The Ministry for Gozo participates in an EU-funded project – SIMBIOTIC
The Ministry for Gozo together with the University of Malta have recently launched an EU funded project in Gozo focusing on ecological restoration - SIMBIOTIC (Sicily-Malta BIOgeographical Transboundary Insular Connectivity). SIMBIOTIC is an environmental restoration project aiming at enhancing the ecological connectivity of the South East Sicily-Gozo transboundary migratory route through ecological restoration, improved area management, integrated environmental planning and policy and enhanced local environmental consciousness.
This project was launched in May and is co-financed by the European Union under the Italia-Malta 2007-2013 territorial cooperation program. Other partners in the project include the Botany Department of the University of Catania and the Comune di Pachino. The Institute of Earth Systems of the University of Malta is leading this project.
The SIMBIOTIC project which covers the period between April 2011 and March 2013, was allocated a total budget of €1.16 million, of which 85% is coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).The remaining 15% are composed of national contributions by the four partners. The Ministry for Gozo is contributing an additional 184,000 Euro from the Eco-Gozo funds for this project. SIMBIOTIC dove tails perfectly with the implementation of Government’s eco-Gozo vision that aims to turn Gozo into an eco-island by 2020 through protection of the Gozitan lifestyle, and of the island’s environment, resources, culture and identity, so that these will play a significant part in attracting quality tourism and sustainable investment to the island.
The Eco-Gozo Regional Development Directorate within the Ministry for Gozo started working on this project following the kick-off meeting in May. During the meeting, the four partners discussed administrative matters as well as methodologies to be adopted so that by March 2013 all project objectives will be met.
This project proposes a number of activities in Gozo and in Pachino featuring habitat restoration, improved site management, rehabilitation of the Pandani (marshes) of South East Sicily and of the natural Mediterranean maquis in Gozo. An important component of the project will be varietal and genetic investigations of the Holm Oak and the Carob, two important arboreal members of Mediterranean maquis ecosystems. Interaction between the project partners, private landowners and the general public will also be an important aspect of SIMBIOTIC.