Situated at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta lies between continental Europe and Africa. Due to its geographical location, it has an array of endemic species of biogeographical interest that have special affinities with both the North and South, and East and West Mediterranean. The Maltese Archipelago consists of a group of low-lying islands, covering an area of around 316 kilometres squared, making it not only one of the smallest countries in the world, but with a population of 430,000 inhabitants, it is also one of the most densely populated with its inhabitants living on the three largest islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Il-Qarraba Headland (Għajn Tuffieħa)

Despite its small terrestrial area, the Maltese Islands not only have a rich prehistoric past, but also harbour exceptional biodiversity, with a vast array of native and endemic species, consisting mainly of plants and invertebrates.

Malta is currently undertaking various activities that contribute towards the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets and implementation of Malta’s National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (NBSAP). In recent years, there have been a growing number of awareness and educational events and a greater uptake of research projects and use of funds. Progress has also been made towards strengthening of the legal regime affording protection to species, momentum in the implementation of the management planning process for terrestrial protected areas falling under the Natura 2000 Network, as well as further designations in the marine environment and relevant management. What's more, Malta continues to mainstream biodiversity in key sectoral policy instruments, such as in climate change adaptation and in proposals on spatial planning.

Malta has recently set out ecological priorities for the management of all terrestrial Natura 2000 sites through the adoption of 22 management plans and 8 conservation orders, addressing important and urgent challenges to safeguard the ecological qualities of each site. This achievement was possible through the project ‘Management Planning and Implementation of Communication Measures for Terrestrial Natura 2000 Sites in the Maltese Islands’ co-financed under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, a project which has won the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) Best Practice Award for Stakeholder Engagement 2016.

In 2016, in the marine environment, Malta committed a major increase in the cover of marine protected areas by designating an additional 3,450km2 to form part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 Network. This comes as a result of two EU LIFE+ projects, namely LIFE+ MIGRATE (focusing on dolphins and turtles), and LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project (focusing on seabirds). These new sites are in addition to the five marine Natura 2000 sites already in place, based primarily on the presence of Posidonia meadows. Altogether, marine protected sites cover 30% of Maltese waters, equivalent to 11 times the size of the Maltese Islands.

During the first half of 2017, Malta, which is the smallest EU Member State, held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Amongst several important priorities and outcomes, Council Conclusions were adopted on the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy. These Council Conclusions not only signal the EU’s strong commitment to protect species and natural habitats, but also makes progress towards the EU 2020 goal of halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

IUCN and Environment & Resources Authority - on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU - organised the event: "Marine Protected Areas: Initiatives & Opportunities" in Malta, to discuss the protection of European seas and oceans and to share first hand experiences of the opportunities and challenges of protecting Europe’s marine environment. Read the full story here.

Environment & Resources Authority is a Member of IUCN.

Read more about Malta's biodiversity and the initiatives and projects they are undertaking to conserve their natural environment:

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