No title on Miżieb, l-Aħrax woodlands for hunters, ERA confirms

Second confirmation from ERA, after Lands Authority, confirms that woodlands have never been passed into the hands of Maltese hunting lobby FKNK

The Environment and Resources Authority issued a second confirmation that no legal title to the woodlands of Miżieb and L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa is held by the Maltese hunting lobby FKNK. 

In a Freedom of Information request by independent candidate Arnold Cassola, the ERA declared that “there are no agreements entered into between ERA and FKNK”. 

The confirmation runs akin to that of the Lands Authority which has also said that the Federazzjoni Kaċċaturi Nassaba Konservazzjonisti (FKNK) has no title to Miżieb and l-Aħrax tal-Mellieha. 

“These official answers of the authorities reaffirm that the said areas are public lands which are to be enjoyed by all Maltese and Gozitans,” Cassola said. 

In a previous answer to a Freedom of Information request, the Lands Authority said that there was to date “no agreement/concession/lease/emphyteusis/title of ownership/encroachment/possession/mere tolerance management and/or services and/or consultancy agreement has been entered into between the GPD and/or the Lands Authority and the FKNK".” 

READ MORE: Cabinet asked to consider turning over Miżieb and l-Aħrax to hunters 

Cassola said the proposal by “a certain minister to hand over such lands for management by FKNK” served as a confirmation that the public’s right to open spaces was not important to the government and that “only bullies rule.” 

In April, MaltaToday revealed that Prime Minister Robert Abela had resurrected a proposal to hand over l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, and Miżieb to the FKNK under a formal management agreement. The proposal was brought up during a Cabinet meeting and met no resistance. 

There is a long-standing dispute between hunters and environmentalists over whether the Miżieb woodland is a legal hunting reserve. In 2017, Magistrate Charmaine Galea today acquitted a BirdLife Malta volunteer, Nimrod Mifsud, of criminal charges of trespassing in Miżieb, brought by the police in 2014 following a report by the hunting lobby FKNK against Mifsud and the BBC naturalist Chris Packham, whom he accompanied to Mizieb for part of his documentary series on spring hunting in Malta. 

The FKNK claims Mizieb is a legal hunting reserve, by virtue of an agreement signed by former Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, which placed the woodland under the “administration” of the FKNK.