Managing Natura 2000 network


Long-term survival of the most valuable species in Europe rests on a network of existing nature reserves and open land which is often privately owned, where threatened flora and fauna happen to have their habitats.

In Malta, a number of different habitats have been identified as Natura 2000 (N2K) areas in need of management. Public consultation is currently under way for 22 of these sites at the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. Another eight sites are covered by conservation order.

In some cases these specialised habitatssalina bay, home to rare plants and animals, are restricted to small pockets of land. They may be the only place in the entire world where a unique species is be found. The aim of the Natura 2000 network is to reverse the decline of these threatened species.

Our shrinking treasure, the biodiversity of the Maltese islands, clings for the most part to the coastline, with much of the designated area along barely accessible stretches of the western cliffs.

The largest chunk of our N2K network spans from the northwest tip of Gozo to Xlendi and continues from Ċirkewwa to Bengħisa in Malta.

Another wide band on the east coast runs from Mistra Bay through Selmun Bay and Imġiebaħ to the southern point of Mellieħa Bay.

This special area of conservation (SAC) contains boulder and clay slopes, forest remnants, and permanent springs. It makes an attractive habitat for the Mediterranean frog, Malta’s only amphibian.

Off-roading has been identified as a problematic issue in this area. The environment authority’s Natural Heritage Advisory Committee (now set to be abolished under a new law) observed that a council proposal to plant native oak trees to reduce erosion of the clay slopes could be improved upon by planting tamarisk, a more suitable species for the purpose.

The advisory committee of the time pointed out that the parking of cars on the clay surface is contributing to erosion and should be discontinued.

Managing the site could mean restricting car access to the beach and preventing the clay slope from becoming a mess of tyre tracks. A 1.5-metre-wide trekking path would replace the road with degraded verges restored back to the habitat type.

Installing a wattle fence of sticks to stabilise the clay slope for planting of naturally occuring Esparto grass was also recommended.

Another coastal strip for which there is a proposed management plan runs from White Tower Bay and Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, toward Mellieħa Bay Hotel. Contained in it are three unique sand dune habitats in urgent need of better protection through site management.

A 2009 by-law, issued by the Mellieħa local council, permits and regulates camping. However, litter left by campers may be attracting rats which pose a threat to the shearwater population which rears its young on the nearby sea cliffs.

Nature Trust has recently spoken out on the problem of dumping in vulnerable Natura 2000 sites such as at Pembroke garrigue and saline marshes in the south, calling for frequent patrols and steeper fines to counter the problem.
The management plans rest strongly on long-held environmental policies put together by Mepa, which is now passing through a political meltdown

Isolated pockets of habitat containing species in special need of protection are also found inland. A cave, saline marsh, woodland, ancient grove and valley provide us with diverse habitats in need of special attention at Għar tal-Burdan, Salini, Buskett, Wardija and Wied il-Miżieb respectively.

The latter valley represents typical Maltese habitats – garrigue, maquis, valley sides and watercourses – all co-habiting with agricultural land. The valley was given protected status in 2010 and is home to the Sandarac gum tree, which has already benefitted from an EU-funded project.

Away from the coast we find the holm oak forest remnant at Wardija on private land. Efforts have been made to reach consensus among stakeholders on achieving the right balance between the owners’ requirements and opening up the site for educational purposes. It was suggested that small educational groups could visit the site with the landowners’ consent.

Other sites already under some form of management (at times patchy) are, Simar wetland, White Tower Bay dunes, Għar Dalam cave, Għadira wetland plain and the coastal habitat at Għajn Tuffieħa. These are currently in the hands of either the Parks Department, NGOs, local councils, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority or a local committee. The management plans look at how to improve on what is already there in terms of managing each site.

In Gozo, a Natura 2000 site at the citadel, which is home to two species of bat and the very rare Maltese toadflax, is under ministerial management.

Ramla Bay, which is known for its dune system and associated plants, is presently under care of the Gaia Foundation. Parts of the site are threatened by fires from illegal barbecues. This has led to the loss of wild populations of another the rare Bushy Restharrow, a delicate yellow flowering plant, revered in the time of the Knights of St John.

Abandonment of former agricultural land backing the dunes has led to the spreading of grapevines and other invasive alien species, posing a challenge to the Ramla Bay ecosystem.

Rich in endemic and threatened species, Dwejra falls under a volatile management committee.

At the naturally beautiful site of Ta’ Ċenċ activities include tourism, diving, rambling, bird-watching and hunting. Yet the area is so far managed solely by a hotel owner, with the various users of the site insisting that the management plan should not compromise their access and use of the area.

The plans also cover Comino and the Xlendi area, plus a pebble beach at Daħlet Qorrot with significant garrigue habitat and species on the overlying ridge at Il-Qortin.

The management plans rest strongly on long-held environmental policies put together by Mepa, which is now passing through a political meltdown. The crucial issue of funding is also addressed by the plans. The plans can be viewed online and comments from the public are to be sent in by the end of the month.

http://natura2000malta.org.mt

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[Noticia 05/03/2014] Medio Ambiente saca a información pública cinco lugares de importancia comunitaria (LIC) marina de la Red Natura 2000

fondo marinoSe trata del Sistema de cañones submarinos de Avilés, del Espacio marino de Illes Columbretes, del Banco de la Concepción, del Sur de Almería-Seco de los Olivos y del Espacio marino de Alborán

El Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente (MAGRAMA) ha abierto hoy el proceso de información pública sobre la propuesta de orden ministerial para la inclusión de cinco espacios marinos como nuevos Lugares de Importancia Comunitaria (LIC) de la Red Natura 2000 de ámbito marino.

Se trata del Sistema de cañones submarinos de Avilés en la demarcación marina noratlántica, del Espacio marino de Illes Columbretes en la demarcación levantino-balear, del Banco de la Concepción en la demarcación canaria, y del Sur de Almería-Seco de los Olivos y del Espacio marino de Alborán en la demarcación Estrecho y Alborán.

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Almendralejo: "Cradle" of the lesser kestrels and ZEPA first urban in Europe

Almendralejo: "Cradle" of the lesser kestrels and ZEPA first urban in Europe

Almendralejo (Badajoz),  Apr 29 (EFEverde) -. The town of Almendralejo in Badajoz, and especially its popular church, has become one of the best "cradles" the lesser kestrel, a small falcon listed as "vulnerable" and has become the first ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) urban Europe.

"Church of the Purification of Almendralejo": this is the "official" name of this ZEPA, included in the Natura 2000 Network, a historic and artistic housing, between the months of February and July, about a hundred breeding pairs this hawk.

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El Grupo de Desarrollo Rural de la Subbética oferta diferentes acciones formativas para la creación de empleo

HuertaEl Grupo de Desarrollo Rural de la Subbética ha convocado varias acciones formativas en colaboración con el proyecto “Naturaleza y Empleo”  cuyo objetivo es la formación para la creación de empleo verde.

En el marco de dicho proyecto, se van a realizar una serie de acciones formativas cuyo objetivo principal es la promoción y creación de empleo en las zonas de la Red Natura 2000 y Reservas de la Biosfera de Andalucía, así como el aumento de la cualificación de los trabajadores en temas ambientales y de sostenibilidad.

Dichas acciones comprenderán tres cursos; el primero que comenzará el próximo mes de Marzo será  de agricultura ecológica que tendrá una duración de 180 horas y los alumnos obtendrán el certificado de profesionalidad.

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España dispone ya de la primera “foto fija” de la Red Natura 2000, un documento que se va a entregar a la Comisión Europea en el que se identifican las prioridades de estos espacios y las diferentes posibilidades de financiación.

El “Marco de Acción Prioritaria en Red Natura 2000″ identifica las prioridades estratégicas de conservación de la Red, plantea hasta 850 medidas específicas que sería necesario adoptar para alcanzarlas en el sexenio 2014-2020 y descubre las fuentes potenciales de financiación con cargo a los distintos fondos comunitarios.

El documento ha sido elaborado por la Fundación Biodiversidad y el Ministerio de Agricultura y Medio Ambiente gracias a un proyecto Life+ cofinanciado por la UE, y en él se ha recopilado toda la información técnica facilitada por las comunidades autónomas.

RN2000 PN Caldera de Taburiente
RN2000 PN Caldera de Taburiente RN2000 PN Caldera de Taburiente

El “Marco de Acción Prioritaria en Red Natura” lo han presentado hoy la directora general de Calidad y Evaluación Ambiental del Ministerio de Agricultura y Medio Ambiente, Guillermina Yanguas; la directora de la Fundación Biodiversidad, Sonia Castañeda, y el subdirector de Medio Natural del Ministerio, Miguel Aymerich.

Entre las posibilidades futuras de financiación de la Red Natura, han coincidido al apuntar la importancia de que todos los fondos europeos, como el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (Feder) o el Fondo Europeo Agrícola para el Desarrollo Rural (Feader) incluyan partidas específicas que beneficien a los espacios de la Red.

Noelia Vallejo, presente en el acto en representación de la Dirección General Logotipo oficial de la Red Natura 2000 de Medio Ambiente de la Comisión Europea, ha cifrado en unos 5.000 millones de euros el coste anual que supone el mantenimiento de la Red Natura 2000, pero ha observado que sus beneficios rondan los 300.000 millones de euros.

Según ha explicado Miguel Aymerich, las estimaciones que se han realizado en España apuntan que son necesarios unos 1.000 millones de euros al año para garantizar una adecuada de los espacios incluidos en la Red Natura 2000, lo que supone -ha precisado- 80 euros por hectárea, una cantidad a su juicio “razonable”.

Aymerich ha coincidido en que los beneficios que genera la Red son “muy superiores” a su coste, y ha subrayado la necesidad de que muchas de las partidas económicas previstas en los fondos europeos (para agricultura, para desarrollo rural o para pesca) lleguen y beneficien a los habitantes de estos espacios.

La directora general de Calidad y Evaluación Ambiental, Guillermina Yanguas, se ha referido al “Marco de Acción Prioritaria en Red Natura 2000″ como la “herramienta” necesaria para desarrollar este conjunto de espacios, y ha subrayado que será “esencial” captar distintos fondos europeos para favorecer la conservación de la biodiversidad.

La directora de la Fundación Biodiversidad, Sonia Castañeda, ha citado dos retos de la Red: que la sociedad sepa lo que es y lo que significa, y mejorar la gestión y la financiación de esos espacios.

En ese sentido, ha destacado que el documento presentado hoy supone una “foto fija” de la Red Natura 2000 en España y una propuesta de lo que se debe hacer y cómo se debe financiar durante el periodo comprendido entre 2014 y 2020