Biodiversity is part of Maltese identity and culture, so much so that the Environment and Resources Authority has just included a number of new species, among which a special orchid known as Id-Dubbiena t’Għawdex (The Gozitan Fly) in the list of protected species.
ERA Chief Executive Dr Louise Spiteri stated that the Authority’s regulatory function has been strengthened through new regulations, and it now has more authority to identify an ecological or natural zone as a protected one.
Plants, biodiversity and the natural environment are living things. Likewise, laws which regulate them need to evolve for the safeguarding of new species of flora, fauna or protected animals found in specific zones of the Maltese environment.
In the past days the Environment and Resources Authority amended regulations about flora, fauna and the natural environment because of an increase in new species. This came in the wake of scientific research and information about the new species and their state of conservation.
Dr Spiteri explained that orchids are a family of plants considered to have evolved mainly in the plant kingdom, and the new species include an endemic one found in Gozo.
In fact we are calling it the Gozitan Spider Orchid or id-Dubbiena t’Għawdex, and we have also found a species of butterfly which we note are in need of protection, as their species could become extinct if not safeguarded.”
Through this change in regulations. the list of protected plants and animals now includes sea coral of international importance found recently in Maltese waters, as well as sharks.
Dr Spiteri explained that through this new legislation, as soon as the Authority has evidence some species is not in a state of conservation, it can issue a protection order and take the necessary measures.
“We are thus also providing protection and more importance whilst adding to the list of species endemic to our country.”
Dr Spiteri explained that the new regulations are strengthening the ERA’s powers, among others, for removal or control of invasive alien species.
Besides increasing penalties for crimes in this regard, the updated legislation also provies protection for specific sites and gives the ERA more flexibility to protect zones with ecological, geological and natural characteristics.