Birdlife M ● Re­stored site to be opened to the pub­lic

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

An agree­ment signed yes­ter­day be­tween the gov­ern­ment and BirdLife Malta dur­ing a cer­e­mony at Salini will see the Salini Re­serve un­der the man­age­ment of BirdLife Malta, which will now be re­spon­si­ble for the site.

At present, BirdLife Malta al­ready man­ages a num­ber of nat­u­ral sites that were en­trusted to it by the gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the NGO’s work to­wards habi­tat restora­tion for bio­di­ver­sity in these ar­eas. These are Għadira Na­ture Re­serve in Mel­lieħa, Si­mar Na­ture Re­serve at St Paul’s Bay and Foresta 2000 which is a large ex­panse of af­foresta­tion in the north of Malta. Now, fol­low­ing the suc­cess at these sites, BirdLife Malta is also be­ing trusted with the man­age­ment of the Salina Salt Pans site.

This is only the first step to­wards the trans­fer of the site with all par­ties now en­gaged in es­tab­lish­ing the gen­eral frame­work on the ba­sis of which the Man­age­ment Agree­ment is to be fi­nalised.

The Salina Re­serve will not only be BirdLife Malta’s largest land man­age­ment project but also the largest na­ture re­serve with a his­tory linked to salt pro­duc­tion. One is hope­ful that the pub­lic will now be able to en­joy new bird species that are at­tracted to the area and maybe even breed there.

The site’s po­ten­tial to at­tract birds has been proved re­peat­edly by birds alight­ing in the salt pans to rest dur­ing mi­gra­tion, among which the most spec­tac­u­lar is the flamingo – a bird syn­ony­mous with salt pans, es­pe­cially in the Mediter­ranean.

The Salini site in Bur­mar­rad is a pro­tected area form­ing part of the Natura 2000 net­work and was also de­clared a Spe­cial Area of Con­ser­va­tion (SAC). En­demic flora and fauna can be found in the area. The Salini Salt Pans were con­structed by the Knights of St John in the 16th cen­tury and the site was re­ha­bil­i­tated with the help of Euro­pean Union funds.

The complex also in­cludes three tim­ber huts which were re­con­structed in the same style of the orig­i­nal ones built by the Bri­tish in the 18th cen­tury for salt pro­duc­tion. One of these is the Vis­i­tors’ Cen­tre.

It also in­cludes the Ximenes Re­doubt was built in 1715/16 dur­ing the reign of Grand Master Perel­los as part of the Knights’ strat­egy of de­fend­ing the Mal­tese Is­lands against in­va­sion with a net­work of coastal for­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Dur­ing the course of the 18th cen­tury, the re­doubt was par­tially con­verted into a salt mag­a­zine. Grand Master Ximenes added a sec­ond ware­house to the complex to increase its stor­age ca­pac­ity.

In his speech for the oc­ca­sion, Min­is­ter for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, the En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change José Her­rera stated that the gov­ern­ment is send­ing out an­other pos­i­tive sig­nal that it be­lieves in Malta’s en­vi­ron­men­tal NGOs. Dr Her­rera said that his­tory is be­ing writ­ten as it was writ­ten when 30 years ago the man­age­ment of Għadira and Si­mar na­ture re­serves was en­trusted to the same

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