiversity Strategy’ should be adopted as soon as possible – SOER 2002

Work has proceeded on the development of Malta’s NBSAP. So far a number of consultation exercises have been carried out to gather the necessary information basis. An evaluation exercise of progress made to date in implementing national recommendations, and also relevant CBD PoWs, has been carried out in order to identify any gaps that would need to be addressed by the NBSAP. This CBD 4th National Report (4NR) provides an overview of such assessment.

Resources and infrastructure, including funds and the human resources, should be appropriately increased and ameliorated so as to cater for the considerable work related to nature protection. A well-trained, well-remunerated scientific civil service should be set up, such as exists in other countries – SOER 2002

By and large, officials working in governmental departments have a scientific background (Diploma, BSc, MSc or PhD degree in some biology-related discipline). Staff within the Ecosystems Management Unit within MEPA has more than doubled since 2001. Additional training of staff has either been achieved via a hands-on approach or else attained via attendance to twinning missions comprising mainly presentations on conservation issues and legislation coupled with field activities, or else in the form of attendance to tailored courses both nationally and abroad.

There should be better communication between the many different institutions [environment protection, development planning and land-use, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, maritime affairs, public research institutions, public health, law enforcement, museums, etc.] whose work in some way involves living resources – SOER 2002

Some networks at a national level (both informal and those that are formally established via a committee) exist, amongst which one can mention those between:

  • MEPA and the CITES Scientific Authority – mainly in connection with taxonomy and wildlife trade issues;

  • MEPA and the Argotti Botanic Garden and University Herbarium – mainly in connection with plant conservation and reinforcement programmes;

  • MEPA and the Plant Health Department – mainly in connection with the propagation of plant species (with relevant permits and guidance provided by MEPA accordingly);

  • MEPA and the Customs Division with respect to CITES implementation and enforcement;

  • MEPA and the Malta Resources Authority with respect to the implementation of the WFD;

  • NGOs and the UoM with respect to dissertations undertaken in protected areas;

  • Fisheries Department and Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) with respect to enforcement at sea;

  • MEPA and the Veterinary Services with respect to the treatment of injured wild animals particularly marine turtles;

  • MEPA and Animal Welfare particularly in the control and eradication of IAS (e.g. feral pigeons, ducks and geese)

  • Various entities are involved in implementing the Code of Practice on Cetacean Stranding;

  • MEPA and the P.A.R.C. department with regard to the removal of eyesores from the countryside such as the removal of oil drums on rubble walls.

There should be strengthening of the existing infrastructure for biological collections, and the transfer of modern technologies for taxonomic research and capacity-building should be encouraged and supported. Responsible authorities should adopt internationally agreed levels of collection housing (climate control, fire protection systems, pest control, acceptable levels of workplace health and safety) that ensure protection of collections and the well-being of all people working on and/or accessing the collections, and avoid further loss of collections valuable for biodiversity study and protection – SOER 2002

Preliminary discussions were held with concerned entities on strengthening the infrastructure of biological collections.

In 2005 the project "A Biological Collection Access Service for Europe (BIOCASE)" financed by the 5th Framework Programme (FP5), was completed. MEPA was the National Node for Malta. Through BioCASE, collectors had the opportunity to describe the nature of their collections (both flora and fauna).

A seed bank has been established at the Argotti Botanical Gardens however seed collection and storage are still in the preliminary phases.

National, and possibly regional, training programmes on local biological diversity should be developed at different education levels. This is particularly relevant for staff of the main governmental institutions – SOER 2002

Training as continued professional development and selected in-house training within certain organisations (e.g. MEPA, Customs Division) are promoted. Environment officers and other government officials may attend training workshops abroad. Training is also acquired via EU funded Twinning Missions in partnership with other countries. NGOs may also participate in other capacity-building training.

A local ‘Clearing-House Mechanism’ web-site on the lines set in the Convention on Biological Diversity should be set up. Appropriate use of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Clearing-House Mechanism for the dissemination and analysis of taxonomic information should be encouraged – SOER 2002

MEPA’s portal on biodiversity serves as Malta’s CHM. This portal is currently being updated and revamped.

The Planning Authority and the Environment Protection Department should as a matter of priority finalise the draft EIA Regulations – SOER 1998

Environmental Assessment related legislation has been finalised and even reviewed in order to strengthen provisions. Capacity-building has also been carried out. Quality of EIAs submitted to MEPA is assessed by its Environmental Assessment Unit.

[See Section 3.6.1 of this Report]

A national study on the environmental impact of quarrying and on the state of the local quarrying industry is urgently required – SOER 1998

Such a study has been carried out via the Structure Plan Review Process: Minerals Subject Plan. This plan documents the following:

“Environmental protection is a priority for this Minerals Subject Plan and the development control framework seeks to protect scheduled sites. It also seeks to protect environmental capital, such as agriculture, landscape, and water supplies, as well as the Maltese population through the control of site operations that may cause disturbance. This control is essential for the sustainable development of this industry. Priority is also given to site restoration and policies are formulated to seek to improve on current practice.”

Further information on quarrying is available on MEPA’s Portal on Minerals.

Existing treaties should be transposed into local legislation and implemented, especially the provisions related to alien species included in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Bern Convention and the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean of the Barcelona Convention – SOER 2002

These have all been transposed into national legislation.

A nature wardening or ranger service should be set up as soon as possible, and fees (‘multi’) should be increased for infringement of particular regulations, so as to provide an effective disincentive – SOER 2002

The Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) within the Police Force fulfils this function in terms of enforcement but additional resources are still required. Although a step in the right direction has been taken to recruit environmental wardens in order to enforce certain provisions relating to environmental regulations, there is a need to train them and to widen their role to encompass conservation and nature protection functions.

The new proposed Act dealing with environment protection specifically addresses the issue of enforcement.

Valuable trees should be identified and afforded protection through legislation – SOER 1998

Done initially via the ‘Trees and Woodland Protection Regulations, 2001’ (LN 12 of 2001) and further strengthened via a repeal and replacement process, which is nearing finalisation; this included the mapping of Tree Protection Areas.

Information on the environment (especially data on environmental quality) should be made public and access to all records facilitated. Public entities should be encouraged to make use of the latest technology to facilitate public access to information and justice – SOER 2002

There has been significant progress in this field. For instance the National Ecological Network on Protected Areas is available online; Regulations on access to information in compliance with the Aarhus Convention have been enacted (‘Freedom of Access to Information on the Environment Regulations, 2005’ – LN 116 of 2005). A system is in place within the Ecosystems Management Unit (MEPA) to process Requests for Information (RFIs) on biodiversity-related issues. There are also plans to develop a National Database on Biodiversity, which would be available online.

Malta should ratify and implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in order to prevent any possible invasive behaviour of GMOs – SOER 2002

Malta ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on 5 January 2007 and it entered into force for Malta on 5 April 2007.

For every protected area of whatever status, a management plan should be formulated, and a body or agency charged with its implementation. A monitoring programme to ensure that the objectives of the plan are being met should be set up. Any deficiencies should be assessed and addressed. Existing management plans for protected sites should be revised and updated. In particular there needs to be a clear statement of the objectives of the protected site on which to base management. – SOER 1998

Declaring protected areas is not enough; it is also necessary to manage, monitor, draw up action plans, protect and enforce all the legal requirements for the protection of the site. This is also an obligation of a number of international conventions to which Malta is a party. Therefore all protected areas should have an associated management plan to include these requirements – SOER 2002

MEPA has submitted an application for funds under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) for a project to establish a framework for the management of all terrestrial Natura 2000 sites in the Maltese Islands and to increase awareness of Natura 2000 amongst the general public and stakeholders.

A management framework and an action plan for two MPAs have been approved. These include measures on how to protect the areas from threat, enhance the marine environment, stakeholder involvement and also propose different zones within the marine environment. Such zones are proposed to have different regulations that would range from a “no-entry & no-take” status to “entry-take” status. The involvement of stakeholders in the management of MPAs is being currently discussed.

Although most of the sustainability indicators developed to monitor and report on the conservation and use of biodiversity are inter-related, Malta needs to commence data collection according to international standardised procedures, including CORINE procedures and IUCN criteria. However, it should also be borne in mind that many of the criteria employed by the OECD, United Nations (including the Convention on Biological Diversity and Mediterranean Action Plan), and the European Union are not suitable for the Maltese Islands, either because of the very small size of the Maltese archipelago, or else because of differences in the economic infrastructure. In this respect local versions of indicators should be developed, as close as possible to the original indicators, in order to allow comparability – SOER 2002

CORINE data collection is an ongoing process and is also reported in SOERs and available for viewing on MEPA’s Map Server.

Selected biodiversity indicators compiled in Malta include the following:

  • Habitat protection coverage by main habitat groups within Natura 2000 sites (considers the habitats in Annex I of the Habitats Directive);

  • Wetlands of the Maltese Islands

  • Species of international importance protected by national legislation – to be updated

  • Endemic species (including a case study on the status of Helichrysum melitense)

  • Status of selected groups of species (including selected vertebrates, insects, flora)

  • Status of selected habitats

  • Exploited species (including a case study on Discoglossus pictus)

  • Soil biodiversity

  • Alien flora (in relation to their mode of introduction)

  • Sites proposed / designated as part of the Natura 2000 network

  • Natural areas designated and managed

Further indicators shall be considered especially in line with the process of Streamlining European 2010 Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI 2010).

Incentive measures should be introduced as a ‘soft’ method to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The introduction of appropriate financial incentives, including fiscal measures such as tax deductions, should be explored – SOER 2002

Some incentive measures are in place e.g. the incentive directed at fishermen to land injured turtles for their safe rehabilitation and release back into the wild. More work is needed though.

The ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ should be rapidly introduced to cover activities affecting biodiversity – SOER 2002

The recently enacted ‘Prevention and Remedying of Environmental Damage Regulations, 2008’ (LN 126 of 2008) are in force.

The possibility of public-private partnerships for increasing investments in biodiversity relevant projects and programmes should be more thoroughly explored – SOER 2002

An example of a successful public-private partnership is what is known as the Malta Embellishment and Landscaping Project (MELP). The latter started operation on 1 November 2002 under the first agreement of a public-private partnership in Malta. The Environment Landscapes Consortium Ltd (ELC Malta) was chosen to run the function of the Urban and Rural Landscaping (URL) Section which was responsible for the urban and rural landscaping of various sites in Malta that fall under the responsibility of the Central Government. As a result of the agreement, all employees with URL, together with all operating sites and equipment, were loaned to the Consortium. The role of the Consortium under the agreement is:

  • the embellishment of traffic islands, gardens, valleys and roundabouts, particularly by means of fountains and floral displays;

  • the landscaping of major thoroughfares, public gardens and parks that fall under the responsibility of the Government;

  • the carrying out of other landscaping and gardening operations, such as upgrading works in housing estates, environmental projects and upgrading works at main touristic areas;

  • the improvement of afforested areas;

  • the landscaping of specified public gardens;

  • the development of the resources of Wied Incita Nursery and any other Government nursery to provide for the requirements of any assignment, undertaking or project under this Agreement; and

  • any other assignment, undertaking or project as may be required by the Government from time to time,

The project is supervised by a Monitoring Unit. A Monitoring Board controls the running of the agreement. After five years the agreement was improved and extended up to the end of 2012.

Other forms of public-private partnerships in Malta include the financial support provided by local banks to conservation projects. In certain cases, staff time has also been devoted to participating in conservation projects.

More innovative ways are needed to further engage private entities.

As a sound basis for policymaking, there is a need for more baseline and trend data about Malta’s biological heritage … there is also need for wider and continuous monitoring of the condition of Malta’s natural heritage – SOER 2005

The first assessment in line with Article 17 of the EC Habitats Directive has established the baseline for gathering future trend data on species and habitats of Community interest;

Other species and habitats (i.e. those not covered by the Habitats Directive) are surveyed on an ad hoc basis.

Communication, awareness-raising and educational measures are also required to complement activities related to monitoring, designation and management of protected areas and species – SOER 2005

Information on species has been disseminated through the publication of awareness-raising material (posters, coasters, bookmarks and calendars) and during seminars/ conferences held, as well as broadcasted on TV and radio programmes.

A number of activities are also envisaged via the Natura 2000 communication campaign under proposed EAFRD project.

A quantitative field study on “The awareness of Natura 2000 among the Adult Maltese population” was commissioned by MEPA and completed in April 2008.

Malta also participates in the Green Spider Network (GSN).

2.2.2 National Strategy for Sustainable Development

Sustainable development in Malta is advocated by the National Commission for Sustainable Development (NCSD). This Commission was also responsible for the development of the National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSSD), which was adopted by the Commission in 2006 and by the Cabinet of Ministers in 2007. It is currently being updated with a view to publication. With regard to biodiversity, Malta’s NSSD calls for the development of the NBSAP and lays down a set of strategic directions aimed at biodiversity conservation. The NSSD identified 20 priority areas under each of the three pillars of sustainable development. The 8 priority areas focussing on the environment are shown hereunder (Table 10, overleaf) along with the main strategic directions for each priority area, which the NCSD considered as warranting foremost attention for the attainment of sustainable development goals in Malta.

The indicators set for the Policy Area on “Nature and Biodiversity” are the following:

  • ‘the proportion of surface area protected and managed to the total surface area of the Maltese Islands’, and

  • ‘trends in abundance, distribution and status of selected species (priority protected/threatened species)’.

Priority Area under the Environmental Pillar

Main Strategic Direction

Climate Change

Take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through transport policy and an energy policy that seeks to promote environmental protection, competitiveness and security of supplies and, as a result, decouple the rate of growth of GHG emissions from economic growth.

Air Quality

Take remedial action to control emissions of air pollutants (ambient levels of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, lead, ozone, heavy metals and nitrogen oxides), and achieve compliance with European standards.

Nature and Biodiversity

Halt loss of biodiversity by 2010, and achieve management of protected areas by 2008.


Adopt a policy with the aim of ensuring the utilisation of water resources in a manner that is environmentally and economically sustainable, while safeguarding the water needs of the population, and of the agricultural, commercial and industrial sectors, and achieve good quantitative status by 2015.


Sustain compliance with the Bathing Water Directive and achieve compliance with Barcelona Convention standards.


Prevent and minimise waste by achieving EU waste-related objectives and targets, reviewing Malta’s Waste Management Strategy by 2007.

Land use

Protect, maintain and improve the urban and rural environment and, through the planning system, protect the open countryside from uses, particularly residences, which can be more appropriately located in urban areas.


Reduce car ownership rates to the EU average by 2014. Attain 1995 bus patronage levels by 2014 (40 million passengers).

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