Spazji Miftuħa appeals govt to remove illegal structures at Aħrax and Miżieb

“The sites should be managed by Ambjent Malta”

Miguela Xuereb

The coalition of 60 entities, mainly environmental and cultural NGOs, known as Spazji Miftuħa, supported by over 16,200 individual signatures are insisting with Prime Minister Abela to place Miżieb and Aħrax under the management of Ambjent Malta and not the Federation of Hunters and Trappers FKNK.

The coalition is stating that in past years FKNK had taken control of these areas and that this resulted in people being obstructed from entering the woodlands and areas have become known as the mecca of illegalities not only with illegal hunting but also with illegal permanent structures.

On Thursday, the coalition asked for the Planning Authority and the Minister of Environment Aaron Farrugia to take action against these illegalities once and for all.

It explained that these two woodlands are five times the size of Buskett gardens and it is high time they are given back to the public through a proper management plan handled by Ambjent Malta with adequate resources to keep the place secure and open for everyone to enjoy.

“Our countryside is already taken over by hunters all over the island for 9 months of the year. It will be a big mistake for Prime Minister to disregard the general public and give this land to a few hundred hunters” – said the coalition.

It also added that many were not aware that in the 1970s many trees were planted in Miżieb by environmental NGOs and that the Miżieb afforestation project, situated between Mellieħa and St Paul’s Bay, started in the late 1950s, when the Israeli government donated approximately 10,000 trees, mostly Aleppo Pine, Olive and Juniper, to the Maltese people, then under Dom Mintoff’s Labour government.

Two sites were chosen in the north for these afforestation purposes – Miżieb and l-Aħrax, near Armier.

The coalition explained how dynamite was used to create cracks in the bedrock to allow the tree roots to gain purchase. More trees were planted in the Miżieb area in the early 1970s, and many NGOs including Men of the Trees, 4Ts, SSCN, today Nature Trust Malta and the Malta Ornithological Society, today BirdLife Malta, were also involved in these tree-planting projects.