Each Member State of the European Union has the obligation under the EC Habitats Directive of contributing to the creation of the Natura 2000 network in proportion to the representation within its territory of the natural habitat types and the habitats of species specified in the Annexes of this Directive. In addition to this, the Wild Birds Directive requires Member States to protect naturally occurring wild birds and their habitats. The measures indicated in order to affect this include among others the designation of Special Protection Areas.
Consequent to such obligations, Malta has submitted to the EC a number of sites to form part of this important network. The first submission was made back in 2004, following an extensive data collation and evaluation exercise by MEPA, with the assistance of national experts, commissioned through a grant of the Council of Europe as part of the Emerald Network project. Further submissions, together with updates, were made following the collation and review of further scientific data, as well as discussions with DG Environment.
To date, Malta has 28 Sites of Community Importance (eventually Special Areas of Conservation) declared under the EC Habitats Directive and 13 Special Protection Areas declared under the EC Birds Directive.
The submission of sites to the EC entails the preparation of a datasheet related to each site, in a format established by the Commission as presented in Commission Decision 97/266/EC. This is accompanied by a map indicating the boundary of each site, as well as the EU habitats present in the case of sites proposed under the EC Habitats Directive. Datasheets and maps for Malta are available here.
Malta has reached a high degree of sufficiency!
Malta is very advanced in its progress to designate terrestrial sites under the EC Habitats Directive. Its preparations, carried out by MEPA, has reached a high percentage under the sufficiency index - 92.64% as at June 2008. This is the highest percentage among the States that acceded the EU in 2004 (see graph below: light green - acceded in 2004; blue - acceded before 2004; dark green - acceded after 2004). The evaluation of sufficiency is based on the range of each habitat and species in the full territory of each Member State and within the sites proposed by each. To reach 100% sufficiency, proposed sites must be enlarged or new sites proposed; work has already been considered to achieve such objective. Such data is published through the Natura 2000 barometer.