The Maltese Islands harbour a diverse array of flora and fauna, especially when considering the relatively small land area, the limited number of habitat types and the intense human pressure. Malta's biodiversity shares affinities with other areas of the Mediterranean, not only in view of its central position, but also in view of historical land bridges.
Malta's coastline spans about 270km. The coastline on the north-eastern part of Malta and Gozo is gently sloping, in contrast to the magnificent sheer cliffs that typify the western and southern parts of the islands. The ecological importance of the cliffs, and boulder screes, is immediately noticeable when one considers the unique biological communities that are found there, including endemic species that are restricted only to such habitats. Amongst the endemic species inhabiting such habitats, one can mention:
|Maltese Name||Scientific Name||Comments|
|Maltese Cliff-orache||Bjanka ta’ l-Irdum||Cremnophyton lanfrancoi||flowering plant, named after a local botanist|
|Maltese Rock-centaury||Widnet il-Baħar||Palaeocyanus crassifolius||flowering plant, Malta's national plant, see image below|
|Maltese Door Snail ||Dussies||Lampedusa melitensis||mollusc, one of the rarest animals in Malta|
Cliffs are also of value since they provide shelter and a breeding habitat for a variety of bird species, such as the following:
|Maltese Name||Scientific Name|
|Cory’s Shearwater||Ċiefa||Calonectris diomedea|
|Mediterranean Shearwater||Garnija||Puffinus yelkouan|
|Storm Petrel||Kanġu ta’ Filfla||Hydrobates pelagicus|
The coastline is also characterised by a series of bays, harbours and inlets, hence depicting the landscape diversity of the islands.
Semi-natural terrestrial habitats in the Maltese Islands appear in different stages of the same ecological succession, including steppic, garrigue, maquis and woodland communities. Considering the marine environment, seagrass meadows probably represent the most important natural marine habitat type in Maltese waters in terms of productivity, and also since they provide shelter, as well as a place for breeding and feeding, for a variety of marine organisms.
The state of knowledge of species occurring in the Maltese Islands has been overall stable over the years; nevertheless, a number of new records have been published while others await publication. Various species are protected on a national or international level, noting that several native species are threatened and/or endemic. Indeed, Malta progressed with protecting various habitats and species of importance, especially in later years, mostly through the enactment of legislation and establishment of an ecological network of protected areas.
Links for further informationContact us
State of the Environment Reports / Indicators
Country profile on the website of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity