Much has been said this week of Miżieb and Aħrax, two of Malta’s largest woodlands, and a new agreement which is set to hand their management to hunters.
Whether you think this marks the end of citizens’ enjoyment of such large public space or a classic case of blowing things out of proportion, one thing’s for sure; these woodlands are huge. At least, as far as the rest of the islands are concerned.
Taking to Facebook to try and explain just how big we’re talking about, NGO Spazji Miftuħa has put things into context by comparing the two behemoth spaces to two other public spaces usually seen as some of Malta’s largest: Buskett and Fosos.
Malta’s most popular woodland and the site of so many picnics and home videos across the decades, Buskett pales in comparison to Aħrax and Miżieb, which are some five times larger than the beloved countryside haunt between Siġġiewi and Rabat.
Aħrax alone is more than twice the size of Buskett, but things really shift into overdrive with Miżieb.
While Buskett is calculated to be some 282,000 metres squared, Miżieb’s area covers over 900,000.
In fact, when combined, Miżieb and Aħrax make up some 0.5% of the Maltese islands’ total area of 316 kilometres squared.
And if you thought Floriana’s Fosos could hold a lot of people, wait until you compare it to the two disputed woodlands.
The Granaries just outside Malta’s capital city have always been one of the biggest metrics of crowd sizes, with everything from political mass meetings to a papal visit attracting tens of thousands of people. One of the highest recorded crowd capacities on the Fosos was back in 2016, when the 10th edition of the Isle of MTV concert attracted over 50,000 people.
Now get this; together, Miżieb and Aħrax make up an area 150 times larger than the Floriana Granaries.
This means that, in theory, not only can every single person fit in the two woodlands, but a crowd as dense as Isle of MTV’s can fit seven and a half million people in Miżieb and Aħrax combined. Or, you know, nearly the whole population of London.
Of course, these are mostly estimates at best, and the full extent of the affected woodlands – if at all – is still unsure.
But this lies at the crux of the current controversy, with details on the agreement extremely scarce and various NGOs protesting the apparent secrecy with which the formal handover is set to be carried out.
What do you make of these statistics?