MHAL & Parliamentary Secretariat for European Funds – Collaboration between Malta and Sicily for the promotion of Natura 2000 sites

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), together with the University of Malta and Heritage Malta, kicked off the first CORALLO stakeholder event in Malta to commence discussions on marine and terrestrial Natura 2000 sites. This event was addressed by Minister for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government José Herrera and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

“The purpose of this project is to raise awareness of our natural and historical heritage and to make it more accessible. Therefore, in today’s meeting, we are promoting the benefits that the CORALLO project has to offer to various audiences. This project gives the public access to areas that they may not have been able to visit, through virtual reality and exhibitions. On the other hand, access to sites of historical importance should not be limited to being only virtual, thus we will continue to ensure that we protect and continue to care for these sites, so that they remain accessible to present and future generations,” stated Minister Herrera.

CORALLO is an EU funded project through the Interreg V-A Italia-Malta 2014-2020 fund, which was formally approved for funding in October 2020. It is part of a wider international project, which includes other Sicilian partners such as ARPA Sicilia, the University of Palermo, the Consorzio Plemmirio and Corissia.

Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that the project is being conducted with an investment of €1.4 million, whereby €1.2 million are all European funds. He explained the importance of the investment, which is intended to give particular results, whereby six protected sites will adopt plans for the responsible use of these sites, whilst ensuring to raise awareness and to educate the general public. Parliamentary Secretary Zrinzo Azzopardi concluded by saying that these collaborations between Malta and Sicily give us an opportunity to create more awareness on a wider level, as we have an obligation to present the realities of the Mediterranean within an EU perspective.

The CORALLO project will include various resources and means of informal education for a varied spectrum of audiences. These will be installed at four popular visitors’ centres operated by Heritage Malta, namely the Malta Maritime Museum, the Għar Dalam Museum, Ħaġar Qim/Mnajdra, and the National Museum of Natural History.

ERA CEO Michelle Piccinino said that the Environment and Resources Authority is committed to educating on the importance of protecting our natural environment and nurturing responsible use of this asset. The CORALLO Project will embark on a nationwide campaign to raise awareness on these sites.

ERA has designated 35% of Malta’s marine waters as ‘Marine Protected Areas’ under the Natura 2000 network. The project focuses on the responsible enjoyment of ecosystem services and the assets offered within Natura 2000 sites, which can be exploited by the public in a sustainable manner. Such awareness aims to achieve its goals through a diverse array of tools focusing on education and entertainment. This 30-month project is expected to end in 2023.