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Sicily-Malta biogeographical transboundary insular connectivity

OP Italia - Malta 2007-2013, A1. 2.1-17, April 2011 - April 2013


Sicily and the Maltese Islands form a critical link for the ecological connectivity of the central Mediterranean migratory route between Europe and Africa. However, human pressure through intensive agriculture, urbanization and the development of residential tourist complexes has resulted in the degradation of the cross-border corridor area and fragmentation and decline in its ecological value, with negative consequences on the region’s rich biodiversity. This project proposed to strengthen the planning and management and restore a system of southeastern Sicilian Natura 2000 protected coastal wetlands of primary national and European community importance, and rehabilitate stepping stones of natural Mediterranean maquis habitat in Gozo’s agricultural landscape to enhance the ecological connectivity of the transboundary area. Participatory planning and implementation of landscape restoration actions were conducted with the local administrations of the Comune di Pachino in the Provincia di Siracusa, the Ministry and local councils in Gozo, as well as local land owners/users. Constraints and opportunities for improved connectivity management and landscape-level biodiversity conservation in planning and policy-making were uncovered through dialogue with key decision-makers and practitioners, leading to guidelines for cross-sectoral integration as well as stronger consultation and joint planning practices on both sides of the Sicily channel. 

The SIMBIOTIC project was jointly implemented by the Institute of Earth Systems of the University of Malta, the Ministry for Gozo, the Botany Department of the University of Catania and the Comune di Pachino. SIMBIOTIC is an environmental restoration project aiming at enhancing the ecological connectivity of the SE Sicily-Gozo transboundary migratory route through ecological restoration, improved area management, integrated environmental planning and policy and enhanced local environmental consciousness. Restoration interventions were designed based on an assessment of local plant, animal and habitat components, an analysis of landscape changes and the identification of priority connectivity areas. 

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Last Updated: 23 January 2015

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