Ambassador profile


  Name: Helen Raine
  Function: Project Manager
  Country: Malta
  E-mail: helen.raine(at)birdlifemalta(dot)org
  Tel: +356 21347 644

Organisation profile


  Organisation: BirdLife (Malta)
  E-mail: office(at)birdlifemalta(dot)org
+356 21347 654
or +356 21347 646
  Established: 1960
  Category: NGO
  Number of staff: 8
Site profile
  Site name:
Ramla Tat-Torri/ Rdum Tal-Madonna
(L'Ahrax Tal-Mellieha)
Mediterranean, Malta
Centre Location: E 24 22 26 (Longitude) - 35 59 26 (Latitude)
  Land area: 74.91 ha  
  Nearest urban settlement: Mellieha  
  Natura 2000 ID: SPA/09/2006 - MT0000009  
  Annual visitor count: 6,000 annually approximately  
  Majority of visitors from:
  • 80 % locals
  • approximately 20% of visitors from abroad
  Site description:

The site is a peninsular in the North-East of Malta. It’s a wild, rocky area with sheer cliffs and crumbling limestone shores. This spectacular location overlooks the Mediterranean to Gozo and Comino.
The site is important for its garrigue vegetation, typical of Malta, which includes plants such as Wild Thyme (Thymbra capitata), Mediterranean Heath (Erica multiflora) and Maltese Spurge (Euphorbia melitensis). There are a number of orchid species which grow on the site, including the Bumble Bee Orchid (Ophrys bombyliflora), the Scented Bug Orchid (Orchis fragrans) and the Maltese Pyramid Orchid (Anacamptis urvilleana). Reptiles include chameleons and skinks, while many species of butterflies flourish here.
Rdum tal-Madonna is also home to internationally  important numbers of the unique Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan). The larger sized Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) also breeds in small numbers alongside the Yelkouans. Resident species include Malta’s national bird, The Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) and the Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata). Short-toed Larks (Calandrella brachydactyla) breed on the site and wintering birds include Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros). During migration, the site is important as a resting ground for the many species that pass through the islands.


All species
  Species code Latin name Common / local name
  A464 Puffinus yelkouan Yelkouan Shearwater
  A010 Calonectris diomedea Cory’s Shearwater
  A243 Calandrella brachydactyla Short-toed Lark
  A103 Falco peregrinus Peregrine Falcon
  A281 Monticola solitarius Blue Rock Thrush
  A303 Sylvia conspicillata Spectacled Warbler
  1239 Elaphe situla  
  4106 Orobanche densiflora  
  4102 Anacamptis urvilleana  
All habitats
  Habitat code Common / local name
  5410 Astralago-Plantaginetum subulatae phrygana
  8210 Calcareous sub-types
  5330 All types
  3140 Hard oligo-mesotrophic waters with benthic vegetation of chara formations
  2210 Crucianellion maritimae fixed beach dunes
  1240 Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranan coasts (with endemic Limonium spp.)
  2220 Dunes with Euphorbia terracina
  2110 Embryonic shifting dunes
  1210 Annual vegetation of drift lines
Stakeholder profile        
  Stakeholder activity in the management planning process:
  Stakeholder group activity level
  hi ←       → nil
  Local Government        
  Central Government        
  Green NGOs        
  Private sector (eg. Hoteliers)        
  Private individuals (eg. residents)        
  Port authorities        
  Recreational groups        
  Other: Fishermen        
  Other: Trappers        
  Other: Commercial and Private boat owners        
  Other: MEPA (Malta Environment and Planning Authority)        

Stakeholder success stories

Background: The site is the focus of a high profile project in Malta called the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project. Malta has around 10% of the world’s population of Yelkouan Shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan) and is important for seabirds at an international level. The project aims to reverse the decline of these seabirds and also to improve the project site of Rdum tal-Madonna (L’Ahrax tal Mellieha) for wildlife and for people. The designation of Marine IBAS and ultimately SPAs is a key goal.
The project launch was in March 2007 so we are still in the process of identifying our key stakeholders and seeking meetings with them.


Official Project Launch with all partners and stakeholders outlining the importance of the site to Malta and on an international platform.

The aims and objectives of the Yelkouan Shearwater Project were outlined along with the key threats to the birds and the actions that will be taken to address these. This official visit included Local and Central government authorities, media organisations, political party leaders, national and international NGOs.


Intensive Public Relations campaign highlighting the national and international importance of the birds and the site

The campaign included printed and electronic media coverage, TV and radio slots, launch of website, inauguration of official project sign.


Guided walk and talk with over 150 members of the Ramblers’ Association.


Photo credit: AFM, N.Collier, F .Dhermain, A. Gauci, A. Raine, H.Raine.
Communication profile

Activities and products for the communication of Natura 2000


Action plan meetings
Guided visits
Other: (All literature in Maltese and English)
  • Project leaflet for general public
  • Project dossier for decision makers
  • Project sign
  • Project panels for exhibitions
  • Project website
  • Project video, longer version to be done later in project
  • Walks on site (Site Warden and Project Manager)
  • Talks to interest groups
  • Direct communication to visitors on site
  • Press releases (4 completed to date) Aim of one monthly on average.
  • Feature articles (papers) (3 completed to date) Aim of one quarterly on average
  • Magazine articles (5 to date) Aim of one bimonthly on average
  • Website articles (3 to date) Aim of one bimonthly on averge
  • TV features (4 completed to date) Aim of one bimonthly on average
  • TV programmes – several short features to date, more planned
  • Radio programmes – (1 to date) to be investigated
  • International media


  • Improvement to partner websites planned
  • Link to project website on every partner website
  • Link to project website on other LIFE project websites
  • Link to project website on associated organisations websites


  Event frequency
At least once per month


  Use of seasonal workers / volunteers


  Kind of work / volunteering opportunities
  • Boat based observation
  • Assisting with monitoring work to assess population sizes and breeding success rates for the Yelkouan colony
  • Site based work including biodiversity monitoring work, repair of rubble walls, communication with visitors etc


  Communication literature produced
Magazines / periodicals
Guides / maps
Other: Website


  Communication target groups
General public
Local community
Site visitors
Other: Media
Other: Fishermen
Other: Pleasure boat owners and private boat owners
Other: Recreational visitors


  The organisation has a dedicated communication strategy for Natura 2000
No, but we do have a dedicated strategy for the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project which is focused on this site.


  Site involved in joint working / networking


  Details of joint working / networking activity
We are part of the BirdLIfe International Partnership.


Site management profile
"EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project; Site Management at Rdum tal-Madonna in Malta"
  Key site management issues:


Minimising human impact on the designated habitats and species, in particular Yelkouan shearwaters. This involves:

  • Managing access
  • Reducing disturbance through noise and light
  • Preventing dumping
  • Waste management etc.

Hunting and trapping also takes place on site which can result in damage to the designated site interest.


  Integration of Natura 2000 in overall site management:


Natura 2000 criteria are critical to the management of the site. They will be at the heart of the management plan which is in the process of being developed as part of the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project. This plan will develop the conservation objectives for the Natura 2000 interest on the site and will outline the objectives, monitoring regime and targets. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority are fully involved in the development of the management plan in their role as the competent authority.


  Key site management objectives:


The site management objectives are still being developed, but these are likely to be:

  • Effective waste management (to prevent rats which eat shearwater chicks on site) – target recreational vistors especially campers
  • Effective access management (to prevent trampling, dumping, disturbance, illegal camping, off roading) – target recreational visitors especially campers and visitors in vehicles.
  • Effective surveys and monitoring of key plant and animal communities (SAC/SPA designated interest)
  • Setting of conservation objectives for key plant and animal communities (SAC/SPA designated interest)
  • Establishing the conservation status of key plant and animal communities and reversing declines esp. among the Yelkouan shearwater population
  • Management of conflicts among key stakeholder groups esp recreation
  • Management of illegal hunting and trapping
  • Effective visitor communication

The site was only designated in 2007 and until the launch of the Yelkouan Shearwater Project, had virtually no site management at all apart from a draft plan for the sand dunes habitat with some work in this area. The most important feature of the site is that it supports approximately a third of the breeding population of Yelkouan Shearwaters in Malta. The Maltese Islands themselves support around 10% of the world’s population so conservation efforts in Malta are important at an international level.
The birds are threatened by a variety of factors including rats (which predate eggs and chicks), inappropriate building and development, light and noise pollution, dumping, human disturbance, hunting, habitat loss etc. Over the last 25 years there has been a noticeable decline in the breeding population of this species.
Apart from the seabird colonies, the site is important for its variety of habitats (listed above). These are threatened by recreational use, particularly camping, but also absailing, rock climbing, off roading, biking, trial bikes, walkers, bird trappers and hunters. Trapping in particular affects the vegetation of the site as areas of garrigue are completely clered (by burning or treatment with pesticides) to provide clear areas of ground for bird catching areas. Large numbers of concrete and iron structures (for holding decoy birds) are also placed into the ground as part of this activity. Hunting and trapping hides are illegal structures which also affect the vegetation and both pastimes obviously affect the bird interest of the site.
Site Management work is at the very beginning on this site with stakeholders being identified.


  Stakeholders targeted as part of management action:


  • MEPA (Malta Environment and Planning Authority)
  • Project partners (AFM, MCFS, MMA, NMNH, BLM, RSPB, SPEA)
  • Absailers
  • Campers
  • Picnickers / BBQs
  • Local residents
  • Tourism authorities
  • Local council
  • Police
  • Local hotels & campsite owner
  • Yachters / boaters
  • Fishermen
  • Trappers / hunters
  • Other NGOs
  • Church (there is a chapel on site)


  Description of work carried out / methods and methodology:


  • A site warden has been employed to undertake monitoring and site management work, including visitor communication and management.
  • Stakeholders have been identified.
  • A draft management plan is being drawn up, starting with the collection of background information.


  Results of action and activities:


We are still at the beginning of the process.


  Indication of budget allocation for these tasks:


Euro 997,220 for the project as a whole. The site management work is just a part of the overall project but it is difficult to extract a figure for site management only.

The EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project is 50% funded by the EU LIFE Nature Fund. Additional funds come from the project partners, with contributions from HSBC and MEPA.


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Rdum Tal-Madonna: MT