Three new Natura 2000 sites proposed

"Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia announces new protected areas

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Three new sites in Malta are set to form part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia announced on the occasion of World Environment Day.

The three proposed sites are Tal-Wej in the limits of Mosta, Ħas-Saptan in the limits of Birżebbuġa, and Wied il-Mielaħ in the limits of Għarb. All three have been designated as Special Areas of Conservation, while Wied il-Mielaħ has also been declared a Special Protection Area.

Tal-Wej and Ħas-Saptan have both been proposed as new Natura 2000 sites due to the presence of temporary freshwater rock pools which support a unique ecosystem. They feature species like the Maltese Horned Pondweed, which is unique to Malta, and the Maltese Waterwort, which can only be found in the Maltese Islands and the nearby Pelagian Islands.

Wied il-Mielaħ, meanwhile, was designated due to the presence of coastal plant communities and for its cliffs, which house important breeding and nesting areas of seabirds, particularly Yelkouan and Scopoli’s Shearwaters.

13% of Maltese land within Natura 2000 network

Presently, 34 land areas in the Maltese islands, covering 13% of the country’s total land area, form part of the Natura 2000 network.

Farrugia also announced that one of these sites, the l-Għadira s-Safra coastal wetland near the Għallis Tower, has been extended to cover further elements of ecological importance. The extension was, in part, made possible by the reconstruction and slight realignment of the Coast Road, though the rocky shoal known as l-Iskoll tal-Għallis, which lies offshore, has also been included.

The Environment and Resources Authority also issued a Conservation Order and Protection Notice to geological features in the area of Ta’ Lanzun at Tal-Mensija, within the limits of San Ġwann. The area has been listed as a Special Area of Geological Importance due to the presence of a doline, a subsistence structure similar to the more famous il-Maqluba in Qrendi.