The Malta Independent 11 December 2019, Wednesday

ERA ‘in a better position’ to safeguard new species of flora and fauna

Monday, 12 August 2019, 11:37 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) said it is in a better position to safeguard new species of flora and fauna and to protect specific areas of the Maltese environment. This is a result of newly amended Regulations on the Protection of Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats. The Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change has developed these new regulations alongside ERA.

Through this change, species of orchid, butterflies, coral, sharks and other species are being added to the list of protected plants and animals. These plants and animals were protected and added due to scientific research, an increase in knowledge about them and their conservation status. Among these species there is a new endemic orchid - Gozo Spider Orchid which is only found in Gozo. This orchid was recently discovered along with and a number of endangered butterflies, corals of international importance found in Maltese waters.

By means of this new law, when ERA is of the opinion that a species has an unfavourable conservation status or a conservation status which is worsening, ERA may issue a protection notice on the species and take the necessary steps to protect the species.

Moreover, the new regulations give ERA further means with which to remove and control invasive alien species.

This law also gives more protection to specific sites and allows for more flexibility in the designation of protected areas. Under the new regulations a site may be proposed for protection on the basis of ecological, geological and natural features it offers. Additional penalties for crimes committed within protected sites have also been introduced.

It is important to also note that, under these regulations, the collection and care of protected species requires prior authorization from the Authority. This includes certain types of butterflies and orchids.

Architect Michelle Piccinino, Director of Environment and Resources remarked that through these regulations, the regulatory role of the Authority is being strengthened.

Architect Piccinino also highlighted how this law is based on scientific research, and how through more research we can continue learning about our unique biodiversity, and which biodiversity is part of the Maltese culture and identity.

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