Across the European Union (EU), Member States select and designate sites to form part of the protected area network referred to as Natura 2000, to safeguard selected habitats and habitats of particular species. In this regard, 21 May has been declared as the European Natura 2000 Day. The aim is for citizens to be aware and appreciate such natural areas, and how they can contribute towards them.

On Sunday 21st May 2017, Malta will join the rest of the EU in celebrating this special day. Celebrations will be held at the Għadira and Simar Nature Reserves and il-Majjistral Nature & History Park and the public is invited to join. The events are free of charge.

ERA, in collaboration with BirdLife Malta and Il-Majjistral Park, will be having an information stand at:

– the Għadira Nature Reserve which will be open to the public between 10.00 and 16.00
– Il-Majjistral Park’s Visitor Centre between 10.00 and 12.30, at which a seminar titled ‘Discover Natura 2000’ will also be held. Booking for this free seminar is required by sending an email to: events@birdlifemalta.org

More information on these events is available here.

In celebration of Natura 2000 day, an EU-wide initiative is currently ongoing to upload your picture and make a gesture for our protected areas and take it back to nature! Visit http://www.natura2000day.eu/en/ to learn more about this initiative.

Like other Member States, Malta, throughout the years, has proposed various sites to form part of the protected area network. The latest additions were made in April 2016. This saw the creation of 8 new marine protected areas, adding a further 3,450 square kilometres to the existing 191 square kilometres covered by the 5 previous marine protected areas. These new marine sites afford for the further protection of dolphins, turtles and seabirds. These were the result of two projects co-financed under the EU LIFE funding programme.

More information available at:
http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160429/local/dolphins-seabirds-and-turtles-get-eight-new-protected-sites.610443

https://era.org.mt/en/Pages/Natura-2000-Datasheets-Maps.aspx

Meanwhile, an ongoing project, LIFE BaĦAR for N2K, is focusing on three ecologically important marine habitats: reefs, sea caves, and sandbanks, which are some of the habitats providing shelter and feeding grounds for a variety of marine species. The project’s aim is to extend the existent marine protected areas and designate new ones based on the data gathered.

This EU LIFE co-financed project is being carried out by ERA, together with the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change; the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture; the Department of Biology of the University of Malta; and Fundación Oceana.

More information available at:
http://www.lifebahar.org.mt