Birdlife Malta accuses FKNK of misleading the public

Nature reserves are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic

BirdLife Malta, Kristina Govorukha

It is very clear that the hunting lobby has found itself with its back to the wall and to react in some way to the campaign being led by Spazji Miftuħa, a coalition of more than 50 NGOs and entities, in response to the secret agreement which will restrict access the two woodland areas of Miżieb and l-Aħrax to FKNK, the same Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) has now resorted to a campaign of lies, said Birdlife Malta.

The NGO was reacting to the recently shot footage by an FKNK official in front of Simar and Għadira Nature Reserves claiming that these aren’t accessible to the public.

Birdlife Malta explained that whilst this in itself was deliberately done to mislead since at the moment our reserves are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic like all other public sites, what’s far worse is the fact that in the footage the cameraman specifically avoids clear signage at the entrances of both reserves which clearly announce that the reserves are temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

The footage also ignored another sign at both entrances showing the opening hours of the reserves to the public.

“Whilst it is obvious that – like all other protected nature reserves around the world – these natural sites are surrounded by fences for security reasons, one can also easily verify their opening hours on the respective websites and Facebook pages”- said Birdlife.

Both Simar and Għadira are open to the public, for free, between September and May during weekends and selected weekday afternoons.  

Salina Nature Reserve is open for visits on all days. During the remaining hours, Simar and Għadira host thousands of school children for field visits led by Birdlife Malta’s field teachers.  The NGO said that before the Coronavirus pandemic started, they had a fully-booked schedule till the end of the scholastic year.

BirdLife Malta also reminded that its other nature reserve, Foresta 2000, again to the contrary of what is being claimed by the hunting lobby, is open all year round, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

BirdLife Malta again explained that nature reserves are primarily meant to provide shelter and rest to migratory birds so first and foremost it is the birds which need to be protected and not human interest.

“During summer, when the reserves are closed, it is the time of the year when maintenance and habitat upgrade works are done to the reserve; as a result of such works at times the nature trail or the buildings are not in a position to accommodate visitors” – explained the NGO.

BirdLife Malta, Kristina Govorukha

Birdlife Malta continued to explain that the nature reserves of ecological importance such as bird sanctuaries need to have controlled access. Just as nobody should complain that our heritage sites such as the Neolithic temples have controlled access, the same goes for nature reserves.

The NGO stated that FKNK fails to understand this and they also fail to comprehend that there is a difference between NGOs that work for the common good and organisations like them that work only for their members’ interest.

“One cannot compare, either, bird sanctuaries which are at times kept closed to safeguard the flora and fauna, with the proposed plan to restrict access to Aħrax and Miżieb; which will be closed not to safeguard the area but to safeguard the interest of the few hundred hunters that would be allowed in purely to enjoy killing birds. This is not justified and unfair on society” concluded Birdlife Malta which has also expressed its wish for the situation to return to normality to again welcome the public to observe and experience the beauty of nature at the reserves.