ERA held the second edition of the Buonamico Award on Friday 20th April. This Award recognizes significant contribution by individuals to our knowledge on the environment.

This year, the ERA Board recognised the contribution and knowledge provided by three individuals. HE Marie Louise Coleiro Preca awarded the 2018 award, at the President’s Palace in Attard, to Mr. David Dandria for his contribution of our knowledge on entomology, Mr. Edwin Lanfranco for his contribution to our knowledge on local botany and ecology and Mr. Joe Sultana for his contribution to our knowledge on ornithology.

This National Award has been named after Giovanni Francesco Buonamico, who was possibly one of the first Maltese botanists, writing the first unplublished Maltese Flora in 1670.

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) requires and relies on data of the local environmental resources, such as biodiversity, but which data may not be readily available. ERA is aware that a considerable amount of useful information and data has been, and is still being produced by persons who though not necessarily having received any formal scientific training, often dedicate much of their time to study one or more aspects of our environmental resources.

Bionotes of the honourees for 2018 are being included.

For further information, you may wish to contact national.affairs.era@era.org.mt

DAVID DANDRIA

ENTOMOLOGIST

Born on 22nd December 1944 and married to Michèle (nee Conti), Dandria was from an early age interested in natural history, following in the footsteps of his brother Tony, who was one of the founders of the Malta Ornithological Society (now Birdlife Malta). In 1968 he was awarded a Government scholarship at the Imperial College of Science and Technology of London University where he graduated B. Sc. (Hons) in Zoology in 1971.

Dandria took up the post of Entomologist responsible for plant health in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, through which he acquired a deep knowledge of Malta’s insect fauna and also studied other crop pests. He worked with several foreign experts and co-authored a number of papers on the plant parasitic nematodes of Malta. In 1984, together with the late Prof. Franco Lamberti and Dr Angela Capussi he published an Atlas of Plant Parasitic Nematodes of the Maltese Islands which included 17 species, most of them new records for Malta.

In the 1990’s Dandria developed an interest in Malta’s spider fauna, a field of study which had previously been given scant attention. In 1993 he co-authored a paper on the spiders of the Maltese Islands, later updated in a publication he made in 2005 with a checklist of the spider species then known from Malta, up to a total of 137 species. In between these two works, his studies on Maltese spiders included the discovery of a species new to science, including the Maltese linyphiid spider, Palliduphanthes melitensis (= Lepthyphantes melitensis); and the rediscovery of the arboreal habitat of the endemic and protected Maltese trapdoor spider, Nemesia arboricola, which had for a long time been thought to be possibly extinct.

Dandria was also a part-time lecturer in the Department of Biology at the University of Malta and an Agricultural Adviser within the Ministry responsible for agriculture in the years leading to, and immediately after, Malta’s accession to the European Union. He edited the scientific peer-reviewed journal The Central Mediterranean Naturalist, from 1993 to 2012, and contributed the Chapter on Arachnida (spiders, scorpions and related animals) in the publication Flora u Fawna ta’ Malta. He later translated this popular work into English, Wildlife of the Maltese Islands. A devoted environmentalist, he was Chairman of the Natural Heritage Panel of the former Malta Environment and Planning Authority (2006-2013) and  member of the Panel up to 2016. Dandria was also engaged as a Project Coordinator with EcoGozo (2011-2013), leading two EU projects AGRISLES and SIMBIOTIC.

Dandria is currently Museum Curator at the Department of Biology, University of Malta, and together with Prof. David Mifsud of the Institute of Earth Systems is working on the compilation of a complete checklist of Maltese arthropods comprising over 4,000 species.

EDWIN LANFRANCO

BOTANIST AND ECOLOGIST

Born on 21st September 1946 in Sliema, Lanfranco was educated at St. Elizabeth School, Stella Maris College, and St Michael’s College of Education. He furthered his studies at London University and graduated B.Sc. Special in botany (1973).

Lanfranco taught in primary (1968) and secondary schools (1968-1975), and at postsecondary institutions, including government sixth forms (1975-1987) and the University of Malta. He was a visiting lecturer in systematics and botany at the University of Malta since 1978, and full-time, mainly in botany and evolutionary biology, since 1988. Following retirement (2011), he continued lecturing on a part-time basis, mainly at the Institute of Earth Systems.

He is an author of many scientific reports, articles and papers in local and foreign journals; focusing most research on Maltese and Mediterranean floristics (including endemic, native and alien species, vascular plants, marine algae and fungi) and vegetational investigations of habitats, and has reported, discovered or rediscovered many species of plants for the first time in the Maltese Islands, including the first reference to the Maltese spider orchid as an endemic, later formally named Ophrys melitensis. He is the co-author of some endemic species, like the Maltese horned pondweed, Zannichellia melitensis; and was also globally recognised with the naming of the endemic Maltese Cliff Orache, Cremnophyton lanfrancoi (= Atriplex lanfrancoi), named in his honour, having been involved in its discovery and for his contribution to Maltese and Mediterranean botany.

He has also been instrumental in providing scientific information for the designation of protected flora and protected areas, through his contribution to the first lists of sites of conservation value in the Maltese Islands and rare and threatened species included in the Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands, which were both published by the precursors of ERA in the 1980s.

Edwin Lanfranco also served on the committees of several environmental NGOs dedicated to nature conservation and was president of the Natural History Society of Malta (currently, Nature Trust Malta) and is also an advisory and academic member of several local and foreign boards and committees on botanical and environmental matters and attended international conventions and conferences in several countries. He has and is assisting ERA in various work voluntarily and has also carried out and participated in various consultancies, particularly for ecological reports and monitoring exercises. Apart from Malta, he also carried out fieldwork and lectured in other countries, mainly in the Mediterranean area.

Lanfranco is currently working on a new complete flora of Malta and continues casual lecturing and supervisions of dissertations and fieldwork projects with the Institute of Earth Systems, University of Malta.

JOE SULTANA

ORNITHOLOGIST

Born in Xagħra (Gozo) in 1939, he is married to Lucy (nee Sammut), and is father to Ruth and Mark. He started as a teacher with the Education Department in 1957 and retired as Principal Environment Officer with the Environment Protection Department in 2000. He served on the Board of Directors of the Planning Authority (1992–1997), as consultant at the Ministry of Environment (2001–2002) and Technical Advisor & Chairman of the Ornis Committee (2003–2006). Mr Sultana also participated in the formulation of legislation for the protection of sites and birds and was instrumental in setting up the Għadira and Is-Simar protected areas.

Sultana has volunteered for the Malta Ornithological Society (MOS), later BirdLife Malta, since its foundation in 1962, serving as Secretary (1967–1975), President (1976–1987) and Head of Ringing Scheme (1971–2002). He was also editor of Bird’s Eye View and IlMerill and authored or co-authored several landmark books about birds in Malta including A Guide to the Birds of Malta (1975), the Birds Chapter in the Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands (1999) and The Breeding Birds of Malta (2011), amongst many others.

Sultana’s studies and research ranged over a number of bird species especially the local breeding birds. He found seabirds of great interest and conducted research and data collection on the breeding colonies of seabirds.

On the international scene, Sultana served as Chairman of the ICPB’s (International Council for Bird Preservation) European Section (1985–1992), as World Council Member of BirdLife International (1994–1999) and Chairman of the Medmaravis Council (1995– 2011). Furthermore, during his Council of Europe appointments, he was a member of the Steering Committee on Conservation and Management of the Environment and Natural Habitats (1982–1994), Chairman of Naturopa Centre (1987–1998), member of the Organising Committee for European Conservation Year 1995 (1993–1995), and a European Diploma sites appraisal reporter since 2000. Additionally, he was also consultant to the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas for the Strategic Action Programme for the conservation of Biological Diversity (SAP BIO) project and the Action Plan for the Conservation of Annex II Birds (2001–2003).

Throughout the years, Sultana has been awarded with the Gouden Lepelaar (Golden Spoonbill) award by Vogelbescherming Nederland (Birdlife, Netherlands) (1993); the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Medal (1996); an Honorary Life Membership by the British Ornithologists’ Union (1999) and made a Member of Honour by BirdLife International (1999) for his significant contribution to bird and nature conservation.​

30 April 2018