Watch: FKNK getting Miżieb and Aħrax because they managed them well – Borg

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg insisted that the FKNK hunters’ federation were deservedly being formally handed over the management of the woodlands in Aħrax and Miżieb, stating that they “did a good job” managing them in the past decades.

Borg was questioned about the controversial handover of the two sites – which is set to be formalised on Sunday – in a visit to the Dar tal-Kleru, whose gardens are being regenerated in a project involving the Archdiocese of Malta and Infrastructure Malta.

He insisted that nothing would change, and public access would be guaranteed except during hunting season. Officially, a hunting season is in force most of the year, though it peaks during migration in April and September. A brief spring hunting season is called in April, a rabbit-hunting season lasts from June to December while the autumn hunting season lasts from September to the end of January.

When asked whether FKNK had any legally-binding claim on the land in question, Borg was evasive, but he nevertheless all but confirmed that it did not, citing only a 1986 letter authored by then-Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici. He also repeatedly highlighted that the agreement would formalise existing arrangements.

The minister was also asked to specify how the hunters would manage the site, and once more, insisted that the FKNK would continue doing what it did, including tending to trees and maintaining rubble walls.

“You cannot just plant a tree or claim to love trees on Facebook; you have to take care of them,” Borg said.

Borg made no reference to the various illegal hunting structures dotting the sites.

But he sought to justify the government’s decision by comparing it to sites managed by environmental NGOs. He also insisted that the government would soon announce positive news for such NGOs seeking to enlarge the size of their reserves.