NGOs write to Abela over Miżieb and l-Aħrax woodlands’ ‘privatisation’

Coalition of environmental and social NGOs say closing off woodlands to hunters will be damaging to society at large

2015: during the spring hunting referendum, the hunters’ lobby (left) addressed journalists there
2015: during the spring hunting referendum, the hunters’ lobby (left) addressed journalists there

A group of 20 NGOs active in environmental and social awareness have written to Prime Minister Robert Abela requesting a meeting with him and environment minister Aaron Farrugia to discuss a proposal to have hunters’ lobby FKNK manage the woodlands at il-Miżieb and l-Aħrax.

“In our view, Cabinet will be endorsing the privatisation of two very important public open spaces which are currently enjoyed by Maltese citizens. Should the agreement with the FKNK go ahead, this would mean that for nine out of twelve months, nobody other than a few FKNK licensees would be able to visit and enjoy these areas. FKNK have confirmed this themselves in the media,” spokesperson Wayne Flask said.

The statement is signed by, among others, Movement Graffitti, BirdLife, the Franciscan Friars, the Chamber of Architects, and Flimkien ghal-Ambjent Ahjar.

“We are deeply concerned at this, especially in light of the fact that these popular spots are two of only very few similar areas where the population can enjoy a breath of fresh air. We feel that the further restriction of access to open spaces to accommodate a minority lobby is an injustice will be damaging to society at large.”

The NGOs say they were shocked at the secretive way the proposal had been made in Cabinet without the minimum consideration for the public and its wellbeing. “That the public had to learn of this through a media leak confirms our worst fears – that this is a done deal which was meant to be announced and fast-tracked without any consultation whatsoever. This jars completely with the promise of lobbying transparency. FKNK themselves have also confirmed that they are in touch with Cabinet on the matter, however we wonder why no such luxury has been afforded to us.”

The letter was signed by the Archaeological Society of Malta, BICREF, Bicycle Advocacy Group, BirdLife Malta, Din L-Art Ħelwa, Extinction Rebellion Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Franciscan Friars (OFM) Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Għaqda Siġar Maltin, Isles of the Left, Kamra tal-Periti, Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU), Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, NASoM (Noise Abatement Society Malta), Outdoor Recreation and Camping Association Malta, Ramblers Association Malta, and The Grow 10 Trees Project.