The Institute of Earth Systems in collaboration with the National Museum of Natural History and Butterfly Conservation Europe, under the auspices of the ABLE project (Assessing Butterflies in Europe), have started to formulate a butterfly monitoring scheme for the Maltese Islands.
This initiative kicked-off on Monday 23 November with a workshop held both online and, for the limited number of people that could attend, at the Natural History Museum in Mdina. Throughout this workshop there were various talks by specialists in the field, both locally and abroad. Prof Louis F Cassar, Director of the Institute, presented an overview on local biogeography and the challenges pertaining to conservation, while Mr John J. Borg, Senior Curator of the National Museum of Natural History, talked about the history of the museum and its large collection of Lepidoptera, as well as on the importance of Buskett Gardens.
Other speakers included specialist colleagues from mainland Italy and Sicily, who discussed their own monitoring schemes, as well as Ms Sue Collins and Ms Cristina Sevilleja, on European policy and the ABLE project, respectively. The historical perspective of Lepidoptera in the Maltese Islands was discussed by Ms Stephanie Sammut, on behalf of Mr Paul Sammut. Mr Guido Bonett, a wildlife photographer, shared his experience, as a nature photographer, on local butterfly decline, and the Institute’s Technical Officer, Ms Christa Pisani, showcased the methodologies used worldwide and through the ABLE Project. The Workshop was moderated by Julia Bonello Boissevain.
Through the projects’ website and an accompanying mobile app, butterfly monitoring can now easily be facilitated locally. This is a great way to involve citizen science, as anyone with a smart phone out on a walk can monitor butterflies encountered in the Maltese countryside. Through data collected by volunteers we will be able to monitor trends for local butterfly populations, as also compare observation data with other European countries.
We encourage anyone interested in such monitoring scheme to contact Ms Christa Pisani for further details on how to become a volunteer.