The project of the Reintroduction of the Barn Owl into the Wild on the Maltese Islands, managed by the Federation for Hunting and Conservation - Malta (FKNK), has been chosen by the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) as the project of this month of March 2023 as part of the FACE Biodiversity Manifesto.
Every month FACE selects a conservation project carried out by hunting associations in Europe as the project of the month. These projects highlight some of the many great initiatives hunters are making to preserve biodiversity.
In 2009 the FKNK launched an initiative to re-introduce the barn owl in the Maltese countryside. In 2015 the FKNK was entrusted with the administration of the 16th century Knights of Malta Farmhouse “Razzett tal-Bagħal” inside Buskett Gardens adjacent to which a facility was built for captive breeding of this species. This project is constantly monitored by the Authority for Resources and the Environment (ERA) and is co-financed by the Fund for the Conservation of Wild Birds administer
ed by the Ministry for Gozo.
In the year 2020 the first offspring were released into the wild, and subsequently in the years 2021 and 2022 15 others were released into the wild which were the offspring of the barn owl sub-species that are resident in the Mediterranean. Earlier this year, several adequate nest-boxes were installed in Buskett and its surroundings to serve as ideal breeding stations for the released owls. The year 2023 will be
a more interesting one, because several offspring will be fitted with satellite equipment to obtain more information about the behaviour of the barn owl especially since these are active during the night.
The FKNK is looking ahead so that later this year, together with the concerned Authorities, the project will be extended with the release of other offspring in urban areas.
The new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which includes a new restoration initiative, calls for more community-based actions led by citizens, businesses, or social partners to protect and restore the natural environment of Europe. The FKNK feels honoured that another one of its projects has once again been chosen as the Project of the month by FACE, after the Maltese Native Trees and Shrubs Project was chosen as the Project of the month by FACE in March 2021. All this shows once more, that hunters and trappers are active and will be essential players in the implementation of the strategy throughout Europe for the coming years.