BirdLife Malta insisted that their own conservatory activities in the Simar and Għadira nature reserves they manage are different to what the hunters will undertake under the secretive deal that handed over L-Aħrax and Miżieb.
Asked by Lovin Malta why hunting lobby FKNK shouldn’t take over the two swathes of Mellieħa land, BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said their work was for the common good and not for their own benefit.
“Għadira and Simar do not belong to BirdLife but to the public,” he said. “We do our work for two reasons. Firstly because the government has legal obligations to protect those areas and we’re doing it a favour. Secondly, we do it for the public and the 6,000 children that come to learn about the beauty of nature.”
“In Miżieb and Aħrax, which are at least ten times bigger, people are not to going be allowed in to enjoy nature. We are different because we don’t kill animals and we don’t take anything from nature.”
“There’s a big difference, [FKNK] are not an NGO that works for the common good like other NGOs who work for the environment and culture.”
BirdLife also said they and other NGOs under the Spazji Miftuħa coalition have filed legal action against the government over the handover, warning that the public will no longer have access to some of Malta’s last open green spaces.
Last week, a secretive deal between lobby group FKNK and several ministers was signed, handing over Miżieb and Aħrax to hunters.
The contract gives the FKNK rights over the management and upkeep of the two woodlands and forbids public access during specific times of day during the spring and autumn hunting seasons. They will also be obliged to set up picnic areas for the general public.
The group has long disputed claim over the land after an alleged letter in 1986 from former Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici but activists insist they have no rights over the land.
Environmental groups, as well as Mellieħa councillors, rubbished the steamrolled deal, warning that the details of the agreements were not made public for scrutiny.
What do you think hunters should take control over Miżieb and Aħrax?