Birdlife M ● Restored site to be opened to the public
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