CNRS & UoM Join Forces to Tackle Biodiversity & Ecology

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CNRS & UoM Join Forces to Tackle Biodiversity & EcologyThe Dean of the University of Malta’s Faculty of Science, Professor Charles V Sammut, and the Director of the CNRS Office for the Mediterranean, Dr Arnaud Lalo, recently organised a visit by a delegation led by Dr Françoise Gaill, Director of the CNRS Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE). This visit followed a partnership agreement that the University of Malta and CNRS signed in March 2011, and the establishment of a CNRS representative office for the Mediterranean housed within the Physics and Mathematics Building of the Faculty of Science.

Malta’s unique location makes it a valuable case study for understanding the overall Mediterranean socio-ecosystem, which is threatened by global changes as well as by human activities. The combined expertise of INEE and the University of Malta enables interdisciplinary scientific studies to be conducted to address social and environmental challenges the region is currently facing and will be facing in future.

The other members of the French delegation were Professor Thierry Gauquelin, University of Provence, and Professor Alexander Ereskovsky, DIMAR Centre for Oceanology, Aix-Marseille, who held discussions with members of the Department of Biology (UoM) concerning collaboration in the study of biodiversity in the Mediterranean.

The delegation was shown around the Physics Department’s Atmospheric Research Station on Gozo at Ta’ Giordan Lighthouse in Ghasri and the Xewkija University Centre. On the 24th of June, a seminar was held at the Msida Campus. Dr Gaill gave a presentation about INEE and offered some general ideas for collaboration with University of Malta researchers. Professor Gauquelin and Professor Ereskovsky also spoke about their work and about collaboration with their respective organisations. Short presentations by University of Malta researchers focused on the ongoing research efforts related to biodiversity, the environment and the anthropological aspects associated with biodiversity and global change.

This visit led to the formulation of a roadmap for the upcoming scientific cooperation between France and Malta in the fields of biodiversity and ecology. These include: joint studies of Maltese terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity in the framework of the BioDivMEx project under the umbrella of the MISTRALS programme; possible selection of the Maltese islands under the man-surroundings observatories (OHM) policy and tools of INEE; joint organisation of international summer schools on the theme of environment; exchange of researchers, faculty and students; co-ordinated promotion of the interests of research on and in the Mediterranean.

These initiatives will enable the research teams involved to benefit from the potential of the Maltese islands to boost scientific cooperation in the Mediterranean, and will promote understanding of the functioning of the Mediterranean eco-region.

Photo shows from left to right: UoM Dean of the Faculty of Science Prof. Charles V. Sammut, CNRS/INEE Director Dr Françoise Gaill and UoM Pro-Rector for Research and Innovation Prof. Richard Muscat.

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