The Archdiocese of Malta’s Commission for Justice and Peace has given its backing to the group of NGOs opposing the government’s plans to transfer L-Aħrax and Miżieb woodlands to the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK).
In its statement, marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’, the commission said that it was endorsing the “Spazji Miftuħa” initiative the NGOs had launched in response to the government’s plans.
The encyclical, it said, highlighted the importance of open spaces, especially in the context of densely populated areas. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the related measures brought to the fore the lack of such spaces in the Maltese islands.
Consequently, the Justice and Peace Commission insisted that natural areas should be protected from excessive development, safeguarded for present and future generation and be accessible to everyone.
“As highlighted by the Pope’s encyclical, such protection is necessary not only for environmental reasons but as a matter of social justice, where something which is truly essential for the wellbeing of all is protected and left to be enjoyed freely by everyone,” it said.
Though it recognised that access to public spaces may need to be restricted at times to protect and preserve ecosystems, “a clear distinction must be made between any restrictions on the access of such spaces for the common good and those restricted for the good of a select few.”