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MEPA SECURES EU FUNDS FOR PROTECTING HABITATS AND SPECIES

Posted on: 25/01/2006

EUA total of €400,000 were allocated by the EU Transitional Facility Programme for 2004 for an ambitious 18 months project aiming to improve Malta's capacity to achieve the goals set in both national and international legislation in the area of nature protection, particularly the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. Launched in October 2005, the project is being implemented jointly between the Austrian Federal Environment Agency and the Malta Environment & Planning Authority.

To achieve the goals established by the nature protection legislation, Malta has already designated 1 marine and 31 terrestrial Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) with the aim of establishing a coherent ecological network of conservation areas, called Natura 2000. However, given that the management, monitoring and enforcement of such protected areas is an ongoing process, the project will provide further training and experience-sharing, particularly in the areas of management plan preparation and implementation, environmental monitoring and assessment of projects or activities that are likely to have significant impacts.

It is generally recognized that the upkeep of the natural environment is dependent on the participation of all stakeholders, including land-users and regulatory bodies alike. To this end, this project aims to provide sector-wide training by promoting a network of skilled, professionally trained people as well as participation and training of all interested stakeholders.

Five seminars will be organised to train officers from regulatory bodies (mostly from MEPA, although other institutions will be involved) in skills and techniques in the implementation of management plans for SACs. These seminars will be supplemented by a series of practical training sessions that will take place on site within selected protected areas.

A team of highly experienced Austrian experts will provide consultancy and expert advice to assist with the actual development of management plans, while a series of traineeships will also be organised for the officers, in order to visualise, learn and share experiences on some of the best EU practices in the field.

Finally, a series of four half-day workshops will also be organised for special target audiences and a national information seminar will be held towards the end of the project.

For further information, you may wish to contact the Nature Protection Unit of MEPA at 2290 6003 or via e-mail at nature.protection@mepa.org.mt.