THE PROJECT

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The SIMBIOTIC project will be jointly implemented by the Institute of Earth Systems of the University of Malta, the Ministry for Gozo under the Eco-Gozo initiative, the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Catania and the Comune di Pachino.

SIMBIOTIC is an environmental pilot 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 will be designed based on an assessment of local plant, animal and habitat components, an analysis of landscape changes and the identification of priority connectivity areas.

In SE Sicily, habitat improvement will focus on privately-owned transitional coastal wetland ecosystem, Pantano Ponterio, that was officially designated for protection (SAC and SPA) yet is encroached and degraded. The project will propose improved area planning and management in collaboration with the Comune di Pachino.

In Gozo, the project will engage with volunteer private and government land owners and users in the participatory planning and implementation of habitat restoration actions through the planting of native woody vegetation in suitable configurations in the rural landscape to contribute to improved ecological connectivity between selected areas. At present, three government owned sites where identified for ecological restoration. One is located in the Ministry for Gozo's Government Experimental Farm (soon the designated as the Centre for Innovation in Rural Sciences and Environmental Management) in Xewkija. The second site is Ta' Lambert, Xewkija and the third site is at Ta' Tocc and it-Taksis, located on the NE coast, limits of Nadur. All of these sites have been modified by humans in the recent past, mostly for agricultural purposes and now are abandoned.  

Planting material will be propagated from seeds and propagules collected in extensive wild populations, as well as commercially procured. Morphological and molecular characterization of carob varieties will be undertaken to enhance the value of carob germplasm used. Genetic diversity of generations of evergreen oak will confirm the viability of severely fragmented local populations.

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This project is part-financed by the European Union European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Co-financing rate: 85% Eu Funds; 15% National Funds.

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