[WATCH] Tal-Wej, Ħas-Saptan and Wied il-Mielaħ get special environment protection

Three new sites in Malta and Gozo have been added to the Natura 2000 network as part of government’s drive to extend the land area covered by protected status

Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and ERA CEO Michelle Piccinino announced that three more sites will be added to the Natura 2000 network
Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and ERA CEO Michelle Piccinino announced that three more sites will be added to the Natura 2000 network
The Tal-Wej area in the limits of Mosta has been designated as a Natura 2000 site

Two sites in Malta where ecologically important freshwater rock pools form have been designated Natura 2000 sites as part of government’s drive to extend the green network. 

The Tal-Wej area in the limits of Mosta and Ħas-Saptan in the outskirts of Birżebbuġa have been designated as special areas of conservation because of the temporary formation of rock pools, which can support populations of the very rare tadpole shrimp.

Another site afforded top protection is Wied il-Mielaħ in the limits of Għarb, which is known for its geology and the window that gained popularity after the Dwejra one was destroyed.

Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia made the announcement on Friday morning to mark World Environment Day.

The proposed sites will be added to 34 terrestrial Natura 2000 sites, which cover 13% of the total land area.

Farrugia reiterated his commitment to protect key habitats and species to ensure their conservation for future generations. 

"Quality of life means that all citizens should be granted access to more recreational spaces, as well as heritage sites, which will allow them to fully appreciate and enjoy what their native country has to offer. This principle also extends to the conservation and preservation of these sites, which will ensure they remain accessible to future generations," Farrugia said.

Farrugia said that l-Għadira s-Safra, which is an existing Natura 2000 site, has been extended both landward and seaward to cover further areas of ecological importance.

The Environment and Resources Authority has also issued a conservation order and protection notice for geological features in the area of Ta’ Lanzun at Tal-Mensija, within the limits of San Ġwann.

This area is now listed as a special area of geological importance and addresses a subsidence structure, known as a doline, similar to the more famous Il-Maqluba in Qrendi.

The new Natura 2000 sites

Tal-Wej and Ħas-Saptan

Tal-Wej and the Ħas-Saptan were designated due to the presence of temporary freshwater rock pools, which are rare in the Maltese Islands.

These habitats support unique communities, with species like the Maltese Horned Pondweed, unique to Malta; and Maltese Waterwort, a species confined to the Maltese Islands and the nearby Pelagian Islands in the world. These pools also support populations of the otherwise very rare Tadpole Shrimp.

Wied il-Mielaħ

Wied il-Mielaħ, known mostly for its geology and It-Tieqa, was designated due to the presence of typical coastal plant communities and its cliffs, which also house important breeding and nesting area of seabirds, particularly the Yelkouan and Scopoli’s Shearwaters. The site is also designated as a SPA.

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