A Roman-era olive grove in Bidnija is to be protected by Ambjent Malta and Heritage Malta.
The olive grove contains trees as old as 1,800 years.
The two entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding its upkeep. Measures include that the pruning of trees would be conducted by by qualified gardeners within the afforestation section of Ambjent Malta, given that these trees are protected through the provisions of the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations (2011). An ERA permit would be required for such pruning to take place.
Another important measure is the testing for the Xyella fastidiosa, a disease which is a major threat to olive trees. This disease is not as of yet present in Malta and all olive trees in this grove have tested negative, however, thousands of olive trees in southern Italy have been affected by this emerging disease.
Additional measures include the genetic testing and polyphenol content in collaboration with University of Malta, propagation of ‘Bidni’ olives and planting, installation of CCTV surveillance cameras, fire prevention measures, and the restoration of rubble walls.
The area where the grove is located is also of archaeological importance given the remains of a rustic villa from the Roman period where oil used to be worked. In fact, earlier this year another agreement was signed, between Heritage Malta, the University of Malta and the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, in order for the three entities to work together for the conservation of the cultural heritage of this site.