Continued access to the established climbing areas in Malta and Gozo, as well as to areas that have not yet been developed, is fundamental to the future of our sport. Many of these areas fall within the 34 sites which have been identified as Natura 2000 “Special Areas of Conservation” or “Special Protection Areas”. To give an example, the seacliffs along the northern and north-westerly coast of Malta from Paradise Bay all the way south to Benghisa are within Natura 2000 sites! In fact, virtually every climbing area in the Maltese Islands is in a Natura 2000 site so it is vital that the climbing community is involved in the formulation of the site management plans to enable us to continue practising our sport in a sustainable manner.
I would like to underline the fact that the stated aim of Natura 2000 is NOT to stop access to these areas, but rather to ensure that the sites are managed in a sustainable way, both ecologically and economically.
As part of the overall process of formulating the Management plans, the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) together with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) this week organised four information meetings to first of all create awareness about Natura 2000 amongst the identified stakeholders, but also to provide information to those present on how they can actively participate in the preparation of the Management Plans for all 34 terrestrial Natura 2000 sites across the Maltese Islands.
This project will help Malta fulfil its EU obligations, namely those emanating from Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, transposed into Maltese Legislation by Legal Notice 311 of 2006: Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006.
These meetings, which were organised at the MEUSAC offices in Valletta, were held as follows:
– February 4, meeting for Governmental Entities;
– February 5, meeting for Local Councils;
– February 6, meeting for Non Governmental Organisations;
– February 7, meeting for Stakeholders (National/residents’ associations, cooperatives and Operations established near Natura 2000 sites).
The climbing community was well represented at the meeting yesterday, with Andrew Warrington (MC Adventure/ MRCC), Mike Caffrey and myself attending.
The next step is for consultations to take place with regard to each site with a view to prepare a management plan for each by November 2013.
You can access more information and yesterday’s presentation, here.
On the MCC side both myself and Stephen Farrugia have registered as contact persons with MEUSAC and MEPA.
Climbers will be kept informed of developments!