[WATCH] Management of Salini Natura 2000 site passed on to BirdLife Malta

Heads of agreement signed with government hands over the management of Salini salt pans to BirdLife Malta

BirdLife Malta will be managing the Salini salt pans (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)
BirdLife Malta will be managing the Salini salt pans (Photo: Ivan Consiglio)
Birdlife Malta to manage Salini saltpans • Video Ivan Consiglio

BirdLife Malta will be managing the Natura 2000 site of is-Salini in Burmarrad, following an agreement reached between the government and the e-NGO.

The handover follows a €7 million restoration carried out on the Salini salt pans, which was co-financed by the European Union.

Transport Minister Joe Mizzi and Environment Minister José Herrera presided over the signing of the agreement.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana welcomed the signing of the agreement, describing the handover as a “historic moment” for the NGO. Sultana went on to urge the government to safeguard the environment in all its aspects.

“Importance to natural environment should go beyond nature reserves and must be expanded across the country, sustaining a culture of respect towards the natural habitat and its species,” he said.

This is the fourth nature reserve to be managed by BirdLife, which will be open to the public and students.

BLM already manages Ghadira Nature Reserve in Mellieha, Simar Nature Reserve at St Paul’s Bay and Foresta 2000.

The agreement is only the first step towards the transfer of the salt pans site with all parties now engaged to establish the general framework on the basis of which the agreement to be finalised.

The Salina Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Malta with a history linked to salt production.

“One is hopeful that the public will now be able to enjoy new bird species that are attracted to the area and maybe even breed there,” BirdLife said.

The site’s potential to attract birds has been proven repeatedly by birds alighting in the salt pans to rest during migration, among which the most spectacular flamingo – a bird synonymous with salt pans, especially in the Mediterranean.

The Salini site is a protected area forming part of the Natura 2000 network and was also declared a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Endemic flora and fauna can be found in the area.

The Salini Salt Pans were constructed by the Knights of St John in the 16th century. The complex also includes three timber huts which were reconstructed on the same style of the original ones built by the British in the eighteenth century for salt production.

One of these is the Visitors’ Centre. It also includes the Ximenes Redoubt which was originally constructed in 1715/16 during the reign of Grand Master Perellos as part of the Knights’ strategy of defending the Maltese islands against invasion with a network of coastal fortifications.

During the course of the 18th century the redoubt was partially converted into a salt magazine. Grand Master Ximenes added a second warehouse to the complex to increase its storage capacity.

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