[WATCH] BirdLife CEO slams minister Ian Borg in powerful vid over Mizieb handover to hunters

Lands minster Ian Borg is rewarding lawbreakers with land for his political gain, BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said

Ian Borg (left) with Prime Minister Robert Abela
Ian Borg (left) with Prime Minister Robert Abela

The chief executive of BirdLife Malta has accused transport and lands minister Ian Borg of rewarding lawbreaking hunters with the Mizieb and l-Ahrax woodlands, in a gross act of political opportunism.

Borg has signed off on a Lands Authority transfer of Malta’s untouched woodland landscapes to the hunting community of the FKNK, to formalise a long-contested claim on the grounds.

Despite never having held any title at law, the Labour government has now proceeded to hand over control of the lands to the FKNK.

But BirdLife’s Mark Sultana said Borg was rewarding a community of lawbreakers who had scant regard for environmental rules, with land.

“Borg is saying that in this country, if there is political gain, the government is ready to reward people with land even if you disrespect society, if you break the law… Borg should have told us he has ulterior, political motives to give out this land.

“What I know is that we have a government that is insensitive against the natural environment. If we see the way they are changing hunting and trapping laws, it is clear they are in bed with the FKNK.”

Sultana said it is an insult to hand over the woodlands to FKNK, which only works in the interest of its members, and cannot be compared to other environmentalist NGOs.

BirdLife manages the Ghadira, Salina, Foresta 2000 and Simar nature reserves, partly through government funds to ensure their proper management. The combined size of these four reserves is approximately half the size of the Mizieb woodland, Sultana said.

“Consider that the FKNK is now getting the Mizieb and l-Ahrax areas. You cannot compare BirdLife, which works towards the common good, with FKNK, which only acts in its hunter-members’ interests.”

Sultana said the FKNK had no control on the illegalities committed by hunters in the Mizieb and l-Ahrax hunting grounds, which have been widely documented by BirdLife and CABS. “An FKNK official has been filmed shooting at a protected bird… a relative of an FKNK official was filmed handing over his rifle to his daughter, and has not yet even been prosecuted.”

Sultana said transport and lands minister Ian Borg has ignored the construction of illegal structures inside these woodlands by FKNK members, and no action was taken by the Planning Authority despite reports.

“Recently enforcement was taken against the FKNK on illegal signage, but the signs are still there: because that’s what the FKNK does, it does not care about the law.”

Sultana said these lands were illegally taken over by the FKNK, and courts have already declared they had no title to the lands.

“People have to stand up and tell the government that this country is not run by hunters or the construction industry, but that there are also people who want a clean environment… this prime minister, his young age notwithstanding, will be remembered as the least prime minister committed to the safeguarding of the environment.”

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