World Environment Day and World Ocean Day
This week marks the commemoration of two important aspects of our natural heritage, World Environment Day which was on the 5th June and World Ocean Day which is on the 8th June. Nature Trust (Malta) feels that both local terrestrial and marine environments can benefit from greater planning and attention by the authorities.
Over the past years, NTM was responsible for numerous clean-up campaigns in areas that are protected and of enormous scientific or ecological interest due to the unique habitats and biodiversity present in the area. Litter of all shapes and sizes and from a variety of waste streams have constantly been found raising the point that public awareness about the harmful effects of irresponsibly discarded litter is poor.
Unfortunately, NTM has had to repeat clean-ups in the same locations more than once since, despite removing litter from an area, it quickly becomes a dumping ground again. For this reason, NTM is urging the government to deploy Green Wardens in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that make up the Natura 2000 network around the Maltese Islands.
From a management perspective, MEPA is also encouraged to develop a strategy in order to control alien species that are taking over the local countryside. Such alien species, such as the Castor Oil (Ricinus communis) compete with local biodiversity and become invasive.
With regards to seas, NTM is also urging the government to pay more attention to Maltese waters, promote awareness of the Marine Protected Areas that exist, encourage citizens to take ownership of these areas and increase MPAs to include areas rich in reefs and sea caves. However, declarations are not enough; action is necessary so that MPAs are controlled and managed in a sustainable way that meets the aims of such conservation areas.