What is being done?
In order to safeguard Malta’s rich biodiversity, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) was launched for adoption on 12th December 2012. The national strategy defines a comprehensive framework to safeguard Malta’s biodiversity over the period 2012-2020. It includes measures to address the issue of invasive alien species (IAS), and to maintain or improve the conservation status of threatened and/or protected native species.
Indeed, Target 9 of Malta’s NBSAP aims to prevent, as far as practical, the introduction and establishment of new IAS and identifies and priorities those invasive species which are established. Instead, measures BI2 and BI4 of the NBSAP identify the need to set up a systematic and coherent National Strategy on Invasive Alien Species and the publication of National Codes of Good Practice on Invasive Alien Species, respectively; these have been issued for public consultation in 2018.
In addition to such policies, other guidance documents have also been published, such as the “Guidelines on managing non-native plant invaders and restoring native plant communities in terrestrial settings in the Maltese Islands“, which provides guidance, both on the removal of invasive plants, and on efforts for reinstating or restoring native plant communities.
In 2015, Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 on the Prevention and Management of the Introduction and Spread of Invasive Alien Species came into force with the aim to control various IAS. In this regard, it established a list of Union concern. This regulation has been transposed into national legislation through the Control of Invasive Alien Species of European Union Concern Regulations (S.L. 549.119).
- containment, or;
Eradication is the favoured approach; however, it is only practical when the invasion is at its early stages, that is, when the populations are small and isolated. On the other hand, both control (which reduces the presence of the invader) and containment (which limits its further spread) aid in addressing larger invasions. Nonetheless, the latter two approaches require indefinite investments of time, effort and money to keep the invader at bay.
A well-planned eradication programme is arduous and lengthy. It should consider various aspects, amongst which:
- habitat conditions and requirements;
- repeated interventions;
- resource availability;
- regular monitoring, as well as;
- the possibility of future invasions.
In collaboration with Ambjent Malta, ERA is implementing the management plans for Natura 2000 protected areas (Għadira s-Safra, Comino, Majjistral Park, etc.), and therefore addressing various actions aimed to remove IAS, such as century plant (MT: l-agave; SN: Agave spp.), devil’s backbone (MT: N/A; SN: Kalanchoe daigremontiana), kaffir fig (MT: xuxett San Ġwann; SN: Carpobrotus spp.), acacias (MT: l-akaċja; SN: Acacia spp.), giant reed (MT: il-qasba kbira; SN: Arundo donax), water hyacinth (MT: N/A; SN: Eichhornia crassipes), rats (MT: il-firien; SN: Rattus spp.), etc.
For implementation and research to be effective in both policy making and control of alien species, it is important to raise awareness and understand the distribution of alien species, their invasive potential and prioritise accordingly. The ‘IAS in Europe’ app facilitates the dissemination of information, surveillance, which enables the adoption of efficient measures for prevention as well as early detection and control, leading to reduction of ecological and economical damages that IAS may cause. ERA urges the public to start using this app which will help win the battle against invasive alien species not only in Malta, but also in Europe in general.
- European Commission brochure (2020) – Invasive alien species of Union Concern
- European Commission brochure (2016/2017) – Invasive alien species of Union concern
- ERA automatic update form – Restriction of prohibited species
- ERA IAS leaflet – Stop the spread (2020)
- ERA IAS letter – New restrictions on a number of animals & plants (2020)
- Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 – Prevention & Management of the Introduction & Spread of Invasive Alien Species
- S.L. 549.119 – Control of Invasive Alien Species of European Union Concern Regulations
- S.L. 549.44 – Flora, Fauna & Natural Habitats Protection Regulations