The overall objective of this project is the sustainable conservation of plant genetic resources in agricultural and natural ecosystems, and the reversal in the trend of their genetic erosion.

The project specifically focuses on a number of local landraces and varieties of cultivated plants and indigenous wild species which are under a high threat and at risk of disappearance. Furthermore, such plants, being of traditional, agricultural and cultural importance, need to be conserved because they form a part of our national identity. Moreover, the project will contribute to effectively enhance communication, education and public awareness on the valuable genetic resources of the Maltese Islands and their sustainable use.

Inherently, this project also complements Malta’s international obligations in promoting the EU Biodiversity Strategy and achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by the year 2020.

The four main components of the project are the following:

  1. The setting-up of a visitors’ centre, botanical garden and a seed-testing laboratory at the Plant Biotechnology Centre at Lija, together with the upgrading of the existing Diagnostic and Control laboratories;
  1. The study and sustainable conservation of wild plants of nature conservation value;
  1. The study and sustainable conservation of cultivated agricultural crops and their wild relative species; and
  1. The study and sustainable conservation of local varieties of fruit trees, with an emphasis on citrus trees.

The project was implemented by the Plant Health Directorate under the auspices of the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, with the collaboration of Nature Trust Malta between January 2013 and September 2015.

With a budget of €2.6 million, the project was co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) under Measure 214, Sub-Measure 10 – Support for the Conservation of Genetic Resources in Agriculture.