Title: Launch and presentation of the project: FAST - Fight Alien Species Transborder
Date: Friday 16 April
Within the framework of: INTERREG V-A ITALIA-MALTA 2014-2020 (call 02/19), on 16 April at 10:30 an online meeting will take place for the launching and presentation of the project: FAST - Fight Alien Species Transborder. In this meeting, a review of the project proposal will be presented highlighting the main aims and objectives.
The project is in line with the strategy of the European Union, addressing the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of the eco-system services, as well as their restoration, within the possible limits, on the Union’s territory.
Considering the fact that currently, biological invasions are regarded as the second most important factor that threaten biodiversity, one of the objectives of this project is precisely to fight against such accidental introductions, the naturalisation of alien invasive species (AIS) and harmful plant pathogens to indigenous plants.
It is more evident than ever before that the issue of AIS, is to be dealt with on a large scale and using common methodologies over the transboundary zones. This is of particular relevance to facilitate exchange of information within connected territories and require prompt and urgent actions.
The FAST project, in full coherence with the European strategy outlined above, will counteract the introduction, naturalisation and spread of alien invasive species that damage biodiversity in Sicily and in the Maltese archipelago by means of their recognition and classification within priority’s scale; their control and/or eradication; the identification and management of pathways and the means of introduction and diffusion; the data processing of guidelines and adoption of best practices, based also on education and environmental communication.
The project’s activities shall have the duration of 30 months and will come to an end in May 2023.
The actions for the control/eradication and restoration will take place within some protected areas (Nature 2000 sites and/or the natural Reserves of Sicily): 1. Simeto oasis and 2. Fiumefreddo (Managing Institution: Metropolitan City of Catania); 3. Forest Macchia of Irminio River and 4. Vittoria’s Pine Forest (Managing Institution: Free Ragusa Consortium); 5) L-Inħawi tal-Buskett u tal-Girgenti; 6) L-Inħawi tax-Xlendi u tà Wied Kantra e 7) Il-Magħluq ta' Marsaskala (Responsabile: Environment & Resources Authority - ERA).
The partnership’s structure (Università di Catania, Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights, University of Malta, Città Metropolitana di Catania, Libero Consorzio Comunale di Ragusa and the involvment of the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) of Malta), allows to oversee the quality and efficacy of the solutions identified in the methodologies and interventions of participation and the diffusion of information to the stakeholders and the residing population. An important aspect of the project has to do with the development of the shared innovations, which will be disseminated to the Mediterranean basin and supported by concrete actions via Citizen Science.
This kick-off meeting will be addressed by Prof. Francesco Priolo (Rector, Università di Catania), Hon. Dr Anton Refalo (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food, and Animal Rights, Malta); Hon. Dr Aaron Farrugia, (Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning, Malta); Hon. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi (Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds); Prof. Ing. Saviour Zammit (Pro-Rector, Research and Knowledge Transfer, University of Malta), Prof. Agatino Russo (Director, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Università di Catania), Dr Salvo Pogliese (Mayor, Metropolitan City of Catania), Dr Salvatore Piazza (Extraordinary Commissioner, Ragusa’s Free Communal Consortium), Dr.ssa Maria Cristina Stimolo (Head of the INTERREG V-A Italy-Malta program); Ms Carmen Dalli (Director of the Funds and Programmes Division).
The project will be outlined by Prof. Giorgio Sabella (Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Università di Catania), who is the lead partner, while the involvement and actions that will take place by the other partners will be addressed by the corresponding scientific heads of the various institutions: Dr Dennis Sciberras (Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights); Prof. David Mifsud (Institute of Earth Systems, Division of Rural Sciences and Food Systems, University of Malta); Dr Gaetano Torrisi (Metropolitan City of Catania), Dr Maria Carolina Di Maio (Free Communal Consortium of Ragusa), and Mr Darrin Stevens (Environment & Resources Authority, Malta).
The meeting will be concluded by Prof. Gian Pietro Giusso del Galdo (Director of the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Università di Catania). Prof. Oscar Lisi (Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Università di Catania), responsible for the communication of the FAST project, will moderate the interventions.
The meeting shall be addressed to: the Maltese and Italian Environmental authorities, the Custom’s border officers, the institutions that monitor protected areas, research institutions and all other sectors that might be negatively affected by the introduction of alien species (eg. agriculture), University students, MCAST students, teachers and lecturers, Environmental associations and the general public.
For information and updates on the event and the project, access the Facebook page.