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The Natura 2000 network of protected areas aims to ensure the long term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened habitats and species, on landand at sea, through sustainable ecological and economical management. This is in view that marine habitats are vulnerable to human influences, and require protection in order to safeguard the biodiversity they sustainand to increase their resilience to the various pressures and threats.

At the start of the project in 2013 there were five marine protected areas (MPAs) in Malta, covering ca. 190 km2. These MPAs, which are part of the Natura 2000 network, were mainly based on the presence of the sea grass Posidonia oceanica and the endemic Maltese top-shell, Gibbula nivosa. There are of course other marine habitats and species present in Maltese waters that merit protection. However, scientific information on which areas are important for these other species and habitats was very limited, and insufficient for identifying and designating appropriate Natura 2000 sites. The LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project was developed to address this knowledge gap for three important marine habitats: reefs, sea caves and sandbanks.

In parallel, two other projects - LIFE+ Migrate and LIFE+ Malta Seabirds - were carried out to identify areas for the protection of important marine species.

 

Aqra bil-Malti

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