Three Maltese environmental NGOs have been given a number of new powers to protect and conserve key areas, including Natura2000 sites, around the islands.
The sites in question and the NGOs that will be responsible for them are:
- Friends of the Earth Malta – A 14,400 square meter plot of land in Comino, known as Fuq il-Bir tat-Tiġieġ, as well as a building known as l-Forn l-Antik;
- Din l-Art Ħelwa – An 670 square meter plot of land at Ta’ Qali National Park as well as the Australian Bungalow which will be relocated from L-Għammieri to Ta’ Qali;
- Fondazzjoni Rurali Manikata – A 4,022 square meter site known as Razzett tal-Qasam as well as several other small buildings which form part of the same site.
The announcement was made today during the signing of agreements attended by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and representatives from the organisations.
“I look to environmental organisations as essential partners in the conservation and protection of our country’s environmental heritage. We are doing this with facts, not with words. Today is an important step in this direction,” Farrugia said.
Farrugia explained that the proposal was evaluated by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) as well as the Land Authority, to safeguard the environmental aspect as well as to ensure the proper use of each site, particularly as some of these sites are very important for local biodiversity, as well as from a global perspective.
His ministry said that some of the sites are scheduled and protected due to their ecological importance, which are also crucial to the wellbeing of the community.
The NGOs are expected to ensure that the buildings on the sites are restored and conserved properly and in a way that respects the surrounding environment, but also that the areas of land that will be passed on to the organisations will be managed in a way that:
- Respects the ecological value of each site;
- Makes an effort to improve the biodiversity of the area;
- Promotes environmental education in the area, including on the native species of each site;
- Promotes the areas for the use and enjoyment of the public in a sustainable way.
An action plan will now be drawn up for each agreement, in order to ultimately ensure the sustainable management of the Maltese environmental and cultural heritage.
Each action plan will provide a vision incorporating the restoration, use, and final product expected at each site by 2035.
“This collaboration is crucial for the well-being of the local environment. NGOs are the environmental driver and a crucial element in carrying out government’s environmental measures,” Farrugia said.
“The environment can only be managed sustainably if valuable work and collaborations continue to take place with different sectors of society to enable a collective effort to be made. In fact, the effort to improve the quality of the local environment also depends on the public, as such sites and structures should be enjoyed in a sustainable way—for the benefit of all,” he ended.
It was not revealed whether the NGOs would be paid for these guardianships or not.
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