In September, Prof. David Mifsud, Thomas Cassar, Daniel Mangion, Arthur Lamoliere and Stephen Mifsud formed the Maltese delegation for the 12th International Conference on Biological Invasions – Biological Invasions in a Changing World, held in Tartu, Estonia. Organised over the 12-16th of September by the Estonian Naturalists’ Society, and in collaboration with the open-access journal, Neobiota, the conference hosted more than 160 researchers and research groups from across the globe who came together to present and discuss research related to alien invasive pests.
During the conference, the team delivered both oral presentations and posters detailing different research efforts carried out within the framework of the FAST project. Stephen Mifsud presented the success story of how citizen science and rapid intervention participated in the success story of the complete eradication of an invasive species of fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Chiov) from Gozo. Arthur Lamoliere presented the preliminary methodology for Invasive plant monitoring using multispectral drone imagery, while Daniel Mangion gave an insight into the analysis of the biological and social data gathered during Malta’s first-ever BioBlitZ, held in late August 2022. The ongoing work related to the compilation of the databases of alien species, a major component of the FAST project, was co-presented by representatives of the two universities involved in the project: Thomas Cassar, an early career researcher, presented the chapter related to alien animals and insects, while Stephen Mifsud and Prof. Pietro Minissale, from the University of Catania, gave an overview of the alien and invasive plants present in protected areas of the Sicilian and Maltese Archipelago.
Sicilian and Maltese researchers of the consortium also represented the scientific work of the INTERREG FAST project during the 42° Congresso della Societa Italiana di Biogeografia – La Biodiversità in Italia al check up, held in Trieste (Italy) in June 2022. Together with Prof Vera D’Urso and Prof Giorgio Sabella, from the University of Catania, and Dr Salvatore Bella, from the Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Sicily (CREA), showcased the goals of the projects at an international level. The same delegates of the consortium presented more work at the 6th International Congress on Biodiversity “Biodiversity and the new scenarios on alien species, climate, environment and energy” held in Trapani, Sicily, with a focus on the issues related to the use of exotic insects predators, especially parasitoids, in biological control practice commonly used in agriculture. Other delegates, including PhD candidate Gianmarco Tavilla and Arthur Lamoliere, presented ecological monitoring of drones for botanic surveys at the 117° Congresso della Società Botanica Italiana, held in Bologna (Italy) in early September 2022
The Interreg Italia-Malta FAST Project aims to actively protect biodiversity by gathering information on the terrestrial alien species within Malta and Sicily. The project itself is part-financed by the European Union European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the INTERREG V-A Italy-Malta Programme (85% EU Funds, 15% National Funds).
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