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pr201955en

PR201955en

10/10/2020

PRESS RELEASE BY THE GOVERNMENT OF MALTA

The Government of Malta wishes to put the record straight on the agreement signed with the FKNK after inaccuracies in media coverage:

  • The agreement signed yesterday was published in full, so suggestions of secrecy are totally untrue;
  • 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 mantaing kilometres of rubble wall. The result of such care can be seen in both areas where there are many endemic trees and flora and fauna that can be enjoyed by all those who visit or pass by; 
  • The agreement signed yesterday formalised and regularised what has been in pratice for deacdes;
  • The general public will have free access to these 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;
  • This agreement is no different to other agreements with other NGOs who administer public zones. Just a few months back, the Ministries for Infrastructure and the Environment, on behalf of the Government, signed an agreement with Birdlife Malta to administer the Salini public zone. Birdlife is doing a good job in this zone;
  • One stark difference between the Miżieb/Aħrax agreement and that of Salini is that Birdlife receive financial assistance every year to administer and safeguard the Salini reserve and a number of government employees help with the management. In contrast, the Miżieb/Aħrax reserves will be administered solely by FKNK, who will shoulder all management expenses. These include the safeguarding of the natural habitat, taking good care of trees, maintenance of rubble walls, etc. The Government will not be providing any financial aid;
  • This Government will see that natural zones in Malta and Gozo are administered by NGOs. These NGOs have the experience, know-how and dedication to ensure they are kept at their best;
  • Thanks to the agreement between ERA and FKNK, the upkeep of the natural habitat is guaranteed. A number of obligations for ERA have been put in place in this agreement and will be enforced by the Directorate of the said authority. The Government also pushed for a further agreement that guarantees the adequate administration of the sites, the implementation of a number of environment requirements, ongoing monitoring and enforcement, educational activities and the participation of interested stakeholders.