The launch of a pilot project has commenced with the recruitment of three environmental rangers.
This was announced by Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia, who explained that environmental rangers will be trained on local flora and fauna, regulations pertaining to protected and green areas, community involvement, as well as existing threats and pressures on the local environment.
The rangers will work under the direction of Ambjent Malta’s Scientific Team which is responsible for the implementation of environmental projects in Natura 2000 sites and rural areas, and the development of green infrastructure.
Minister Farrugia explained that the main role of environmental rangers will be to raise environmental awareness and ensure that the general public respects rural zones. “The environmental projects in our rural areas require strong enforcement. This pilot project was kicked off with the recruitment of three environmental rangers who will be protecting the surroundings in various areas around the country. At the moment the rangers are currently undertaking in-house training by Ambjent Malta, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), and local environmental NGOs, and will have both an enforcement role as well as an educational one. This is just the beginning: in the coming year we will see more recruitment as Malta will not only have strong environmental projects but also strong enforcement”, said the minister.
A Chief Scientific Officer who will be heading this team was recently recruited together with an Environmental Officer who will be directly responsible in coordinating the rangers’ activities.
The rangers will work closely with local communities and interact with the public during their patrols and visits.
They will also be responsible for assisting Ambjent Malta in the monitoring of environmental rehabilitation projects, including the monitoring of planted trees and initiatives to control of invasive species, amongst others.
The environmental rangers will also deliver information programmes to school children and the general public and collect geographic data, including occurrences of invasive and non-native species, fly-tipping, and other illegal activities such as vandalism and off-roading.
Following the pilot phase, the environmental rangers’ initiative will be expanded in 2021 with the recruitment of an additional 13 officials who will be tasked to patrol most of Malta’s protected and rural areas, including Natura 2000 sites.