Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



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1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

Filfla u l-Gzejjer ta' Madwarha

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:


1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site classified as SPA:2004-04
National legal reference of SPA designation No data
Date site proposed as SCI:2004-04
Date site confirmed as SCI:2008-03
Date site designated as SAC: No data
National legal reference of SAC designation: No data


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km]:


2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Mediterranean (100.00 %)


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3.1 Habitat types present on the site and assessment for them

Annex I Habitat types Site assessment
Code PF NP Cover [ha] Cave [number] Data quality A|B|C|D A|B|C
      RepresentativityRelative SurfaceConservationGlobal
1240  info      0.00 
1420  info      2.84  0.00 
8210  info      3.74  0.00 
  • PF: for the habitat types that can have a non-priority as well as a priority form (6210, 7130, 9430) enter "X" in the column PF to indicate the priority form.
  • NP: in case that a habitat type no longer exists in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Cover: decimal values can be entered
  • Caves: for habitat types 8310, 8330 (caves) enter the number of caves if estimated surface is not available.
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation)

3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
BA010Calonectris diomedea    100  200     
BA014Hydrobates pelagicus    5000  8000     
I4060Lampedusa imitatrix       
BA459Larus cachinnans    100  150     
BA464Puffinus yelkouan         
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
Akis subterranea               
Allium sp. nov. aff. commutatum               
Cyclodinus debilis               
Hemidactylus turcicus turcicus               
Mogoplistes squamiger               
Orobanche cernua               
Podarcis filfolensis filfolensis               
Senecio bicolor               
Senecio leucanthemifolius               
Senecio pygmaeus               
Tarentola mauritanica               
Trochoidea spratti despotti               
Tulostoma sp.               
Urginea pancration               
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

Filfla is an offshore rocky islet consisting mainly of calcareous rock, although some clay is also present. It consists of an elevated Upper Coralline Limestone plateau, which is bounded by steep escarpments and screes. Blue Clay is then found at the base of the Upper Coralline Limestone, while freshwater springs emanate from the Perched Aquifer above the clay. The screes of loose boulders and rock debris which surround the base of the cliff are mainly due to past bombing practice by the military. This practice stopped in 1971. This island once formed part of the mainland, but a geological fault led to it becoming an islet. Being isolated, it supports a unique and very important ecosystem. Among the flora and fauna present there are endemic species.The plateau is colonised by garrigue / steppe vegetation, including some halophylic species, particularly shrubs. The dominant permanently visible feature is the low shrub Suaeda vera. During spring there is also a very dense cover of very large plants akin of Allium commutatum (recorded as A. ampeloprasum in the floras). A valley-like depression is found close to the east of the plateau which is considerably covered by Lavatera arborea.

4.2 Quality and importance

The dominant permanently visible feature on the Filfla plateau is the low shrub Suaeda vera. During spring there is also a very dense cover of very large plants of Allium commutatum which is much larger than most mainland specimens - this flowers around the first of June when the plants are over 1.50 m high with large fist-sized flowerheads. In most publications on Maltese flora this plant appears as A. ampeloprasum, a species which is absent from Malta. Bulbs have been checked chromosomally and turned out to be pentaploid. The Filfla population might be a new undescribed entity. Such large leeks similar to the ones on Filfla are to be found on Hagret il-General and nearby Dwejra area (Gozo) (another Natura 2000 site). Other plants on the plateau include Daucus sp., Cynara cardunculus, Inula crithmoides, and Capparis orientalis. A species of Tulostoma (a gasteromycete fungus, not determined to species level) is also found in the area.A number of important fauna are present on the plateau, and these include: - the snail Lampedusa imitatrix ("gattoi" which is special to Filfla): this is an important endemic species listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive; it is an endangered species as it is confined to Filfla and Migra Ferha (Malta); the population of Filfla is distinguished from the Maltese door snails due to its distinct conchological characters, hence Lampedusa imitatrix gattoi; it is also protected through national law; - the snail Trochoidea spratti ("despotti" endemic to Filfla): this is an endemic snail that occurs as a distinct conchological form, despotti, which is endemic to Filfla; this snail species is protected through national law; - the beetle Akis subterranea: this is an Italo-Maltese endemic and is known from the island of Filfla apart from a few other localities; it has been given a near threatened status; - the beetle Cyclodinus debilis: this species is of biogeographical interest, possibly very rare and with a restricted distribution across the Maltese Islands, however data is deficient; - the cricket Mogoplistes squamiger: this is very rare, limited to coastal areas (restricted distribution across Maltese Islands); it has been recorded from Xemxija (Malta) and has been observed on Filfla.The 'calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation' are covered with a selection of species. These include the rare annual Senecio leucanthemifolius, which occurs mainly in the western tip of the plateau. Senecio leucanthemifolius is locally rare, with a restricted distribution across the Mediterranean and within the Maltese Islands themselves. It is a very variable species with the characteristic of producing distinct localised races the systematic value of which is uncertain. The Maltese populations still need to be studied. Another species of Senecio, Senecio bicolor is also present. This is known to be sub-endemic to the Maltese Islands. The screes ('western Mediterranean and thermophilous screes') of the islet of Filfla have proved to be ideal breeding sites for certain sea-bird species, in particular Hydrobates pelagicus. The seabirds Calonectris diomedea and Larus cachinnas (michahellis) also breed at this site. The Yelkouan shearwater, Puffinus yelkouan, possibly breeds on Filfla. - Hydrobates pelagicus: by far the largest colony is restricted to the islet of Filfla; this species is locally vulnerable and restricted in range; it is important to note that Filfla supports one of the largest known breeding colonies of the Storm Petrel in the Mediterranean (5000-8000 pairs) - Calonectris diomedea: Filfla serves as a good breeding station for this bird, however the breeding success of this species across the Maltese Islands seems to be decliningThe above two species are protected through national legislation. Internationally, they are protected through the SPABIM - Annex II, Bern - Appendix II, in Resolution No. 6 of 1998 of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention and under the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) - Annex I. - Larus cachinnas (michahellis): this is locally vulnerable, particularly as it only breeds in a few colonies at the southwestern coast of Malta and Gozo, and on Filfla; this is the main predator of Hydrobates pelagicus; several tens of pairs breed below the cliffs of the islet.In view of the above-mentioned bird species, Filfla has been classified as an 'Important Bird Area of EU importance' by BirdLife Malta and as an 'Important Bird Area' by BirdLife International - hence it is a Global Important Bird Area.Other important fauna on Filfla include: - Podarcis filfolensis filfolensis: only known locality, endemic to Filfla; protected nationally and internationally (Bern Appendix II); the populations of Podarcis filfolensis on the various Maltese Islands show differences between each other: Podarcis filfolensis filfolensis is the largest of the Podarcis filfolensis lizards; - the two gecko species found across the Maltese Islands, and which are both locally vulnerable, have both been reported from Filfla; these are Tarentola mauritanica and Hemidactylus turcicus turcicus, both of which are listed in Appendix III (protected fauna) of the Bern Convention (1979).Note on section: Ecological Information - Habitats Part of this islet supports a combination of two habitats: 1240 & 1420, and thus, the % cover was only entered once (next to 1420).

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both


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6.1 Body(ies) responsible for the site management:

Organisation:Environment and Resources Authority

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation



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