The Maltese Islands harbour a diverse array of native species, a number of which are found nowhere else in the world. Such species are termed as ‘endemic’. They contribute significantly to Malta’s natural heritage. Some endemic species are also critically endangered since they require specific conditions and habitats that result from geographical isolation and long-term evolution.
Due to their insular nature, the Maltese Islands are particularly vulnerable to bio-invasions. Over the years, several alien species have been introduced in Malta; some accidentally but others intentionally, even with the misconception that these would improve local biodiversity. While only a few of the introduced alien species reach an invasive status, the latter can have considerable environmental and socio-economic impacts.
For instance, the kaffir fig (MT: xuxett San Ġwann; SN: Carpobrotus spp.) and the very common Cape sorrel (MT: il-ħaxixa Ingliża; SN: Oxalis pes-caprae) are very prolific species that literally carpet whole areas, smothering local species in the process. Perhaps a more tangible example is that of the red palm weevil (MT: il-bumunqar aħmar; SN: Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), which decimated thousands of palm trees across the Maltese Islands; the nuisance and health issues associated with the introduction of the Asian tiger mosquito (MT: in-nemusa tigra; SN: Aedes albopictus), or the introduced species of Levantine frog (MT: il-qorru; SN: Pelophylax bedriagae), which directly competes with the local painted frog (MT: iż-żrinġ; SN: Discoglossus pictus pictus).
- 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