1,000 trees planted at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, various interventions ongoing

An afforestation exercise is being carried out at L-Inħawi tar-Ramla tat-Torri u tal-Irdum tal-Madonna.

This was announced by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia, who explained that the area is in the vicinity of the Tal-Aħrax Camping sites, and that it will provide a better environment for the community, for campers, picnickers, visitors and the general public.

This initiative also complements the Planning Authority’s Discussion Paper on Camping, Caravanning and Picnicking Sites on the Maltese Islands.

“The restoration of degraded land, as well as limiting illegal access of vehicles in natural and protected areas through afforestation and habitat restoration techniques is fundamental to support people’s rights to enjoy Malta’s rural areas”, said the minister.

The area is a Natura 2000 site protected under the Special Protection Area and the Site of Community Importance.

“The planting of 1,000 indigenous trees is another part of the many ongoing works and initiatives that the ministry, together with Ambjent Malta and other stakeholders, are implementing in order to continue improving the natural environment for our communities. And we need to do more, because that is what the people deserve. We have heard the call for more and better managed green spaces and recreational areas, and we are acting on it”, continued the minister.

Minister Farrugia explained that it is necessary to ensure that communities have access to recreational areas while also respecting the environment. He said that places such as L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa is an ideal spot for various recreational activities, and that works are ongoing with the Federation of Hunting and Conservation Malta (FKNK) in order to create even more picnic areas for families.

Interventions are being carried out in an area of 5,000 metres squared and include the restoration of rubble walls, the removal of fly-tipped material including waste and the illegal stone BBQs, and the  removal of invasive and non-native Acacia trees.

In addition, approximately 1,000 indigenous trees were planted. The main objective of this exercise is to restore degraded land and reduce soil erosion resulting from soil compaction due to trampling and vehicular access.

The minister thanked Ambjent Malta for the initiative and members of FKNK including its Mellieħa sub-committee (GHKNK) for their assistance in these ongoing works, as well as for the proper management of various sites around L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa.

Minister Farrugia reiterated that around 21,808 trees were planted by Ambjent Malta in 2020, an increase over the previous years. He said that government is shifting towards greener and more sustainable planning with a focus on both rural and urban areas, as the climate change challenge and the need to improve quality of life and protect our natural heritage is more urgent than ever.

FKNK spokesperson Lucas Micallef explained that trees are an important part of strengthening biodiversity in natural habitats, stating that, “Works are ongoing in collaboration with and with the assistance of Ambjent Malta, to regenerate habitats with special importance such as this site at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa”.