Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, also referred to as Riviera Martinique, has obtained the prestigious international award of excellence from the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) of Denmark.
The bay has been managed as a site of ecological importance since 1997 by the Gaia Foundation following a coastal management contract with the then Planning Authority and the Environment Ministry in 1996.
The site was subsequently added to the European Union's Natura 2000 list as part of the North West Coastal Cliffs.
President and Founder Gaia Foundation Rudolf Ragonesi, said that the award, which was applied for by Gaia last year, comes in light of improvements to the management of the site over the years, based upon a constantly developing management plan.
“The site boasts an exceptionally beautiful landscape that hosts interesting geological and ecological features, most notably the Clay Slopes, the salt steppe communities and the striking Qarraba Peninsula,” Ragonesi said.
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Ghajn Tuffieha management project and as part of the awareness raising activities for the site, Ragonesi added that the Ghajn Mixkuka Tower, which has been restored by Gaia in three phases over the years, will be open daily for visits by the public in the summer months, for an hour at lunch time and an hour in the early evening.
Although restored, work continues in the tower.
Any entity interested in sponsoring such work may contact the Foundation. Details of Gaia's ongoing work can be obtained from its website at www.projectgaia.org and from its Facebook page.
Gaia's approach to coastal management has been a holistic one, according to Ragonesi, taking into account not only the ecological features but also aspects related to beach safety, sustainable agriculture, educational awareness, running a visitor centre, the development of an indigenous tree nursery, and the restoration and management of historical features on site.
“The Blue Flag principles take a similar approach, covering environmental management, cleanliness, raising awareness, safety and public amenities. Gaia therefore saw it as a natural step to work towards obtaining this beach of excellence award, to boost Malta’s tourism, which comes at a time when the Gaia Foundation is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its first coastal management project at Ghajn Tuffieha,” Ragonesi added.
A special drive will be held this year to encourage the public to dispose of any cigarette butts in ashtrays placed on the beach or in their own used water bottles and cans, so as to allow the beach to retain the stringent standards of cleanliness set by FEE.
Following a successful joint venture in 2011, Gaia will once again be joining forces with Sharklab in 2012 to carry out marine surveying and patrolling work in the area, as well as to provide a number of beach activities and marine tours open to the public to raise the awareness of the marine environment.