Client: FEE-Nature Trust (Malta)
Start / Finish Dates: January 2018
The Mediterranean Island Wetlands network project funded by MAVA is coordinated by WWF Greece and is made up of 13 partners. The project was developed in response to Ramsar resolution XII.14 that specifically targets the conservation of Mediterranean Basin island wetlands. The Maltese project partner, FEE-Nature Trust (Malta), contracted Adi Associates to implement its role within the MedIsWet project and represent this NGO at all meetings.
The project aims to gather data on wetlands in the Maltese Islands, mapping water bodies over 1,000 m2 in size and collect all information into one database. The strategic aim across all project partners behind the creation of this tool is to also use the information gathered to help raise awareness, lobby and promote for better protection of wetlands found in Mediterranean islands.
WWF Greece visited all project partner sites, including Malta, to assist in field work and ensure uniformity in approach. Adi mapped and visited over 90 sites in the Maltese Islands under MedIsWet. Whilst on site a rapid assessment was carried out using a checklist developed for and used by all partners. The information gathered on site included a description of the wetland, consideration of the condition of the wetland, activities on and within the catchment of the site, and impacts. Habitat types, flora and fauna noted during the site visit were also recorded. Where possible and relevant, Adi engaged with stakeholders using the site to gain additional local knowledge of the area. Finally, ecosystem services provided by the wetland were considered and included in a separate checklist. Information gathered during field work was further substantiated through a desk top study.
The types of water bodies that have been included in the database vary. Of most importance in terms of their ecological value are the wetlands that support habitats and species of conservation interest. However, other sites have been included that also provide suitable environments that do or could support habitats and species of interest, particularly through restoration interventions. These include ponds often located in the countryside and dammed sections along watercourses that retain water, for instance, Chadwick Lakes. Some salt pans also fell within the MedIsWet criteria. Although not of particular ecological value, salt pans provide their own ecosystems services including cultural services. Reservoirs that fit within the criteria were also included in the inventory. Reservoirs could provide a wildlife trap, particularly membrane-lined reservoirs that make it difficult for fauna that may fall in to escape. Reservoirs area also known to sometimes include alien invasive species that would have been left in the reservoir and could potentially end up in a watercourse where its introduction could have devastating effects on the local flora and fauna. For instance, it is thought that Procambarus clarkii (crayfish, imported by the aquarium industry), an invasive alien that has been recorded in Chadwick Lakes, was potentially introduced to the area when specimens were dumped into a reservoir further upstream.
The project is entering its 3rd year. The database is almost concluded and will be launched soon after. Additional work beyond the database will include the development of a restoration programme, development of educational material, and preparation of Phase 2 which could see implementation of restoration activities at identified suitable wetland/s. Watch this space!