Various multilateral environmental agreements exist, which call for the designation of protected areas. Some also aim at creating ecological networks across countries.
Sites of international importance include the following:
Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar sites, are designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (or UN Ramsar Convention). Malta has two such sites: L-Għadira and is-Simar.
Specially Protected Areas are designated through the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA & Biodiversity Protocol) under the United Nations Barcelona Convention (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean). Malta has four such sites: L-Għadira, il-Gżejjer ta’ San Pawl (St Paul’s Islands), Filfla & surrounding islets, and Ħaġret il-Ġeneral (Fungus Rock).
Special Areas of Conservation, designated under the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), and Special Protection Areas, designated under the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC). These form the Natura 2000 network, called for under the above-mentioned EC Nature Directives (EC Habitats Directive and EC Birds Directive). Various terrestrial and marine sites have been selected by Malta to form part of this network. Further details are available here .
Areas of Special Conservation Interest, forming the Emerald network of protected areas, are called for under the CoE Bern Convention. Such network is to be established in the territory of the Contracting Parties and observer States to the Bern Convention, including, amongst others, Central and Eastern European countries and the EU Member States. For Malta, being an EU Member State, the sites forming part of the Emerald network are the same as those that form part of the Natura 2000 Network.
Below is a selection of protected sites: