BirdLife Malta AGM approves Resolution calling for Wildlife Crime Unit

October 20, 2019 12:57 am

Resolution approved by BirdLife Malta members at the 2019 Annual General Meeting also calls on Government to refrain from opening the next spring hunting season even for Quail

BirdLife Malta members have approved a Resolution calling on the Government to (i) establish a Wildlife Crime Unit, and (ii) refrain from opening next year’s spring hunting season even for Quail (Summien).

The Resolution was approved during BirdLife Malta’s Annual General Meeting for 2019 which was held on Friday 18th October at Salina Nature Reserve.

(From left to right) Treasurer Norman Chetcuti, President Darryl Grima, Secretary General Saviour Balzan, Council Secretary Christian Debono

The 57th AGM kicked off with a welcome address by BirdLife Malta Secretary General Saviour Balzan who outlined the work carried out by the environmental NGO during the past year, including the efforts made to increase people engagement, membership and visibility, together with the several initiatives taken on a conservation, educational, land management and policy level. Balzan spoke about the present projects BirdLife Malta is leading, which include BirdLife Malta’s LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija project, and also about other projects which are in the pipeline.

He made particular emphasis on the investment being made to make the eNGO’s nature reserves more visitor-friendly and mentioned how the number of visitors to these sites – including school children – has increased in the past year. With the AGM being held just a few days before the start of this year’s trapping season the following Sunday, in his introduction Saviour Balzan also referred to the continuous monitoring of illegal hunting and trapping activities and promised that BirdLife Malta will continue to push the authorities for the establishment of the much-needed Wildlife Crime Unit.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana presenting the Operational and Financial Results for 2018

Finally, the BirdLife Malta Secretary General set three main targets for the upcoming year: (i) the consolidation of Salina, the most recent land management project entrusted to BirdLife Malta, as a nature reserve, (ii) more work to increase membership and volunteers within BirdLife Malta, and (iii) exploring new sources of financing for the NGO.  

BirdLife International’s Nature’s Hero award for 2019, which was presented to Raymond Vella

Following the approval of last year’s AGM minutes, BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana presented the 2018 Operational Report & Financial Statements which were approved by BirdLife Malta members at the meeting.

Those present then assisted to the presentation of a special award to Raymond Vella, who has just retired following 15 years of sterling service as a ranger and warden at BirdLife Malta’s nature reserves. Vella was honoured with BirdLife International’s Nature’s Hero award for 2019.

This annual award is bestowed in recognition to outstanding commitment to conservation and helping local communities work in harmony with nature. Through his outstanding career, Ray has done it all. From caretaking biodiversity to planting trees, from recovering injured birds to playing an important role in the day-to-day running of nature reserves with a special focus on Foresta 2000. His passion and dedication, however, were not appreciated by all. Ray was targeted by hunters and had his farm torched. He faced intimidation tactics…from vandalism to harassment and was even shot at twice!

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana (left) presenting the Nature’s Hero 2019 award certificate to Raymond Vella during a short official ceremony held following the AGM at our offices (Photo by Nathaniel Attard)
New BirdLife Malta Council (left to right) Saviour Balzan, Eurydike Kovacs, Raymond Galea, Kathleen Galea, Norman Chetcuti, Marvic Doughty, Paul Portelli, Denise Casolani, Darryl Grima (missing from photo Nicholas Galea, Miriam Camilleri)

This year’s AGM also approved the new BirdLife Malta Council for the upcoming two years. BirdLife Malta received 11 candidate applications for the Council election and as per statute this is the number of members that constitute the BirdLife Malta Council, which meant that there was no need to hold an election during the AGM. The newly-formed council will elect the President, Secretary General and Treasurer during the first meeting.  The elected Council members are: 

  • Saviour Balzan 
  • Miriam Camilleri 
  • Denise Casolani 
  • Norman Chetcuti 
  • Marvic Doughty 
  • Kathleen Galea 
  • Nicholas Galea 
  • Raymond Galea 
  • Darryl Grima 
  • Eurydike Kovacs 
  • Paul Portelli 

Following this, CEO Mark Sultana presented to members the renewed BirdLife Malta Strategy 2020-22 before BirdLife Malta President Darryl Grima brought the AGM to a close with a short address. A number of videos were also shown to the audience during the meeting, including a feature about the latest illegally shot protected birds which were released back to the wild by BirdLife Malta following a period of rehabilitation.

All photos by Kristina Govorukha

A video summing up this year’s AGM