Flowers to bring back bees to Gnejna valley in extensive restoration programme

In Wied il-Gnejna, invasive and non-native vegetation will be replaced with indigenous plants and works will stabilise valley banks and reduce flooding

The Ministry for the Environment has embarked on an extensive valley restoration programme aimed at restoring eco-systems and stopping soil erosion in five major valley systems in Malta.

One of the first targets for restoration is Wied il-Gnejna where invasive and non-native vegetation will be replaced with indigenous plants to re-create riparian habitats and works will be undertaken to stabilise valley banks and reduce the flooding in Triq il-Gnejna.

The growing of new plants will contribute to limit the re-introduction of invasive species and reduce sediment and soil loss, thus minimising future maintenance costs.

Among the species to be introduced are plant species, which will help to attract pollinating insects in the area for the benefit of agricultural areas in the valley.

The planting schemes will include Arbutus Unedo (Strawberry tree) which flowers in autumn and is very important for bees, Myrtus Communis (Rihan) which flowers in spring and early summer, Erica multiflora (the Mediterranean heath) which flowers in winter and the Vitex Agnus-Castus (the Chaste Tree) which is very important for bumble bees and other solitary bees which are becoming quite rare in Malta.

Enhanced water conservation will be achieved through the removal of sediment from behind the dam at Wied tal-Gnejna, allowing increased water retention and improved aquifer recharge capability.

Works will also involve the removal of sediment, which has accumulated in valleys. Silt is presently creating an obstacle for the flow of rainwater, which is leading to flooding of agricultural fields and roads. Also, dams found downstream shall be cleaned from silt and other material, which has been carried with the rainwater. The cleaning will help to enhance the water capacity of these dams leading to a better recharge of the underlying water table.

This project will contribute to the restoration of rural infrastructure such as dry-stone rubble walls and will include the re-construction of an arched masonry bridge.

The restoration programme is to be undertaken in Malta’s five main valley systems namely Wied Garnaw (Santa Lucija), Wied tal-Gnejna (Mgarr), Wied ir-Rum (Dingli), Wied il-Fiddien and Wied Ghomor (San Gwann/Swieqi), and particularly in valley stretches located in intensive agricultural areas.

The project is being undertaken by The Directorate for Parks, Afforestation and Countryside Restoration in close collaboration with the Environment and Resources Authority.

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