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Conservation Works at Il-Magħluq ta' Marsaskala Coastal Lagoon

: A variety of actions, including regular cleaning of coastal lagoons; preparation of actions for long-term solutions including dredging and hydrological improvements; installation of aeration system to improve circulation and aesthetic impact; use of Floating Treatment Wetlands and other NBS to improve water quality; the involvement of locals; volunteers and students in the restoration of the site
: Malta
: Marsaskala
: 14592
: 2018
: 6 year
: Ongoing
: Yes
: Nature Trust - FEE Malta
: 35.8626
: 14.5623
Increased infiltration, water retention and flood protection
Biodiversity conservation or increased biodiversity
Yes, the project is an important contribution to the biodiversity conservation.
Ecosystem restoration and/or improved ecological connectivity
Yes, enhancing habitats and corridors for wildlife by reconnecting fragmented areas.
Increased quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
Yes, the project brings populations of the endemic fish to the Mediterranean to sustainable levels as well as the effective and sustainable management of the Natura 2000 site at il-Maghluq ta' Marsaskala.
Sustainable urbanisation
Green and blue infrastructure, as a NBS, is especially important for countries like Malta due to the disproportionate urban sprawl and population density. On account of the small size of the Islands, strategically-set-up green and blue infrastructure will improve the living experience for urban residents by providing better air quality, as well as greater psychological well-being through more open living space and closer contact with nature. The relatively short distances involved make for easy access to any green and blue infrastructure set-up anywhere within the country.
Improved aesthetic value
Yes, works are being carried out to improve the site’s ecology and aesthetics.
Creation of green jobs relating to the construction and maintenance of NBS
Yes, a site manager has been employed.
Increased communities' sense of ownership
Increased social interaction and inclusion
Yes, social cohesion and sense of community due to volunteering activities.
Increased willingness, participation, investment in NBS
Yes, through increased cooperation with the municipality and participation with students and volunteers.
Education, knowledge exchange and learning
Yes, this Natura 2000 site holds great potential as an educational site, in particular for the furtherance of the study and appreciation of the ecology, flora and fauna of the Maltese Islands and also provides a great opportunity for public education. One of NT-FEE's main pillars is Education towards the improvement of the Maltese natural heritage. Nature Trust Malta - FEE is particularly active in environmental education and focusses ondissemination of information, raising awareness, and developing skills through active democratic participation (e.g. Eko Skola students' participation in Nature Trust’s Wetlands Project - student groups have grown seedlings of Sea Rushes (Simar tal-Baħar/Juncus Maritimus). These plants can tolerate many harsh environmental conditions such as high salinity, temperature and flooding. Such plants are rare and protected, and will be used to reinforce the existing populations at Il-Ballut ta' Marsaxlokk Wetland.) (NT-FEE Malta, 2021a; NT-FEE Malta, 2021b).
Flooding risk
Yes, Marsaskala is one of the Flood Hazard Zones with increases in risks to life and property and damages caused by uncontrolled surface water runoff (ERA, 2014).
Low water quality
The results demonstrated that there was quite a lot of variation between the physico-chemical parameters which can be attributed to both the inter-seasonal changes and due to high amount of anthropogenic activities. In general, the mean value for each parameter considered was quite high when compared to the stipulated standards stipulated in the 2nd Water Catchment Management Plan for the Malta Water Catchment District. In comparison to the stipulated standards, the parameters of this study were quite high; for instance the standard listed for the particular SAC for nitrates was that of 0.0001g/l, whilst this study registered values ranging from 0.0007 g/L to 0.143 g/L, whilst the stipulated standard for phosphates was that of 0.014 mg/l while during the one-year sampling, the data varied from 0.0003 mg/L to 0.15mg/L. The reason for such fluctuations and discrepancy from the stipulated standard could be because that the waterbody in the area of study underwent substantial seasonal abiotic fluctuations within the habitat, as well as anthropogenic disturbance in the form of engineering works, chemical run-off from the surrounding fields and illegal dumping of waste material. (Bartolo, 2019).
Drought and heat risk
Yes, due to climate change. The Mediterranean Region is considered as a "hot-spot" of climate change, having been identified in global climate scenarios as one of the most responsive regions to climate change (Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). There is a consensus in scientific literature that average temperatures will rise across most of the Mediterranean Region, and that precipitation will decrease (Ulbrich et al. 2013; Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). Observed annual mean temperatures in the Mediterranean Region are now 1.4 °C higher than the average late-nineteenth-century levels particularly during the summer months (Cramer et al., 2018).
Loss of biodiversity
Yes, Malta’s biodiversity continues to experience various pressures and threats, with natural biotic/abiotic processes, invasive/other problematic species and genes, natural system modifications, human interference and disturbances, and natural system modifications being the most significant pressures (ERA, 2018).
Ecosystem degradation
Yes, the limited natural resources of the Islands have tended to exacerbate the effects of a varied spectrum of challenges which are currently being faced due to factors such as a rapidly growing tourism sector, an accelerated spate of construction activity which is further contributing to unsustainable levels of urbanisation, a general degradation of ecosystem services and a rapid increase in economic growth. (Malta Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, 2018).
Low availability of green infrastructure
Yes, because of the lack of green areas and open spaces due to urban expansion and the growing number of people living in urban areas. It should be noted that availability of green infrastructure is adversely affected by urban activities, such as emissions and waste production, not to mention urban sprawl. This poses challenges to safeguard the natural environment and biodiversity in view of changing landscapes, habitat fragmentation and degradation (ERA, 2018), as well as the increasing pressure placed on natural resources.
Low aesthetic value
Lack of local sense of ownership, participation
Limited knowledge about biodiversity
Yes, there are ongoing efforts to address knowledge gaps on marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the Maltese Islands. Further to public awareness, Malta recognises the importance of educating its children and students on environmental issues. In general there is a need to continue enhancing biodiversity awareness and gain more knowledge about the meaning of ‘biodiversity’. (ERA, 2018).
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11)
Yes, conservation works contribute significantly to urban ecosystem services capacity.
Climate action, resilience, mitigation and adaptation (SDG13)
Yes, an adaptive management approach is used for the conservation of the coastal lagoon and will contribute to an increase in carbon and nutrient sequestration.
Aquatic biodiversity (SDG14)
Yes, an applied sustainable management approach will result in the re-introduction of the killifish and will serve to increase the population of such species.
Terrestrial biodiversity (SDG15)
Yes, the conservation project is aimed at the implementation of the sustainable management of the Natura 2000 site at il-Magħluq in Marsaskala.
: Bartolo, D. 2019. Water quality characterisation and its implications within il-Magħluq ta’ Marsaskala (a Special Area of Conservation): Bachelor dissertation in Environmental Engineering, Institute of Applied Sciences, Malta College of Arts, Science & Technology. Cramer, W., Guiot, J., Fader, M., Garrabou, J., Gattuso, J.-P., Iglesias, A., Lange, M.A., Lionello , P., Llasat , M.C., Paz, S., Peñuelas, J., Snoussi, M., Toreti , A., Tsimplis, M.N., Xoplaki, E. 2018. Climate change and interconnected risks to sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Nature Climate Change. Retrieved from: https://doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0299-2.

ERA. 2014. The 2nd Water Catchment Management Plan for the Malta Water Catchment District 2015 - 2021. Information obtained: 2021-03-25. Available at:

ERA. 2018. STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT REPORT 2018: Chapter 8: Biodiversity. Reporting status from 2009 to 2015. Information obtained: 2021-02-12. Available at:

NT-FEE Malta. 2021a. So many ways you can make a difference. Information obtained: 2021-02-12. Available at:

NT-FEE Malta. 2021b. Il-Magħluq ta' Marsaskala. Information obtained: 2021-02-12. Available at:

Lionello, P., Scarascia, L. 2018. The relation between climate change in the Mediterranean region and global warming. In Regional Environmental Change, 2018, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1481–1493. Malta Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, 2018. Information obtained: 2021-02-12. Available at:

Malta Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, 2018. Information obtained: 2019-11-01. Available at:

Ulbrich U, Xoplaki E, Dobricic S, García-Herrera R, Lionello P, Adani M, Baldi M, Barriopedro D, Coccimiglio P, Dalu G, Efthymiadis D, Gaetani M, Galati MB, Gimeno L, Goodess CM, Jones PD, Kuglitsch FG, Leckebusch GC, Luterbacher J, Marcos-Moreno M, Mariotti A, Nieto R, Nissen KM, Pettenuzzo D, Pinardi N, Pino C, Shaw AGP, Sousa P, Toreti A, Trigo RM, Tsimplis M. 2013. Past and current climate changes in the Mediterranean region. In: Navarra A, Tubiana L (eds) Regional Assessment of Climate Change in the Mediterranean. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 9–52. Retrieved from: