The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) was granted €1.3 million through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to co-finance a project in order to meet the obligations emanating from the Habitats and Birds Directives. The overall aim of this project was to establish management plans and legal provisions 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. The project was formally launched by MEPA in January 2013.
Malta has to date, designated a total of 34 terrestrial Natura 2000 sites covering 13% of the total land area. For management purposes some sites have been grouped together as one site resulting in a set of 30 sites requiring management provisions. For 8 of these sites it was decided that a Conservation Order would be a more effective management tool, whilst a management plan was compiled for each of the 22 remaining sites. The management planning exercise involved gathering information, carrying out surveys, defining conservation objectives and identifying management measures, with intensive stakeholder involvement throughout the entire exercise.
A secondary component of the service contract involved an awareness campaign on terrestrial Natura 2000 sites in the Maltese Islands amongst the public at large and amongst specific target groups, such as farmers and land managers.
The project was implemented through the collaboration between MEPA and Epsilon International SA – Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd Consortium through a service contract.
The preparation of management plans emanates from a legal requirement to prepare conservation measures for protected sites under the Environment and Development Planning Act, as transposed from the EU’s Habitat’s Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC).