A controversial deal to hand over Miżieb and Aħrax to the FKNK has only formalised and regularised what has been in practice for decades, the Maltese government has claimed.
In a press release issued earlier today, the Maltese government wanted to “put the record straight” following what it believes to be inaccuracies in media coverage.
“The Aħrax and Miżieb reserves have been administered by the FKNK, under different administrations, for the past 34 years. The federation, with the help of its members and volunteers, had always taken great care of the area, by cultivating trees, and maintaining kilometres of rubble wall,” it said.
The FKNK has administered Miżieb and Aħrax on a voluntary basis since 1986.
Amongst its many points, the government claims that the general public will have free access to the woodlands reserves all year round, “the same access they have had for the past 34 years”.
“This agreement ensures that the public road and passages will remain open at all times. Picnic and camping zones will remain as now and new camping sites will be added (site plans are being published). All of this is at the same time as new obligations are imposed on the FKNK to ensure that the environment is safeguarded,” it said.
While the general public will have year-round access to Miżieb and Aħrax, that access will be limited during hunting season as expressed by point 5.11 of the deal.
Reference was also made to the agreements signed by other NGOs who administer public zones, including Salini, which was handed over to BirdLife a few months ago.
“One stark difference between the Miżieb/Aħrax agreement and that of Salini is that Birdlife receives financial assistance every year to administer and safeguard the Salini reserve and a number of government employees help with the management,” it said.
“In contrast, the Miżieb/Aħrax reserves will be administered solely by FKNK, who will shoulder all management expenses.”
The government also committed to making sure that FKNK safeguards the woodland areas by imposing a number of obligations that will be enforced by the ERA.
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