Environmental trends indicate improvements in many areas
A number of areas in the Maltese environment are witnessing optimistic improvements as the country continues to strive to make the environment a major priority. These timely indications are reported in the latest booklet of environmental indicators that the Malta Environment & Planning Authority (MEPA) is publishing for the third consecutive year.
Figures published in the 2007 State of the Environment Indicators booklet show a significant reduction in sulphur dioxide found in the air that has continued to fall from pervious years, while nitrogen oxides and benzene levels have remained well within EU standards. The consumption of water has continued to dip while 95% of Malta's bathing waters complied with EU standards. The indicators illustrate a 25% increase in the material collected for recycling while in 2007, 4 more Special Areas of Conservation, including 1 marine area, were designated for nature protection. By 2007, 27 SACs had been proposed to be included in the EU Natura 2000 network.
There has also been a considerable rise in public environmental expenditure, together with an increase in afforestation projects and schools covered by EkoSkola.
Some environmental issues that need attention concern the nitrate levels found in groundwater, low levels of organic farming, the levels of particulate matter and ozone concentrations found in the air, increasing rates of vehicles per capita and the increase in municipal waste generation. With a registered economic growth over the past year and the parallel increase in our GDP and fuel imports, Malta needs to keep exploring viable ways to decouple energy production from economic activity.
The 2007 State of the Environment Indicators booklet was compiled by the Authority in partnership with the National Statistics Office (NSO) as well as other government and non-governmental organisations. This publication places annual environmental reporting on a firm basis while it honours its commitment and obligation, according to the Aarhus Convention, to provide timely information to policymakers and the public. This booklet is entirely accessible on the Authority's website www.mepa.org.mt or on CD. Hard copies are also for sale at the Authority's office at Floriana.
The Authority will be next year publishing a State of the Environment Report, which is a comprehensive assessment that provides a robust information basis for the country to be able to develop in an environmentally sustainable manner. The report is a legal obligation of the Authority, designed to inform policymakers and the public about key environmental trends.