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San Anard, San Niklaw & Bidni Rural Landscape Area Proposed Agricultural-Ecology Landscape Area for the Southeast of Malta


San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni Rural Landscape Area Il-Pajsaġġ Rurali ta’ l-inħawi ta’ San Anard, San Niklaw u l-Bidni


A technical report on a proposed agriculture-ecology landscape area in the Southeast of Malta between Marsascala, Xgħajra and Żabbar.


Consultation Document for the benefit of the Public and Government

NIFS

National Independent Forum for Sustainability

June 2015


Table of  Contents   Document History ................................................................................................................ .17   Contributors ....................................................................................................................... .18   Executive Summary ............................................................................................................. .19   Section 1 : Principles .......................................................................................................... .20   Section 2 : Policy Framework ............................................................................................. 24   Constitution of Malta .......................................................................................................... 26   Existing Planning Policy ..................................................................................................... 26   SMIA 13 National Park ...................................................................................................... 26   SMCO 03: Protection of Areas of Ecological Importance (AEIs) & Sites of Scientific Importance (SSIs) .............................................................................................................. 27   SMCO 06: Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLVs) ........................................................ 27   Contiguous Protection Areas ............................................................................................. 28   Visual Integrity ..................................................................................................................... 28   South Malta Local Plan ....................................................................................................... 28   Some Background ............................................................................................................. 29   Overall General Strategy ................................................................................................... 30   Settlements Policies .......................................................................................................... 30   Strategic Background:.................................................................................................... 30   Strategy.......................................................................................................................... 32   Agriculture .......................................................................................................................... 32   Strategy:......................................................................................................................... 32   Social and Community Facilities ........................................................................................ 33   Strategy:......................................................................................................................... 34   Urban and Rural Conservation .......................................................................................... 34   Background ........................................................................................................................ 35  


Section 3 : In Defence of Open Spaces and Social Justice ............................................. 38 Social equality .................................................................................................................... 40   The agricultural industry .................................................................................................... 42   Inter-cultural Centre ........................................................................................................... 43   The RIWAQ Project – job creation through conservation .................................................. 43   Section 4 : Health Impacts of Open Spaces and Urbanisation ....................................... 46   Definition of Health ............................................................................................................ 48   Definition of Environmental Health .................................................................................... 48   Health Concerns in South-East Malta ................................................................................ 48   Obesity, Eating Habits, Lack of Exercise ....................................................................... 48   Emissions from fossil fuels............................................................................................. 49   The Respiratory Health of citizens in South-East Malta................................................. 50   The Natural Environment ................................................................................................... 50   Impact on human health ................................................................................................ 50   Levels of engagement with nature ................................................................................. 50   The Concept of “Green Exercise” .................................................................................. 51   Urbanisation ................................................................................................................... 51   Land use ............................................................................................................................ 51   Demographic changes ................................................................................................... 51   Section 5: Tourism and the authentic experience ............................................................ 56   What is tourism? ................................................................................................................ 58   The impact of tourism on Malta ......................................................................................... 58   What are the main motivations for visiting Malta? ............................................................. 58   What does the tourist coming to Malta look for once here? ............................................... 59   Section 6 : Existing Opportunities ..................................................................................... 62   Agriculture and Farmland Area .......................................................................................... 64   Coastal Towers and Entrenchment Lines .......................................................................... 65   Coast Artillery Forts ........................................................................................................... 65  


Anti-Aircraft Defences ........................................................................................................ 65 Żonqor Point Swimming Pool ............................................................................................ 65   Wartime Beach Defences and Reserve Lines ................................................................... 65   Id-Dar tal-Barunessa (Il-Kunvent ta’ San Leonardu) .......................................................... 66   Site of the San Leonardo P. F. Station .............................................................................. 67   Wayside Shrine of 3 Crosses (Triq il-Bidni, Marsaskala) ................................................... 67   Kappella tal-Madonna tad-Dawl (Triq il-Bidni, Marsaskala) ............................................... 68   Kappella ta’ Sant’Antnin ta’ Padova (Triq il-Wied, Marsaskala) – Under Marsaskala Parish ........................................................................................................................................... 68   Kappella ta’ San Nikola (Marsaskala) – Under Żabbar Parish .......................................... 68   Possible Roman Feature – Cistern? .................................................................................. 69   Dolmen and megalithic remains at Xgħara tal-Bidni, Marsaskala ..................................... 69   Circular field called iċ-Ċirku, Triq il-Bidni, Zabbar . ............................................................. 69   The Maritime Fringe between Żonqor Point and Xgħajra .. ................................................ 70   Area from Swali Caves to reef ........................................................................................... 70   Salt Pans ........................................................................................................................... 70   Sustainable restoration ....................................................................................................... 70   Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 70   Sustainable design and construction principals ................................................................. 71   Section 7 : The Flora and Vegetation of the Maritime Fringe between Żonqor Point and Xgħajra . .................................................................................................................................72   Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 74   Species of high conservation value ................................................................................... 74   Observations ...................................................................................................................... 75   List of species encountered during two site visits held during April 2015 .......................... 75   Species which are exclusively or preferentially coastal ................................................. 75   Species which grow commonly in coastal habitats but also inland ................................ 75   Weedy species tending to grow mainly or exclusively on disturbed ground .................. 77   Section 8 : Landscapes becoming ever more vital: Farmers creating change .......... . 84  


Polyface Inc - Joel Salatin – USA .................................................................................... 87 New Forest Farm - Mark Shephard, USA ........................................................................ 87   Agroforestry Research Trust - Martin Crawford, UK ........................................................ 87   Eemlandhoeve – Jan Huijgen, the Netherlands .............................................................. 87   Vehicles for transition ...................................................................................................... 87   1. Foodforest ................................................................................................................ 88 2. Fodder-trees ............................................................................................................ 88 3. Wild-food-plants ....................................................................................................... 88 4 Optimized impacts in nature-resorts ......................................................................... 89   5 Eco-lodges ................................................................................................................ 89   Section 9 : Sustainable Ecosystem Approach to Coastal and Marine Management .. 90   Reefs in the area ............................................................................................................. 92   Reducing Threats to Marine Ecosystems ........................................................................ 93   Sustainable shore and sea uses at Xgħajra and Marsaskala Coastline . .........................94   Integrated Coastal Zone Management ............................................................................. 96   The Barcelona Convention: the Integrated Coastal Zone Protocol of 2008 .................... 96   General Principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management - Article 6 ...................... 96   General Principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management - Article 8 ...................... 96   Why is a setback zone of 100 metres important? ............................................................96   The Structure Plan ........................................................................................................... 97   Section 10 : Desirable Uses - Concepts .......................................................................... 98   Agritourism ....................................................................................................................... 100   Marine Reserve ............................................................................................................... 100   The Swali Caves .............................................................................................................. 100   Community Archaeology Projects .................................................................................... 100   Military and historical re-enactments ............................................................................... 101   Fishing Museum .............................................................................................................. 101   Salt industry ..................................................................................................................... 102   Conferencing Potential .................................................................................................... 102  


Premises of Co-operatives .............................................................................................. 103 An Intercultural Centre ..................................................................................................... 103   Niche Culinary Restaurant ............................................................................................... 103   Religious Tourism ............................................................................................................ 104   Organ and Choir concerts ................................................................................................ 104   Sports and exercise area ................................................................................................. 104   Boutique Hotel ................................................................................................................. 104   Buffer zone ...................................................................................................................... 104   Accessibility ..................................................................................................................... 104   Section 11 :Education for Sustainable Development in the Rural Landscape Area ... 108   Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 110   The Four Pillars of Sustainable Development ................................................................. 110   EE/ESD Guiding Values for the Area .............................................................................. 110   Section 12: Financial Options .......................................................................................... 112   Malta’s EU Programming Period 2014 – 2020 ................................................................ 114   Priority Axis 5: Protecting our environment - investing in natural and cultural assets ..... 114   Priority Axis 6: Sustainable Urban Development ............................................................. 114   Funding the proposal ....................................................................................................... 115   Project management set-up ............................................................................................. 115   Section 13 : Concluding Remarks .................................................................................... 118

Addendum: Alternative Sites proposal for a new University Campus ......................... 122 Rationale .......................................................................................................................... 125   Outside Development Zone (ODZ) and Planning policy .................................................. 126   Constitution of Malta .................................................................................................... 126   SMIA 13 National Park................................................................................................. 127   SMCO 03: Protection of Areas of Ecological Importance (AEIs) & Sites of Scientific Importance (SSIs) ........................................................................................................ 127   SMCO 06: Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLVs) .................................................. 127  


Contiguous Protection Areas ....................................................................................... 128 POLICY SOC 12: Use of existing buildings ................................................................. 128   Visual Integrity ............................................................................................................. 129   The Local Plan ................................................................................................................. 131   Functions of the South Malta local plans ..................................................................... 131   Alternative sites proposed – a spread campus .............................................................. 132   Utilising existing Fortifications .......................................................................................... 132   Compatibility of re-use ................................................................................................. 133   Ownership and Public Access ..................................................................................... 133   Fort Ricasoli – usable area 43, 500 sqm ..................................................................... 133   Fort Saint Rocco – usable area c. 8,500 sqm .............................................................. 135   Fort San Salvatore – usable area c. 8,500 sqm........................................................... 135   Infrastructure in the area .................................................................................................. 136   Inner Grand Harbour – another alternative ..................................................................... 138   Brownfield sites and Quarries – a third alternative ........................................................ 140   A Fourth Alternative: The ex-Malta International Airport area at Ħal-Luqa . ................141   Upholding of Sustainability principles and Recommendations ........................................ 142   Recommendations ....................................................................................................... 142   Economic perspective .................................................................................................. 144   Social impact................................................................................................................ 145   Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 146  


Table of  Figures  

FIGURE 1  :  APPROXIMATE  AREA  OUTLINED  FOR  THE  PURPOSES  OF  THIS  PROJECT.  NOTE  ŻONQOR  HOUSING  ESTATE  (RED),  FORT  SAINT   LEONARD  (DEEP  BLUE),  DELLE  GRAZIE  BATTERIA  (LIGHT  BLUE),  DAR  TAL- BARUNESSA  (GREEN)  ......................................17   FIGURE  2  :    AREAS  OF  LANDSCAPE  VALUE  (TRANSPARENT  BLUE),  SURFACE  WATER,  SAC  AND  SPAS  (NONE).  ...............................  27   FIGURE  3  :  THE  COASTLINE  NEAR  THE  TAL- WIESGĦA  TOWER  ..............................................................................................28   FIGURE  4  :  INDISCRIMINATE  ILLEGAL  CONSTRUCTION  WASTE  DUMPING  IS  A  PROBLEM  IN  THE  AREA  ............................................  34   FIGURE  5  :    AIR  POLLUTION  IN  THE  SOUTH  IS  A  SIGNIFICANT  HEALTH  HAZARD  .......................................................................  40   FIGURE  6  :  ŻONQOR  -  XGĦAJRA  COASTLINE  -  ONE  OF  THE  LAST  REMAINING  STRETCHES  OF  UNBUILT  COAST  IN  THE  REGION  ............41   FIGURE  7  :  WHEAT  FIELDS  AT  SAN  NIKLAW  CHAPEL  .........................................................................................................  42   FIGURE  8  :  FORT  MANOEL,  MANOEL  ISLAND.  AN  EXCELLENT  EXAMPLE  OF  ARCHITECTURAL  CONSERVATION.  ...............................  43   FIGURE  9  :  MALTA  REPEATEDLY  RANKS  AMONGST  THE  HIGHEST  IN  THE  EU  WHEN  IT  COMES  TO  OBESITY  ....................................  49   FIGURE  10  :  THE  ADVENT  OF  SOCIAL  MEDIA  HAS  ALLOWED  LARGE  GROUPS  OF  PEOPLE  TO  FORM  AND  REGULARLY  GO  HIKING  IN  THE   COUNTRYSIDE,  INCREASING  APPRECIATION  OF  THE  COUNTRYSIDE  ..............................................................................  51  

FIGURE 11  :  MALTA  IS  QUITE  LITERALLY  OFF  THE  CHARTS  WHEN  IT  COMES  TO  BOTH  POPULATION  DENSITY  AND  %  OF  LAND  COVER  IN   TOTAL  AREA  ...................................................................................................................................................  52  

FIGURE 12  :  POPULATION  DENSITY  CHANGE  -  2007  DATA  (NSO).  NOTE  MARSASCALA  AS  ONE  OF  THE  HIGHEST  IN  DENSITY  CHANGE.  ....................................................................................................................................................................  53   FIGURE  13  :  DECLINE  IN  POPULATION  DEFINED  AS  'RURAL'  IN  THE  COMING  DECADES  (DATA  OBTAINED  FROM  UN- HABITAT)  .........53   FIGURE  14  :  MALTA  RANKS  9TH  IN  URBANISATION  FIGURES  WORLDWIDE  ...........................................................................  54   FIGURE  15  :  TOURISM  IN  MALTA  -  COMBINATION  OF  FAVOURABLE  CLIMATE  AND  CULTURAL  HERITAGE  ......................................58   FIGURE  16  :  THE  MAIN  MOTIVATIONS  FOR  CHOOSING  MALTA  ..........................................................................................  59   FIGURE  17  :  TOURIST  PARTICIPATION  IN  CULTURAL  ACTIVITIES  ..........................................................................................  59   FIGURE  18  :  THE  CHARACTERISTIC  LANDSCAPE  OF  THE  AREA  IS  AN  ATTRACTION  TO  TOURISTS  ....................................................  60   FIGURE  19  :  TORRI  TAL-WIESGĦA  .................................................................................................................................64   FIGURE  20  :  BEACH  DEFENSES  CAN  BE  SEEN  ALONG  THE  COAST  ..........................................................................................  66   FIGURE  21  :  DAR  TAL- BARUNESSA  ..............................................................................................................................66   FIGURE  22  :  EXCERPT  FROM  PERIT  EDWARD  SAID'S  REPORT,  SUGGESTING  POSSIBLE  USES  FOR  DAR  TAL- BARUNESSA  ..................67   FIGURE  23  :  THREE  CROSSES  IN  BIDNI  ...........................................................................................................................  67   FIGURE  24  :  MADONNA  TAD- DAWL  CHAPEL  .................................................................................................................68   FIGURE  25  :  SAN  NIKLAW  CHAPEL  ................................................................................................................................  69   FIGURE  26:  THE  UNCOVERED  CISTERN  ...........................................................................................................................  69   FIGURE  27  :  THE  COASTAL  NETWORK  OF  CAVES  KNOWN  AS  'ISf SWALI'  ................................................................................70   FIGURE  28  :  THE  ENDEMIC  MALTESE  ROCK- CENTAURY  (PALAEOCYANUS  CRASSIFOLIUS);  MALTA’S  ‘NATIONAL  PLANT’.  ...............78   FIGURE  30  :  THE  ENDEMIC  MALTESE  SEA- CHAMOMILE  (ANTHEMIS  URVILLEANA);  COMMON  ON  THE  SITE.  .................................78  


FIGURE 30  :  MALTESE  SALT- TREE  (SALSOLA  MELITENSIS)  (RIGHT)  CONTENDING  WITH  THE  INVASIVE  KAFFIR  FIG  (CARPOBROTUS   EDULIS)  (LEFT).  ...............................................................................................................................................  79  

FIGURE 31  :  THE  SUB- ENDEMIC  PIGNATTI’S  FERN- GRASS  (DESMAZERIA  PIGNATTII).  ..........................................................79   FIGURE  32  :  MALTESE  CROSSWORT  (CRUCIANELLA  RUPESTRIS).  .........................................................................................  80   FIGURE  33  :  TWO  SPECIES  OF  ICEPLANT  (LEFT:  MESEMBRYANTHEMUM  CRYSTALLINUM;  RIGHT:  M.  NODIFLORUM)  .....................  80   FIGURE  34  :  HARE’S- TAIL  GRASS  (LAGURUS  OVATUS),  COMMON  ON  THE  SITE  ......................................................................81   FIGURE  35  :  MEDITERRANEAN  DROPSEED  GRASS  (SPOROBOLUS  PUNGENS),  NORMALLY  A  SANDf DUNE  SPECIES  ..........................81   FIGURE  36  :  KAFFIR  FIG  (CARPOBROTUS  EDULIS),  A  HIGHLY  INVASIVE  SPECIES  FROM  SOUTH  AFRICA.  ........................................  81   FIGURE  37  :  SPANISH  DWARF- IRIS  (MORAEA  SISIRHYNCHIUM);  COMMON  IN  UNDISTURBED  SITES.  .........................................81   FIGURE  38  :  TREE  MALLOW  (MALVA  ARBOREA),  ONE  OF  THE  COMMONEST  SPECIES  ON  THE  DISTURBED  GROUND.  ......................  82   FIGURE  39  :  NEW  FOREST  FARM  IN  THE  US  -  AN  EXAMPLE  OF  HOW  FARMING  CAN  ACTUALLY  ENHANCE  A  LANDSCAPE  ................86   FIGURE  40  :  AGRICULTURAL  LAND  IN  THE  AREA  ..............................................................................................................  86   FIGURE  41  :  AN  EXAMPLE  OF  A  FOODFOREST  CONCEPT  ......................................................................................................88   FIGURE  42:  THE  CAROB  TREE  (ĦARRUBA)    AN  EXAMPLE  OF  A  FODDER  TREE  USED  FOR  SUCH  A  PURPOSE  IN  THE  PAST  .....................88   FIGURE  43  :  SEA  PURSLANE  (HALIMIONE  PORTULACOIDES)    FOUND  GROWING  COMMONLY  ALONG  THE  MALTESE  COAST  ...............88   FIGURE  44  :  RELAIS  TORRE  MARABINO  -  AN  EXAMPLE  OF  AN  ECO- HOTEL  IN  SICILY  ............................................................89   FIGURE  45  :  ŻONQOR  REEF  -  A  FERTILE  REEF  RICH  IN  BIODIVERSITY  ......................................................................................92   FIGURE  46  :  LE  POLYNESIEN  -  A  POPULAR  WRECK  DIVE  OFF  THE  COAST  OF  MARSASKALA  .......................................................93   FIGURE  47  :  MARE  NOSTRUM,  A  RESULT  OF  THE  ICZM  PROTOCOL  SIGNED  IN  2008,  AN  EXAMPLE  OF  CROSSf BORDER  COOPERATION  .....................................................................................................................................................................93   FIGURE  48  :  BLUE  GROTTO  -  A  SUCCESSFUL  BOAT  TRIP  TOURISM  ENTERPRISE  THAT  CAN  BE  APPLIED  ALONG  THE  XGĦAJRA  -   MARSASKALA  COASTLINE  ...................................................................................................................................95   FIGURE  49  :  100  METRE  SETBACK  (MARKED  IN  RED)  ........................................................................................................  96   FIGURE  50  :  ONE  OF  THE  INLETS  ALONG  IS- SWALI  ....................................................................................................... 100   FIGURE  51  :  A  MILITARY  ENTRENCHMENT  LINE  BUILT  DURING  THE  TIME  OF  THE  KNIGHTS,  FOUND  IN  THE  AREA  ..........................  101   FIGURE  52  :  PART  OF  THE  EXTENSIVE  SALT  PANS  FOUND  IN  MARSASKALA  TOWARDS  ŻONQOR  POINT  .......................................  102   FIGURE  53  :  DAR  TAL- BARUNESSA  -  A  POTENTIAL  SITE  FOR  A  CULINARY  RESTAURANT  AND  CONFERENCE  CENTRE?  ..................103   FIGURE  54  :  SUGGESTED  ACCESSIBILITY  IMPROVEMENTS,  WITHOUT  RECURRING  TO  BUILDING  ADDITIONAL  ROADS  AND  TRADITIONAL   VEHICULAR  ACCESS.  .......................................................................................................................................  105  

FIGURE 55:  PHOTO  MONTAGE  SHOWING  COUNTRY  LANES  AS  THEY  CURRENTLY  APPEAR  (LEFT),  AND  WITH  IMPROVED  ACCESSIBILITY   (RIGHT)  .......................................................................................................................................................  105   FIGURE  56  :  PHOTO  MONTAGE  SHOWING  AN  EXAMPLE  OF  IMPROVED  ACCESSIBILITY  TOWARDS  THE  ST.  NICHOLAS  CHAPEL.  NOTE  THE   RESTORED  RUBBLE  WALLS  IN  THE  PICTURE  TO  THE  LEFT,  AND  THE  WATER  CULVERTS  ALONG  THE  FOOTPATHS  FOR  IMPROVED   DRAINAGE.  ...................................................................................................................................................  106  

FIGURE 57:  SIMILAR  FOOTPATH  IMPROVEMENTS  TOWARDS  THE  DAR  TAL- BARUNESSA,  WITH  INFORMATION  SIGNPOSTS.  ...........106   FIGURE  58:  RUBBLE  WALL  IMPROVEMENTS  WOULD  GREATLY  ENHANCE  THE  VISUAL  CHARACTERISTICS  OF  THE  SITE,  BESIDES  RESTORING   ITS  ORIGINAL  CHARACTER.  ...............................................................................................................................  107  

FIGURE 59  :  THE  FOUR  PILLARS  OF  SUSTAINABLE  DEVELOPMENT  NEED  TO  BE  APPLIED  TO  ALL  PROJECTS  IN  THE  MALTESE  ISLANDS  .  110  


FIGURE 60  :  EKOSKOLA  -  AN  ENVIRONMENTAL  EDUCATIONAL  PROGRAM  THAT  HAS  BEEN  APPLIED  IN  MALTESE  SCHOOLS  OVER  THE  LAST   DECADE  .......................................................................................................................................................  111  

FIGURE 61:  SIBIT  -  AN  EXAMPLE  OF  A  TOURIST  ATTRACTION  THAT  CAN  BE  INCLUDED  IN  THE  AREA  .........................................115   FIGURE  62:  THE  LOCAL  PLAN  OF  2006,  OUTLINING  THE  AREA  PROPOSED  FOR  THE  CAMPUS  AS  A  PARK  ....................................  130   FIGURE  63:  AN  IMAGE  OVERLAY,  SHOWING  PROPOSED  CAMPUS  AREA  AND  PROPOSED  NATURAL  PARK,  SUPERIMPOSED  ON  LOCAL   PLAN  2006  PARK  AREA  ..................................................................................................................................  130   FIGURE  64:  MAP  SHOWING  THREE  VIABLE  FORTIFICATIONS  IN  THE  KALKARA  AREA  ...............................................................  132   FIGURE  65:  ENTRANCE  TO  FORT  RICASOLI  ...................................................................................................................  134   FIGURE  66:  FORT  SAINT  ROCCO  ................................................................................................................................  135   FIGURE  67:  FORT  SALVATORE  ENTRANCE  DURING  THE  BRITISH  PERIOD  .............................................................................  133   FIGURE  68:  ROADS  AROUND  SAN  SALVATORE  (TRIQ  SANTA  LIBERATA  AND  TRIQ  SAN  DWARDU)  ............................................  137   FIGURE  69:  TRIQ  SANTU  ROKKU,  LEADING  TO  BOTH  ST  ROCCO  AND  RICASOLI  ....................................................................  137   FIGURE  70:  INNER  GRAND  HARBOUR  AREA  .................................................................................................................  138   FIGURE  71:  MARSA  POWER  STATION  (BLUE),  MALTA  SHIPBUILDING  AND  AN  UNSPECIFIED,  DERELICT  AREA  (GREEN)  ..................  138   FIGURE  72:  QUARRY  NEAR  MARSASCALA  (LIGHT  GREEN)  AND  JERMA  PALACE  HOTEL  (BLUE- GREEN)  ......................................140   FIGURE  73:  EX- MALTA  INTERNATIONAL  AIRPORT  AT  LUQA  ...........................................................................................141   FIGURE  74:  A SPREAD CAMPUS ACROSS THIS AREA.............................................................................................  144  


Document History This proposal for a San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni Rural Landscape area has been compiled by volunteers from various fields of expertise during the past few months. The prompt was a response to the proposal of the Privatisation Unit to develop the area between Ta’ Barkat in Xgħajra and Żonqor in Marsaskala: the first step was reported to be the construction of 3 hotels and a lido linked by a road, to be followed by high-end bungalows and villas from the hilltop down to the coast. This proposal was reported in the media during November 2014. The team behind the San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni Rural Landscape Area proposal took additional food for thought from the proceedings of a civil society initiative “Forum on a Vision for the South” that took place within Global College Malta of Smart City, Kalkara in March 2015. In April 2015 Government proposed the construction of a 90 tumoli University Campus by developers from Jordan. Concurrently Government proposed a 450 tumoli natural park from Żonqor Point in Marsaskala to Ta’ Barkat area in Xgħajra. The combined area proposed is less than that scheduled for a park area by the 2006 Local Plan for the South-East. Within the above mentioned scenarios the team continued to work on a proposal for the San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni Rural Landscape Area; this is larger in size than the park area scheduled by the 2006 Local Plan for the South-East, to maintain the congruity of the areas. Concurrently it participated in the consultation process to suggest alternative sites for the university campus: the annex to this document describes the voluntary work done in this respect.

Figure 1: Approximate area outlined for the purposes of this project. Note Żonqor Housing Estate (Red), Fort Saint Leonard (deep blue), Delle Grazie Batteria (light blue), Dar tal-Barunessa (green)

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Contributors Contributors and their contribution to date include, in alphabetical order: Veronica Barbara Jason Bonnici Charlot Cassar George Cassar John Paul Cauchi Matthew Demarco JD Farrugia Michela Fenech Reuben Grima Edwin Lanfranco Mark Mifsud Edward Said Mark Anthony Sammut Rio Sammut Giorgio Schembri Marie-Louise Schembri Joerg Sicot Anna Spiteri Jos Willemsen Anna Zammit

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Archaeology, Heritage Environmental Health Finance Tourism Environmental Health Design - cover and sections Design and Content Editing Law Cultural Landscapes Botany Environmental Education Architecture and Conservation Accessibility Marine biology, fishing Accessibility, Architecture, Sustainability Sustainable Development Graphics and Design Environmental conservation Fringe farming and ecological farming Sociology

NIFS would also like to especially thank Ms Theresa Debono for contributing some of her photographs of the area.

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Executive Summary NIFS (National Independent Forum for Sustainability) is a think-tank formed of individuals from a range of professions and walks of life, including individuals from private companies, environmental NGOs, academics and local stakeholders who have no associations with political parties. NIFS was set up following the 'Vision for the South forum' held on 28th March 2015, so as to discuss and propose projects and ideas based on the principles of Sustainable Development focusing on four pillars - economy, society, environment and culture - all at equal standing. Its members are acting on a voluntary basis and in their private capacity, and share a strong commitment to promoting more responsible approaches to the sustainable enjoyment of non-renewable resources, and all share a genuine concern for Malta. NIFS is putting forward this document for consultation on the San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni Rural Landscape Area as a basis for discussion and consensus-building among stakeholders, and to share their views and their vision with planners and policy-makers. There is an extraordinarily high density of existing urban development in Malta, while un-built areas of countryside are fast decreasing. NIFS therefore considers that the area of southeast Malta between Xgħajra, Żonqor and Bidni should continue to be recognised and protected as an Area of High Landscape Value, and safeguarded as a National Park, consolidating and expanding on the protective designations in the South Malta Local Plan, both for its intrinsic value and also for the enjoyment of the surrounding communities and their visitors. NIFS recognises that the hard-working farmers with their fields and farmland are an asset to the area and to the country and while fully respecting that, proposes to take the opportunity to have a far better earning model for them. Building development in and around the area of the proposed park should be contained within existing Development Zone Boundaries, which should not be extended. This document puts forward a series of guidelines and proposals for the sustainability of this rural, cultural and natural landscape.

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PRINCIPLES Section 1


Section 1 : Principles Every present and future citizen has an inalienable right to the enjoyment of his or her cultural heritage, stemming from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights The right to enjoyment of cultural heritage, inclusive of the cultural landscape, is inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1, Faro Convention 2005). Governments are entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard this right, not only for present but also future generations of citizens. Governments and policy-makers have a duty never to compromise this public right in order to achieve short-term financial benefits, or to serve narrow interest groups.

Our natural and built environment shapes our health and wellbeing. The natural and built environments that we inhabit are crucial determinants of our health and wellbeing, physical, psychological, and social. The south-east of Malta has a long history of neglect and degradation of its cultural landscapes for industrial purposes, which have had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of its residents. The coastal area between Xgħajra and Żonqor, together with its rural hinterland, is the last lung for the people of the surrounding communities. Safeguarding it for their enjoyment and recreation is vital for the improvement of their health and wellbeing, and to that of future generations of their communities.

The area between Xgħajra, Żonqor and Bidni shall continue to be recognised and protected as an Area of High Landscape Value, for public enjoyment. ‘The landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas’ (Preamble to the European Landscape Convention, 2000). There is an extraordinarily high density of existing urban development in Malta, while unbuilt areas of countryside are a dwindling and non-renewable resource. The coastal area between Xgħajra and Żonqor is already designated as a National Park, and a number of other protective designations in the South Malta Local Plan (considered in greater detail in the next section, ‘Policy Framework’). It is proposed that the contiguous protection zones around the area designated as a National Park be consolidated into a single, continuous protected landscape, extending to and including the tal-Bidni area, and safeguarded for the enjoyment of the surrounding communities and their visitors. Building development in and around the area of the proposed park should be contained within existing Development Zone Boundaries, which should not be extended.

Visual integrity of the landscape is an important asset for our quality of life, and that of our visitors.

The Maltese cultural landscape is one of Malta’s most valuable and irreplaceable assets. It must not only be safeguarded from direct physical impacts, but also from impacts on its visual integrity. The configuration of the coastal area between Xgħajra, Żonqor, and Fort San Leonardo forms a visual envelope which is almost entirely free of visual intrusions caused by urbanisation. 22


No new constructions outside existing Development Zone boundaries should be contemplated within this viewshed. Sensitive height limitation policies, based on thorough visual impact studies, should be introduced to regulate development within the existing Development Zones at Xgħajra and Żonqor.

There is a common concern to achieve sustainable economic regeneration, particularly in southeast Malta. The dense concentration of redundant military infrastructure in and around the area of the proposed natural park is severely underutilized at present. This non-renewable heritage resource may only be preserved and enjoyed through the identification of new and appropriate uses for these sites, on the model of the highly successful conversion of comparable defensive works in other countries into distinctive tourism accommodation, respecting the authenticity and legibility of the historic fabric, and without resorting to accretions or additions to their footprint. The economic models applied must be carefully designed to guarantee the delicate balance and synergy between the sustainable enjoyment of this cultural resource, and the enjoyment of the surrounding landscape. The injection of public funding into the reclaiming and restoration of this historic infrastructure may be in the public interest, while their management and operation may, with appropriate safeguards, be entrusted to public-private partnerships in a sustainable and equitable way. The restoration and change of use of existing built infrastructure should be carried out in line with best practice conservation and sustainable development criteria. This should ensure that measurable and reported steps are implemented such that the construction and operation of the buildings and immediate surroundings do not negatively affect the value of the site and its surroundings, the health and well-being of occupants, mitigate local pollution and take all steps necessary to limit the effects on climate change.

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POLICY FRAMEWORK Section 2


Section 2: Policy Framework The inalienable public right of present and future generations to enjoy their landscape and coastline stems from the Constitution of Malta. More specifically, the safeguarding of the landscape and coastline between Xgħajra and Marsaskala is embedded in the current planning policy framework. The proposal to build a university campus, in whole or in part, within this coastal area is a direct contradiction of these principles and policy objectives, and a travesty of the State’s responsibilities under Article 9 of the Constitution.

Constitution of Malta ‘The State shall safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the Nation.’

(Article 9, Constitution of Malta)

Existing Planning Policy The countryside and coastline between Xgħajra and Marsaskala is safeguarded by a number of policies in the planning policy framework that is presently in force. Most of the area under discussion is not simply Outside Development Zone, but is, in addition, covered by specific policies in the South Malta Local Plan, some of the more salient of which are listed below. The following policies should be read in conjunction with the relevant drawings, particularly: https://www.mepa.org.mt/local_plans/smlp/Marsaskala%20North%20Policy%20Map.jpg https://www.mepa.org.mt/local_plans/smlp/Marsaskala%20Environmental%20Constraints%20Map.j pg

SMIA 1 3 National Park The Policy states: “This local plan designates the area known as l-Għassa tal-Munxar (Marsaskala) and the coastal stretch between Il-Ponta taż-Żonqor (Marsaskala) and Blata l-Bajda (Xgħajra), as indicated in Policy Maps MS1, MS2, XA1 and ZA1, as National Parks primarily for informal recreation (e.g. walking, cycling) and the appreciation of the ecological, geological, archaeological as well as cultural-historical features of these areas. Within these parks priority will be given to the conservation, protection and improvement of the natural and cultural-historical heritage…”

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Further on, the Policy also states: “These two stretches of coast are important ecological, geological and cultural areas due to the variety of features and elements present in these areas ranging from salt pans to fortifications to a number of important ecological habitats. This policy seeks to maximize the recreational use of the site whilst protecting and providing for the appreciation of the rich heritage of these areas.”

SMCO 06: Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLVs) The AHLVs identified in this policy include the area between Żonqor Point (Marsaskala) and Blata lBajda (Xgħajra), including the entire area of the Żonqor location under discussion as a site for a new university campus. The Policy states: “MEPA designates the areas identified on the respective Policy Maps as Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLV) as per Section 46 of the Development Planning Act, 1992 and Structure Plan policy RCO There shall be a strong presumption against the creation of new built structures (including cultivation and animal husbandry related structures) in AHLVs.” The Policy also states: “These areas are essential as local recreational venues for the local populations as well as distinctive local open space lungs which help to impart a feeling of remoteness from the urban atmosphere which is so prevalent in the south of Malta.”

Figure 2 : Areas of Landscape value (transparent blue), surface water, SAC and SPAs (none).

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Contiguous Protection Areas In addition to the Policies referred to above, there are a number of complementary policies, which protect areas that are contiguous to the area designated as a National Park in Policy SMIA 13. These include SMC 07: Valley Protection Zones; SMC 04: Archaeologically Sensitive Areas. This creates an opportunity to further integrate and consolidate these various protection measures, by safeguarding contiguous areas around the National Park, extending across tal-Bidni to the Marsaskala road, to act as buffer zones for the Park itself.

Visual Integrity Visual integrity of the landscape is an important asset for our quality of life, and that of our visitors. The Maltese cultural landscape is one of Malta’s most valuable and irreplaceable assets. It must not only be safeguarded from direct physical impacts, but also from impacts on its visual integrity. The configuration of the area of the National Park (SMIA 13) between Xgħajra, Żonqor, and Fort San Leonardo forms a visual envelope which is almost entirely free of visual intrusions caused by urbanisation. No new constructions outside existing Development Zone boundaries should be contemplated within this viewshed. Sensitive height limitation policies, based on thorough visual impact studies, should be introduced to regulate development within the existing Development Zones at Xgħajra and Żonqor. The proposal to attempt to integrate a university campus, in whole or in part, within the area designated as a National Park in Policy SMIA 13 is a direct contradiction of this principle, and a travesty of the very purpose of the Park.

South Malta Local Plan

Figure 3 : The coastline near the Tal-Wiesgħa Tower

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Some Background 1.1.1 A Local Plan deals mainly with land-use planning and development issues, and indicates where development can take place, what type and the criteria against which development proposals will be assessed by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA). Its main function is to guide development by seeking a sustainable balance between economic and social needs of the public (e.g homes, shops, employment, transport, recreation and community facility requirements) and the need to protect and improve the existing urban and natural environment and to meet future demand in a sustainable manner. This is a complex task as requirements are diverse and very often conflicting and the various individual interests have to be balanced against the needs and interests of the general public. 1.1.2 The primary thrust of this Plan is to afford protection and secure enhancement of all the assets the area contains, to achieve a more sustainable quality of life and efficient use of land for all sectors. 1.2.1 The functions of the South Malta Local Plan include:1. To apply and evaluate the strategy, principles, policies and standards of the Structure Plan on a local scale; 2. To provide area and site specific, detailed guidance for development control by proposing allocations for particular land uses, defining areas in which particular development control policies will apply, safeguarding areas for specific future land uses and stating standards and other criteria to which development must conform; 3. To highlight all areas which require protection from development for social and environmental and other planning reasons. 1.2.2 The rural character of the area is an important feature, which warrants a careful approach to development, particularly since specific infrastructure (Sant’Antnin Plant) and quarrying operations have created adverse impacts on the rural environment. Important areas of conservation value in the South Malta Local Plan area include the saline marshland at Il-Magħluq, Marsascala, which is the only example of this type of habitat in the Local Plan area. This is one of the few remaining saline marshlands supporting many halophilic species. The area towards Tal-Munxar, St. Thomas Bay has many Pleistocene deposits and supports an endemic subterranean cricket. The following areas also have features of particular ecological interest – the coastal slopes of the Xgħajra – Żonqor region, the valleys that drain into Marsascala Bay and into Marsaxlokk Bay and those that form the Wied il-Kbir complex.

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Overall General Strategy 1.3.1 The overall strategy for the South Malta Local Plan area is to improve the quality of the environment for the population living within this region and to ensure that sufficient provision of land has been made to meet demands not only with regard to housing and employment but also to accommodate facilities including social and community and recreational facilities. The strategy seeks to make efficient use of the land designated for development by the Temporary Provisions (Schemes, 1988, through various policies including a policy of containment of existing settlements) 1.3.2 The Plan aims to secure an improvement to the quality of the environment of urban areas through various measures including ensuring the provision of appropriate sites, outside residential areas, for the relocation of obnoxious activities, introduction of traffic management schemes in all localities, facilitating the provision of support facilities like social and community facilities, etc. 1.3.3 With regard to the rural and coastal environment the strategy seeks to facilitate the rehabilitation of degraded rural landscapes and the protection and safeguarding of the limited coastal stretch for the provision of recreational facilities.

Settlements Policies Strategic Background:

The Structure Plan’s main strategy with regard to new urban development is to channel development into the existing built-up areas primarily through the rehabilitation and redevelopment of existing buildings (SET 1) and the prevention of development of undeveloped land outside the development boundaries (SET 11 and RCO 2). POLICY SET 1: Encouragement will be given to continuing development, including rehabilitation and redevelopment, within existing built-up areas as defined in the Structure Plan as long as such development does not infringe the Policies BEN 1, 2 and 3. POLICY BEN 1: Development will not normally be permitted if the proposal is likely to have a deleterious impact on existing or planned adjacent uses because of visual intrusion, noise, vibration, atmospheric pollution, unusually high traffic generation, unusual operating times, or any other characteristic which in the opinion of the Planning Authority would constitute bad neighbourliness. POLICY BEN 2: Development will not normally be permitted if, in the opinion of the Planning Authority, it is incompatible with the good urban design, natural heritage, and environmental characteristics of existing or planned adjacent uses, and is unlikely to maintain the good visual integrity of the area in which it is located. There will be a presumption against development which does not generally observe the design guidelines issued by the Planning Authority for built-up areas. POLICY BEN 3: Permission for development will normally be given only if provision is made in the proposal for the installation of underground ducts to link electricity and telecommunications distribution networks to the development, the ducts to be utilised immediately if underground supplies are available or held in reserve for subsequent use if only overhead supplies are available at the time of the development.

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2.1.1 With regard to Rural Settlements, the Structure Plan adopts a restrictive approach to developments in the countryside. Policy SET 11 and para 7.6 specify those categories of nonurban development which will be permitted outside existing and committed built-up areas. The Structure Plan provides that only farmhouses and other genuine agricultural buildings, reservoirs, picnic areas toilets and car parks, control buildings and wall/fences at archaeological and ecological sites are considered acceptable inclusions in the non-urban scene. POLICY SET 11: No form of urban development will be permitted outside existing and committed built-up areas, and primary development areas as designated in the Structure Plan even where roads and public utilities are available. Permitted forms of non-urban development outside such areas are restricted to those stated in paragraph 7.6 of the Structure Plan: The term 'urbanisation' means the creation of new built-up areas containing all or most urban uses: houses, shops, offices, factories, and all the built support facilities which these accumulate. In seeking to prohibit urbanisation of existing non-urban areas it is not the intention to prohibit built structures of various kinds which are normal and legitimate inclusions in the non-urban scene - farmhouses and other genuine agricultural buildings, reservoirs, picnic area toilets and car parks, and control buildings and walls/ fences at archaeological and ecological sites. Nevertheless, the provision of such structures must be controlled in order to preserve and enhance the environmental quality of the countryside. POLICY RCO 2: Within Rural Conservation Areas and in accordance with Policy SET 11 no form of urban development will be allowed. However, in accordance with Policy BEN 5, applications for permission to develop structures or facilities essential to agricultural, ecological, or scenic interests will be favourably considered as long as the proposed development does not infringe the principles set out in Policy RCO 4 as subsequently detailed in the relevant Local Plan (Policy RCO 3). See also Policies RCO 7 and 8. With regard to existing buildings and other structures in Rural Conservation Areas, and other rural areas, the overall aim is to improve the rural environment. To this end the rehabilitation and suitable change of use of some buildings will be permitted, in conjunction with the removal of other buildings and structures, which adversely affect the rural environment. POLICY SET 12: Notwithstanding the policy against any form of urbanization outside areas designated for urban uses in the Structure Plan, the Planning Authority will consider applications for permission to develop which ostensibly infringe Policy SET in any such case the onus will be on the applicant to present evidence as to why the polciy should be infringed, giving reasons why from a planning point of view such proposed use cannot be located in areas designated for development. The Planning Authority will additionally require the applicant to submit at his own expense a full Environmental Impact Assessment of a form and content satisfactory to the Authority. This policy is not a means of evading policy SET 11 or any other policy. An Environmental Impact Assessment, which adequately demonstrates acceptable impacts will not be a reason for the granting of a development permit if the proposed use can be located in an area intended for its development under the Structure Plan or any subsequent approved Planning Authority document.

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Strategy

2.2.1 The strategy for urban settlements in the SMLP includes: 1. to contain urban development within the Limits to Development boundaries and make efficient use

of existing undeveloped land within such boundaries;

2.2.2 The strategy for rural settlements is: 1. to protect their identity by preventing as far as possible their coalescence with urban settlements (e.g. Żejtun, Żabbar, Marsascala). 2. to ensure that essential features of historic settlements are safeguarded and measures adopted to promote their rehabilitation and conservation so as to enhance the character and amenity of these settlements. 3. to provide the framework which enables derelict and abandoned buildings within rural settlements being brought into effective use through the identification of appropriate uses; 4. allow for modest and controlled development within rural settlements. The SMLP itself acknowledges the fact that “the urban settlements in the plan area are generally highly urbanized with very little pockets left for public open space (e.g. gardens, piazzas and playgrounds). Approximately 5% of the urban zone in the plan area is taken up by open spaces. This highly urbanized character of certain localities (e.g. Fgura, Tarxien) decreases the quality of the urban environment of these areas and reduces the quality of living for the residents.” It also recongises the fact that “The residential amenity and quality of life of residents has been adversely affected by the introduction of incompatible uses particularly small scale industries and warehousing (e.g. Ħal Farruġ, Tarxien), the development of quarries and related activities (Mqabba, Qrendi, Siġġiewi), and scrapyards (e.g. Fgura).”

Agriculture “It is important to appreciate that the contribution which agriculture makes in creating the environmental character and quality of the rural landscape, which in turn affects tourism, is out of all proportion to its small contribution to the GNP.” The Structure Plan encourages improvements in agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture and soil conservation. The Regional Socio-Economic Development Plan for the South of Malta addressed aspects of agriculture and made recommendations for their implementation. Amongst the recommendations made is the need to capitalise on the potential offered by rural tourism and the maintenance of Afforestation sites in order to protect arable land, screening of buildings and a source of hardy fruit growing. Strategy:

The strategy for Agriculture and Fisheries in the plan area include: the prevention of the depletion of existing and encourage reinstatement of degraded and disturbed agricultural land (e.g. increasing irrigation facilities); encouraging appropriate development and reuse of agricultural buildings to ensure that agricultural activity and farms remain viable and therefore sustainable;

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Policy SMAG 01 Protection of Agricultural Land:

MEPA will continue to protect agricultural land from all types of inappropriate development. Within Agricultural Areas, as indicated on the relevant Environmental Constraints Maps, only buildings, structures and uses essential to the needs of agriculture will be permitted and then only if it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of MEPA that they will not adversely affect water supplies, soil and landscape, and accord with all other policies within this Local Plan. Improvements to existing agricultural land and buildings aimed at increased productivity will be favourably considered by MEPA providing they are well designed, efficient and contribute to rather than detract from the quality of the local and surrounding environment. Links to Environmental Constraints Maps: https://www.mepa.org.mt/local_plans/smlp/Xg침ajra%20Environmental%20Constraints%20Map.jpg https://www.mepa.org.mt/local_plans/smlp/Zabbar%20East%20Environmental%20Constraints%20 Map.jpg https://www.mepa.org.mt/local_plans/smlp/Zabbar%20West%20Environmental%20Constraints%20 Map.jpg https://www.mepa.org.mt/local_plans/smlp/Marsascala%20Environmental%20Constraints%20Map.j pg

Social and Community Facilities The provision of social and community facilities (Education, Health and Care for the Elderly and Disabled) within the plan area is a particularly important issue in view of the high residential densities in most localities and the ever-increasing senior population. In 1995 the over 61 accounted for 12.5% of the total population in the plan area. It is estimated that this would increase to over 20% by 2010. Social and community facilities add an important dimension to the social development of a society and forge closer relationships and understanding between the residents. You can see through the following policies that priority is always given to existing or empty buildings: POLICY SOC 12: A new vocational education/technical college is required to develop scarce skills, particularly in the fields of technology and management. The Ministry of Education and the Planning Authority will determine the feasibility of establishing such an institution in Valletta through the medium of the Local Plan. Particular consideration will be given to the conversion of underused or

empty building, and to the inclusion of student residential facilities which could be used during college holidays for the accommodation of conference participants. POLICY SOC 13: The Planning Authority, mainly through the Local Plans, will co-operate with the Ministry of Education in implementing policies aimed at seeking the optimal use of existing education sites and buildings in relation to forecast demographic characteristics, and in realising higher standards of provision on new sites of classroom and specialist uses, playing fields, and servicing/parking.

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Strategy:

The strategy with regard to Social and Community Facilities includes: • encouraging the optimal use of educational facilities through upgrading of and extensions to existing facilities Policy SMSO 03 Education Facilities

The Local Plan identifies and safeguards land for new schools, and extensions to existing schools, where such a facility is required and which is adequate for the provision of a range of educational and sports facilities, provides good access and does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the amenity of neighbouring property. In those cases where new schools are required to replace existing schools, sites outside the Limits to Development may be considered subject to the site satisfying ALL the following conditions: i. the site is located along the perimeter of the Limits to Development boundary; ii. the site is not located on a scheduled, designated or protected area including Areas of Ecological Importance, Sites of Scientific Importance, Areas or Sites of Archaeological Importance, Areas of High Landscape Value and Nature Reserves or constitutes high quality agricultural land; iii. The site has no significant adverse impact on adjacent protected areas, ground water vulnerability, or nearby settlements; iv. Site is easily accessed from an arterial road and entrance to and exit out of the site does not cause a traffic flow hazard; v. The development of the site would not result in the coalescence of urban settlements.

Urban and Rural Conservation The South Malta Local Plan area comprises a substantial extent of non-urban land. 66% of the entire plan area consists of rural areas. Agriculture is the main land use with mineral extraction activities and other obnoxious industries concentrated in particular areas e.g. Tal-Ħlas (Żebbuġ), Wied Qirda (Siġġiewi) as well as quarrying in Mqabba and Kirkop. The natural (e.g. valleys, cliffs, etc) and historical-cultural resources (e.g. Torri Mamo, Batterija tal-Grazzja) present give the Plan area a particular character both in terms of conservation value as well as potential for public enjoyment, particularly with respect to landscape. In addition to the above other activities which are degrading the quality of the rural landscape include hunting and trapping, proliferation of boathouses (St. Thomas Bay), garage workshops and horse training tracks (in Siġġiewi and Żebbuġ), buildings alien to the rural context, scrapyards and micro industry.

Figure 4 : Indiscriminate illegal construction waste dumping is a problem in the area

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The ecological survey conducted in the Plan area identifies relatively small but concentrated areas of ecological and scientific value, particularly within valley systems and along the coast. Development has encroached on a number of sensitive areas, particularly in valley systems where quarrying activity and illegal dumping have scarred the landscape (e.g. Wied il-Kbir, Wied Moqbol). The geological and hydrological surveys for the plan area indicate a significant presence of valley systems in the plan area, which merits protection especially with regard to water resource management. Illegal dumping is another major problem in the plan area and the main areas under threat are the same valley systems and coastal areas. The valleys surrounding Siġġiewi, Żebbuġ and Qormi have been under pressure from indiscriminate dumping of construction waste and other forms of tipping. Background

It is the purpose of Local Plans to identify Areas of Ecological Importance and Sites of Scientific Importance and Areas of High Landscape Value (Policies RCO 3, RCO 10 and RCO 12) and Areas and Sites of Archaeological Importance (ARC 1 and ARC 2). The Local Plan area has pockets of afforested areas that are considered worthy of protection through the Tree Preservation Orders (Policies RCO 30 and 33). Policy MCO 1 proposes the area between St.Thomas Bay and Delimara Point as a Marine Conservation Area (MCA), which seeks to safeguard specific uses as well as the natural and cultural resources located there. Structure Plan POLICY RCO 4: The Planning Authority will not permit the development of any structure or activity, which in the view of the Authority would adversely affect scenic value because it would: 1. Break a presently undisturbed skyline 2. Visually dominate or disrupt its surroundings because of its mass or location 3. Obstruct a pleasant and particularly a panoramic view 4. Adversely affect any element of the visual composition - for example, cause the destruction or deterioration of traditional random stone walls 5. Adversely affect existing trees or shrubs 6. Introduce alien forms, materials, textures, or colours SMCO 03 Protection of AEIs and SSIs

The AEIs and SSIs identified in this policy include the coastal stretch between Xgħajra, Żabbar and Żonqor Point as well as: • Wied il-Għajn (Marsascala) • Maritime garigue communities along the coast from Tan-Nisa to Blata l-Bajda (Xgħajra) • Coastal cliffs at Għassa tal-Munxar (Marsascala) • Rocky coast from Xifer iċ-Ċerna to Il-Ponta tal-Miġnuna (Marsascala) • L-Ilsien to Għar ix-Xama’ (Marsascala In these protected areas/sites there will be a general presumption against development that would create negative impacts on these areas/ sites and the MEPA will endeavour to safeguard and protect AEIs and SSIs listed within this Local Plan.

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The SMLP acknowledges that “AEIs and SSIs are scheduled areas/sites that require protection from development because of their ecological and scientific value in that they contain special habitats that merit protection. Such protected areas/sites include also Garrigue and Maquis designations containing indigenous and archaeophytic species which contribute to the typical Mediterranean setting and are of considerable ecological value” SMCO 05 Promote and safeguard public access along the coast

MEPA will safeguard public access and encourage initiatives to rehabilitate the coastal stretch, in accordance with the characteristics of the areas, between Xgħajra and Marsascala, along St. Thomas Bay and the coastal cliffs from il-Borg ta’ Fulija to ta’ Melħa to Għar Ħasan as indicated in the relevant Policy Maps. Development that prohibits or restricts public use of the coast will not be permitted. The primary objective is to safeguard and promote the coast as a public open space. Due to the limited bathing areas in the plan area, it is important that the few areas available are retained for such use. Any developments along the coast which propose a reduction in the public use of the coast and jeopardise the sensitivity of such areas will not be allowed. SMCO 06: Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLVs)

The AHLVs identified in this policy include the area between Żonqor Point (Marsascala) and Blata lBajda (Xgħajra), including the entire area of the Żonqor location under discussion as a site for a new university campus. The Policy states: “MEPA designates the areas identified on the respective Policy Maps as Areas of High Landscape Value (AHLV) as per Section 46 of the Development Planning Act, 1992 and Structure Plan policy RCO There shall be a strong presumption against the creation of new built structures (including cultivation and animal husbandry related structures) in AHLVs.” The Policy also states: “These areas are essential as local recreational venues for the local populations as well as distinctive local open space lungs which help to impart a feeling of remoteness from the urban atmosphere which is so prevalent in the south of Malta.” SMCO 07 Valleys

Valley Protection Zones and valley watercourses are indicated on the Environmental Constraints Maps for the relevant localities. In line with the provisions of Policy RCO 29, there will be a presumption against any development within these areas that will adversely affect the function of the valley as an important water catchment area.

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OPEN SPACES AND SOCIAL JUSTICE Section 3


Section 3 : In Defence of Open Spaces and Social Justice Social equality NIFS is appealing to the Maltese government to safeguard ODZ in Żonqor Point and the rest of the country. This is particularly necessary in what is commonly referred to as the South of Malta because it is a location which hosted a number of heavy and polluting industrial establishments over the years, including the Dockyard in Cospicua, the Shipbuilding industry in Marsa, the power stations in Marsa and Delimara, the Malta Freeport in Birzebbugia, the Enemalta oil terminal facility in Birzebbugia, the sewage treatment plant at Ta’ Barkat, Xgħajra and the Waste Recycling Plant at Marsaskala.

Figure 5 : Air pollution in the South is a significant Health Hazard

It must also be said that this area is attached to Ħaż-Żabbar, the largest urban area at the Southern end of the island, and to Marsaskala, one of the fastest growing urban areas in the country. Consequently people live in congested built up areas, surrounded by arterial roads such as Żabbar Road and Hompesch Road, which, incidentally, was identified as a location with high particulate matter, a cause of breathing-related diseases. It is equally significant that both the Cottonera and the Marsa communities have suffered from excessive air pollution mainly due to the Marsa Power Station, grit blasting at the Dockyard and intense traffic. In her research on the Bormla

Marsa communities have suffered from excessive air pollution mainly due to the Marsa Power Station, grit blasting at the Dockyard and intense traffic. In her research on the Bormla community, Dr Josann Cutajar notes that a significant number of respondents believed that the air quality of Bormla is of bad quality. Wied il-Għajn still holds a stretch of un-built coastline and a green area. It is essential that this location be left untouched, as indicated in the 2006 Local Plan, and enjoyed as an eco-park. It is an open space that can serve to compensate for the damage already suffered by the communities of the area, whose residents require access to a better quality of life. Given the concentration of various heavy, manufacturing and energy related industries in the South, one can assume that a proportion of the residents were employed from the area and, consequently, it is likely that this community was made up of a larger number of working class individuals. The fact that the percentage of University graduates from Cottonera is lower than other areas supports this observation. The price of property in this part of the island is less expensive than it is in the North. Demographic traits indicate that there is most likely a greater concentration of working class residents in the South than in the North.

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All of this shows that there is a need to secure open spaces that can be enjoyed by the residents of this area, and: • make up for past policies concentrating most polluting industries in the South; • make up for the urbanized environment that has already developed in the area; • allow a free-of-charge leisure space for low income earners; • secure for future generations a green space that is important for people’s quality of life; • carry out a social impact assessment before embarking on any project in the area. If this open space is compromised by a building project, whatever this building is, it will push this community further into environmental poverty, i.e., little or no access to open and un-built public spaces. People who live too close to traffic and polluted streets and have little or no access to public, open, and un-built spaces are victims of environmental poverty.

Figure 6 : Żonqor - Xgħajra coastline - one of the last remaining stretches of unbuilt coast in the region

How can the opening of, for instance, new shopping and eating outlets, perhaps night-life clubs, compensate for the loss of open spaces? How will the millions promised to flourish in the South, as a direct result of this project, benefit the lower and skilled working class, who are the majority of residents in Marsascala and neighbouring communities? One cannot keep fostering jobs in the maintenance and cleaning services of these complexes as a sort of salvific offering for the people in the area. It is important also to note that the employer cannot be bound to employ people from the area only. There is a real concern that through mega-projects, such as the proposed American University of Malta, one can create a greater element of social inequity in the communities concerned, especially since the most obvious beneficiaries of such a project would not be those in the lower scales of social hierarchy. These people are also those who are going to afford the least when it comes to taking their children for a run or a walk in the countryside, or a picnic by the sea, or a swim in summer - activities that are still free and possible in the area. More buildings, more traffic and more visitors will restrict the open spaces, and it is those who can least afford it that will be hit the hardest. Residents require access to the countryside and the foreshore as a place of recreation for themselves and their children and have a right to enjoy these public goods without additional cost.

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The ‘trickle down’ effect Could mean that low income earners will not only remain so but will also have fewer chances of enjoying the clean air and open spaces with their families, especially with limited opportunities to travel to enjoy open spaces elsewhere. Maintaining free access to the present stretch of countryside, clean air and clear vistas guarantee environmental and social justice. If Żonqor Point remains a park as indicated in the Local Plan, it will secure ecological citizenship for present and future generations and maintain the integrity of the natural environment.

The agricultural industry

NIFS feels it is important for the farming community to be acknowledged for its hard work to sustain local communities, and to be given assistance for the future in this very precarious sector. The number of full time farmers is on the decline and some doubt the feasibility of farming in Malta. Hydrologists like Marco Cremona are critical because of the unsustainable use of water. However, the local farmer has to compete with, what is often seen as a harsh neo-liberal free trade economy. Unfortunately, without there being a genuine scope for farmers to know that their labour guarantees their families income and a future, they will always find it easier to sell off their property or give up their practice if they only have tenure of the land. NIFS, therefore, would like to encourage farmers the opportunity to preserve and develop their industry, skills and, in some cases, keep their land, but, at the same time, redirect their farming practices to more sustainable, local produce. Agriculture can be enhanced through the promotion

Figure 7 : Wheat fields at San Niklaw Chapel

promotion of local farmers’ markets, eco-tourism initiatives and farming festivals to celebrate their produce. It is, however, crucial that these initiatives rely on the support, approval and participation of the farmers in question. Encroaching further upon agricultural land is destroying the farming industry. Farmland contributes to the green landscape. In safeguarding the agricultural landscape, we are also saving open spaces, in this case, with the addition of obtaining fresh local produce thanks to the hard work of the farming community. Through direct competition with foreign markets, Maltese farmers often find themselves unable to sell their produce, with most Maltese opting to purchase imported vegetables, fruit and meat. Perhaps it is time that the farmers’ interests are protected, and a strong campaign encouraging purchase of local produce be organised. Despite the small scale of local production, it is still vital that we encourage and protect this practice. We can, in effect, monitor our own produce better than that obtained from elsewhere. Small though it may be in quantity, the local contribution to food distribution must be preserved to secure a lifeline of fresh food in the case that the importation of food is disrupted through unforeseen circumstances. Consequently, agricultural land must remain intact and cannot be seen as secondary to other forms of industry. .

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Inter-cultural Centre The phenomenon of multi-ethnic communities in Malta is growing, and the South is undergoing a transformation, too, not least because of the Marsa and Ħal Far Open Centres. In the Marsaskala Primary school, 20% are non-Maltese pupils, mostly from EU countries but also with a minority of Third Country Nationals. There is a greater mixture of nationalities in this school than that identified in the 2011 Malta National Census. The head master of the Marsaskala Primary school mentions a number of challenges that result from this situation, including communication and academic difficulties, problems of ‘culture shock’, and cultural baggage. The UNHCR notes that local integration in the country of asylum is a possible solution for refugee settlement. The Marsaskala primary head teacher supports the idea of integration, and agrees that an inter-cultural centre in the area can only help this cause. The issue of refugees, in Malta, needs to be seriously addressed and this regeneration project can help by offering a space for interaction between the local, Maltese community and the refugee community. A study about refugees who live in private accommodation by UNHCR and the Aditus foundation, shows that there is little social interaction between the refugees and the Maltese. Interaction mostly takes place at work, but there is hardly any interaction outside of work. In this research, refugees show a wish to introduce and exhibit aspects of their own culture to the Maltese, to explain their backgrounds. They mention ‘dancing’ and ‘multicultural feasts’ as examples of activities which they could be involved in. They also mention the fact that they would like to see more activities in which their children can interact with the local community. Consequently, there is a great need for an inter-cultural space that allows for interaction between the refugee and Maltese communities, and allows each to get to know the other and share cultures in a safe and enriching space. Education is a key in ensuring a peaceful and successful integration between the Maltese and the refugee migrant community in Malta.

The RIWAQProject – job creation through conservation NIFS does not merely object to development in ODZs, but is also offering an alternative to massive development projects that supposedly boost employment opportunities. The following is an example of a successful project in Palestine, a country that has all odds against it, but in which conservation projects are creating opportunities for job creation. The RIWAQ project was started by a team of architects which includes the renowned author Suad Amiry, who was invited to present the Maltese translation of her book ‘Sharon And My Mother-In-Law’ to the Prime Minister on Friday 24th April 2015. Due to the second intifada in September 2000, thousands of Palestinian workers found themselves jobless because they were kept from reaching Figure 8 : Fort Manoel, Manoel Island. An excellent example of architectural conservation.

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reaching their workplaces in areas in the Green Line in the West Bank. Architectural restoration provided an alternative employment opportunity for these workers, allowing them to acquire new skills which enhanced their employability prospects. Restoration is very labour intensive, and relies on skilled and unskilled manual work. It also demands the use of local materials and the application of local architectural design. This project supports the workers and their families and communities, and has promoted a sense of community. The restoration projects have become sites for the production of knowledge and the revival of techniques and skills that had been lost. More importantly, the end product of these projects has recreated a common space. The concept of restoration applies not only to the restoration of buildings but also to agricultural and natural areas. The ODZ in Ĺťonqor Point can be developed into a public space rather than be sacrificed to arbitrary destruction in the name of progress. The European Social Fund may indeed help in supporting this architectural restoration project.

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HEALTH IMPACTS OF OPEN SPACES AND URBANISATION Section 4


Section 4 : Health Impacts of Open Spaces and Urbanisation Definition of Health The Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948 defines health as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The Definition has not been amended since 1948.

Definition of Environmental Health The Helsinki Declaration, 2nd European Conference on Environment and Health, 1994 defined Environmental Health as follows: “Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health including quality of life that are determined by the physical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in the environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially affect adversely the health of present and future generations.”

Health Concerns in South-East Malta The South-East area of Malta has been a focus for scientific medical studies because of pointers showing that it is an area of potential health concern.

Obesity, Eating Habits, Lack of Exercise Obesity is the epidemic of the 21st century.

The Food Consumption Survey of 2010, done by the Malta Standards Authority, shows that according to the Body Mass Index Maltese men are the fattest and that Maltese women are the third fattest in Europe. When the national data is analysed according to region the average Body Mass Index in the South-East is the highest - 28.124 kg/ m2 and the second highest average BMI is from the region south of the Harbour Area - 27.966 kg/ m2. Obesity is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer and asthma. Nationwide, deaths from cardiovascular events accounted for around one-fifth of all deaths in the Maltese Islands in 2008. 7.7% of Maltese have type 2 diabetes mellitus. In the past years deaths from cancer accounted for about one-fourth of all deaths in the Maltese Islands. Obesity is the consequence of eating and exercise habits on one’s genome. The Health Interview Survey of 2008, done by the Department of Health, showed that only 22% of males and only 31% of females changed their eating habits in the previous three years. Additionally only 18% of males and 11% of females exercise at least once a week.

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Figure 9 : Malta repeatedly ranks amongst the highest in the EU when it comes to obesity

females changed their eating habits in the previous three years. Additionally only 18% of males and 11% of females exercise at least once a week.

Emissions from fossil fuels Successive ambient air quality assessments had shown trends in emissions of Particulates, Nitrogen Oxides and Sulphur Dioxide that substantiated the decision to have 2 out of 4 national fixed air monitoring stations to be located in the South-East region (Kordin and Ĺťejtun). They are witness of the concern to know what is occurring in this area in respect of harmful emissions coming from man-made sources: combustion of fuel in the generation of electricity and in vehicular traffic. The results of air monitoring stations indicate that: - nitrogen oxides are on the rise due to increasing traffic, and that this pollutant may be a problem in localities where heavy traffic and poor ventilation prevail. - high levels of PM10. Air pollution epidemiology has shown a broad range of health outcomes, ranging from minor changes to mortality: unnoticed physiological changes, symptoms, use of medication, restricted activity and reduced performance, visits to doctor, emergency department visits, hospital admissions and premature mortality. Particulates are of prime health concern. Initially the respiratory effects on people with asthma and with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) had been well studied and well-documented. COPD is envisaged to become among the 5 most prevalent diseases in the next years. Later on, evidence of cardiovascular effects started to be increasingly studied and documented; the high-risk groups for cardiovascular effects of ambient air pollution are the elderly, people with pre-existing coronary heart disease or high blood pressure, people with diabetes, people with COPD and people exercising in environments pervaded by air contaminants. 49


The Respiratory Health of citizens in South-East Malta The high incidence and prevalence of asthma in the Maltese Islands had been well documented over the years, especially in children. The Maltese data of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Children done by Profs. S. Montefort, Dr. H. Lenicker, Dr. S. Caruana, Dr. H. Agius Muscat show that nationwide in 6-7 year old children diagnosed asthma rose from 7.5% in 1994 to 14.8% in 2001, diagnosed rhinitis rose from 14.7% in 1994 to 22.2% in 2001 and diagnosed eczema rose from 4.4% in 1994 to 11.2% in 2001. The increases were seen in all the regions analysed in the study. Children were more likely to wheeze if living in roads with heavy traffic. The ISAAC study also analysed what is happening for older children. The study shows that nationwide in 13-14 year old children diagnosed asthma rose from 11.1% in 1995 to 14.1% in 2002, diagnosed rhinitis rose from 32.3% in 1994 to 40.7% in 2002 and diagnosed eczema rose from 8.8% in 1995 to 11.5% in 2002. The areas with the highest prevalence in both years were the Central North region and the Grand Harbour region. Children were more likely to wheeze if living in roads with heavy traffic.

But 10 years ago, the respiratory health of citizens in South-East Malta had attracted attention due to rising admission rates for people with asthma from villages and towns in the area. Hence, the European Community Respiratory Health Survey 2001 was commissioned by Fgura and Żejtun Local Councils from Dr Martin Balzan and Dr Jason Bonnici. The study showed that the adult residents of Fgura and Żejtun had amongst the highest rates in the world for symptoms of asthma and nasal allergies. The study showed that 1 in 8 individuals in Fgura and 1 in 10 individuals in Żejtun had been diagnosed by their doctor as having asthma; that 1 in 4 individuals in Fgura and 1 in 5 individuals in Żejtun had asthma symptoms; and that 1 in 2 individuals in Fgura and 1 in 3 individuals in Żejtun had nasal allergies. This first part of the study showed that the prevalence of all symptoms was consistently higher in the urban area which is traversed by a major artery of traffic. Subsequently, the second part of the study in Fgura and Żejtun established that living close to a main traffic artery increases the risk of asthma related symptoms. In fact 3 areas within 250 m of the main traffic artery showed higher levels of asthma-related symptoms when compared to the area which was 250 -500 m away from the main traffic artery.

The Natural Environment The natural environment is an essential requirement for holistic human health: physical, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

Impact on human health There are a number of mechanisms by which nature positively improves human health: • recovery from stress/attention fatigue • exercise • social contact • children’s development • personal development in adults

Levels of engagement with nature There are different levels of engagement with nature: 1) Viewing nature • Through a window • In a painting or photograph 2) Incidental exposure to nearby nature • Walking • Cycling to work • Sitting in garden or park 3) Active participation • Gardening, farming • Trekking, camping • Cross-country running and walking • Horse-riding, fishing 50


The Concept of “Green Exercise” Physical Activity is known to have positive effects on physical and mental health

Figure 10 : The advent of social media has allowed large groups of people to form and regularly go hiking in the countryside, increasing appreciation of the countryside

Exposure to Nature is known to have positive effects on mental health. The concept of “Green Exercise” refers to research on the extent to which physical activity in the presence of green space affects mental and physical well-being.

Urbanisation Urbanization occurs naturally from individual and corporate efforts to reduce time and expense in commuting and transportation while improving opportunities for jobs, education, housing, and transportation. Living in cities permits individuals and families to take advantage of the opportunities of proximity, diversity, and marketplace competition. As more and more people leave villages and farms to go and live in cities, urban growth results.

Land use The CORINE 2000 Land Cover Map identified how land is used in our Islands. Human intervention means that 23% of the land in built up as urban area, 49% is used as agricultural land and 1.2% is used for extracting minerals, totaling almost three-quarters of the land. Natural areas consist of 22% as natural vegetation and 0.9% as forests, totaling less than a quarter of the land. Green urban areas make up only 0.5%. Our urban sprawl has meant that built up land has increased from 6% in 1905 to 23% in 2000. Urban sprawl is largely irreversible. Urban areas are now visible from 90% of the territory. 21% of the coastline no longer retains its natural form. 43% of our 193-km coastline is intensely utilised. 4,500 Hectares of agricultural land have been lost to development in the past two generations and agricultural land is still being lost, at a rate of 80 hectares per year.

Demographic changes Demography is one of the principal drivers of environmental change, affecting demand for housing, transport, minerals, energy and water production. The highest population growth rates in the intercensal period were in the seaside resort towns of Marsaskala (96 percent) and St. Paul’s Bay (81 percent), while localities close to the harbour lost most population. The continued movement of population from older urban areas into newer coastal settlements is a matter of concern as it represents inefficient use of both dwellings and land. In 2008, Malta’s population density was at 1,309 persons per square kilometre (km2), increasing by 109 persons per km2 since 1995. Population density changes between 1995 and 2005 reflect the trends noted above regarding internal Migration.

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Figure 11 : Malta is quite literally off the charts when it comes to both population density and % of land cover in total area

Effects of urbanisation on health Urbanisation has traditionally been associated with positive effects on health because it provides ready access to health care, allows for sanitation services and standards, and secures nutrition. But urbanization has in recent decades been more and more associated with negative effects on health such as overcrowding, pollution, social deprivation, crime, stress-related illness and the urban heat island effect. Urbanisation can affect the following: Cancer. Analyses of cancer rates show the expected urban/rural differences for many digestive, urinary and respiratory organ cancers, female breast cancer and childhood leukaemia. Psychiatric Disorders. In high income countries, the pooled urban prevalence rate for both any disorder (38% higher), mood disorders (39%) and anxiety disorders (21%) was higher in urban areas compared with rural areas. Schizophrenia, psychosis and depression are known to occur more frequently in urban areas. Cardiovascular disease. Greater longevity and affluent socio-economic factors are accompanied by an increasing burden of cardiovascular disease with an important decrease in quality of life. There is a strong epidemiological association between air pollution and cardiovascular disease: Myocardial infarcts and hospital admissions for Ischemic Heart Disease after both acute as well as chronic exposure to air pollution. There is a strong epidemiological association between cardiovascular disease and low levels of exercise, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, smoking and high blood pressure. Obesity. Personal, neighbourhood and urban factors are associated with obesity. Eating disorders. The incidence of bulimia nervosa showed a dose-response relation with degree of urbanisation. Allergies and asthma. Urbanisation with its high levels of vehicle emissions and westernised lifestyle parallels the increase in respiratory allergy in most industrialised countries. Hospitalisation of the elderly due to high temperatures in cities. The “urban heat island” effect has become a growing concern. The “urban heat island” effect is formed when industrial and urban areas are developed and heat becomes more abundant. In rural areas, a large part of the incoming solar energy is used to evaporate water from vegetation and soil. In cities, where less vegetation and 52


exposed soil exists, the majority of the sun’s energy is absorbed by urban structures and asphalt. During warm daylight hours, less evaporative cooling in cities allows surface temperatures to rise higher than in rural areas. Additional city heat is given off by vehicles and factories, as well as by industrial and domestic heating and cooling units. This effect causes the city to become 2 to 10o F (1 to 6o C) warmer than surrounding landscapes. Impacts also include reducing soil moisture and intensification of carbon dioxide emissions.

Figure 12 : Population density change - 2007 data (NSO). Note Marsascala as one of the highest in density change.

Figure 13 : Decline in population defined as 'rural' in the coming decades (data obtained from UNHabitat)

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Figure 14 : Malta ranks 9th in urbanisation figures worldwide

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TOURISM AND THE AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCE Section 5


Section 5: Tourism and the authentic experience What is tourism? Tourism comprises “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes” (World Tourism Organisation, WTO, 2008, p. 121). Cooper et al. (2008) state that tourism is an activity of global importance and significance as it is a major force on the world s economy. However, it may also bring about negative impacts on the environment and culture of host destinations.

The impact of tourism on Malta Tourism has increasingly become the backbone of Malta’s economy and thus must be cultivated if we are to continue to reap its benefits. The 2014 economic impact report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that in 2013, travel and tourism directly contributed 13.6% of Malta s GDP, which in 2014 was expected to rise by 5.6%. With regards to employment, the same industry directly generated 14.8% of total employment, which translates to 25,500 jobs (WTTC, 2014). It must however be underlined that tourism does not only carry positive and desirable effects. It has repeatedly been shown by research that the influx of tourists who crowd the streets, countryside and towns of Malta and Gozo brings with it a number of pressures, all sorts of pollution and nuisances to the locals. This does not however mean that Malta should do away with tourism or that this activity is essentially negative and should be shunned. On the contrary, with the application of intelligent Figure 15 : Tourism in Malta - combination of favourable strategies, tourists can be attracted to our climate and cultural heritage country while being kept under control to cause the least adverse impact as possible. At the same time visitors, too, expect that when they visit a country, a site or an attraction they get their money’s worth as also the experience that they expect from the visit. It is up to the host community to see that these desires are satisfied but that at the same time the interests of the same hosts are safeguarded. One speaks today of sustainable tourism which implies that the touristic activity is at the same time one of benefit to both visitor and host. One way to achieve this is to strive to offer an authentic experience which is appreciated by the visitor and impacts as little as possible the locals providing it. Authentic experiences incorporate the realities which the hosts value and hold dear. These may be customs, traditions, cultural expressions, language, values, cultural habitats, as well as the natural environment, the flora and fauna and all those other elements which distinguish one community or society from another. It is through the safeguarding of all that is truly Maltese that the Maltese can offer a strong touristic experience. Anything less will lead to a decrease in that same experience which our visitors are seeking. It becomes a disneyfication of reality, a commodisation aimed at the tourist but which, in fact, dilutes the touristic offer instead of strengthening it.

What are the main motivations for visiting Malta? Research has identified what are the main motivations for visiting the Maltese Islands.

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Figure 16 : The Main Motivations for Choosing Malta

What does the tourist coming to Malta look for once here? Research has shown that tourist participation in cultural activities is very high.

Figure 17 : Tourist Participation in Cultural Activities

Tourists who do not come to Malta just for the sea, the sun and the sand, would want to come in touch with the land and its people. They value authenticity and recognise it when they come across it. They appreciate, and look for, the vernacular and historical architecture, the typical street corners, the particular smells, the open spaces, the natural landscape, the characteristic sounds, the people living their everyday lives, and the many other peculiarities that one can define as ‘Maltese’. When tourists come to the south of Malta they should not be given what the north already offers. They do not need to live an experience which they can already encounter in other parts of the island. The beauty of a touristic experience is linked to the variety of the touristic product on offer. If the south of Malta offers more of the same, then there is no need for tourists to go to the south. If the south offers open natural spaces, with less built-up areas, then that is what should be brought forward, safeguarded and enhanced through conservation and intelligent reuse. Buildings, such as the many military installations that dot the south, should be the attractions on offer. The ‘wild’, relatively untouched landscape would be another charm that gives an opportunity to show what the Maltese countryside is made of. The old/historic buildings that one finds spread around the area are also possibilities that can be utilised by using them intelligently. 59


This is what makes a sustainable tourism product. The south can offer such a product, and it should not lose the opportunity to so. This has the potential to attract tourists in numbers that are contained and which are rational and reasonable enough not to exceed the carrying capacity. More does not always mean better; it may at times result in exactly the opposite. For its own benefit and that of its residents the south needs sustainable tourist numbers and it is still in time to achieve this goal. It will prove of benefit both in the short term as also in the long term.

Figure 18 : The characteristic landscape of the area is an attraction to tourists

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EXISTING OPPORTUNITIES Section 6


Section 6 : Existing Opportunities This section outlines a series of sites that are opportunities for activities compatible with the sustainable enjoyment of the rural landscape of the San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni area. It is followed by a section that lists a number of desirable uses and activities that need further evaluation as to their feasibility.

Agriculture and Farmland Area Farmland and agriculture are the core, heart and soul of the area. The fields and farms are of good quality and have been tilled for generations. A substantial proportion of the fields is tilled by full-time farmers and the majority by part-time farmers. The size of the land tilled varies between farmers, irrespective of whether they are full-time or part-time. Many of the farmers have tilled their land all their life. Most of the land has been tilled by successive generations of farmers in the family. The rural area is providing the livelihood of young people who want to continue the family tradition to till the land. The fields produce potatoes, clover, olives, grapes, broad beans, cabbages, wheat and strawberries. The farms have cows, pigs and sheep. A horse ranch is within the area too. The fields and the farms are of landscape value to the visitor to the area and of economic benefit to the community and country. Farms may soon be the only way for children of these islands to observe animals in a natural context and the way of life of living within natural surroundings. Another section is this document describes how this proposal aims to create more value to the agribusiness industry of the area by introducing concepts that provide farmers with the opportunity to have a far better earning model. Nowadays there are remarkable examples of farms getting richer, from both the earning model and the ecosystem point of views. A smaller proportion of the fields are unused agricultural land. In one way this would be nature’s way to get back the land used by humans, gradually changing it into garigue, our richest ecological habitat. On the other hand on the continent unused agricultural land is being termed fringefarming. Fringefarming is used as an economic asset in itself, and acts as a buffer to protect the unused agricultural land. It promotes the ecological connection between all stakeholders in agriculture maximizing each to their potential and providing win-win situations to all involved. A step in the right direction is to encourage eco-effective entrepreneurship amongst the community of peasants and farmers. In eco-effective entrepreneurship entrepreneurs cooperate with life. The entrepreneur creates favourable conditions for natural processes and natural processes create favourable conditions for the entrepreneur. They team up together. This creates, simultaneously, economic values and environmental values - both are responsible for each other and natural processes create favourable ecological connections between all stakeholders in agriculture. Each cell divides, all life creates more life and more resources in a very energy-efficient way. The eco-effective entrepreneur makes use of these conditions that occur naturally by optimizing these conditions by using the principles of photosynthesis, symbiosis, food-chains, succession and dynamics. In this more live mass can be developed aboveground as well as under-ground, more resources and more food. Additionally soil has a role in mitigating climate change. Soil absorbs carbon from the air. This is termed carbon sequestration, which can actually be measured. Removing carbon dioxide from the air reduces one of the gases involved in air quality issues. This is similar to what trees and plants do (absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen by photosynthesis). Large tracts of agricultural and natural landscapes play a very important role in climate change mitigation; artificial landscaping is no substitute for this. Figure 19 : Torri tal-Wiesgħa

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Coastal Towers and Entrenchment Lines The most common kind of defence heritage at Xgħajra is that of the coastal type. This seems to have been dictated by the geo-strategical characteristics of the locality, due to its crucial positioning between the harbours of Valletta and Marsaxlokk. The shallow nature of the waters along the Xgħajra coast has also made it an ideal landing place for an enemy who wished to land there. For such reasons, the Knights of St. John built three coastal towers at Delle Grazie (demolished) and at Triq il-Wiesgħa in Xgħajra, and the Żonqor Coastal Tower at the tip of the Żonqor peninsula (demolished). Later on, the Knights enclosed the full length of the coast by a continuous line of entrenchment flanked all along by a rock-cut ditch. The de Redin Tower was ordered by Grand Master de Redin and is similar in design to the other 13 towers built at the time. It is square in plan, two storey tall and has scarped walls at the lower level. People from the area say that it was damaged during World War II by the first WWII warplane to be hit and eventually crash on the islands. This coastal tower has been recently restored. (Information obtained from Survey of Defence Heritage Xgħajra Locality, Malta by Mario Farrugia, 1996)

Coast Artillery Forts A number of coast artillery forts were built by the British in this area during the late 19th century. These are Fort St. Rocco at Wied Ghammieq armed with 3 guns, Delle Grazie Battery, built on the spot of the same namesake tower and armed with 4 guns, and Fort San Leonardo, also armed with 4 guns. Delle Grazie Battery is a coastal battery on a polygonal system built in a low lying manner and surrounded by a continuous dry ditch. Delle Grazie Battery is currently used by the Xgħajra Local Council. (Information obtained from Survey of Defence Heritage Xgħajra Locality, Malta by Mario Farrugia, 1996)

Anti-Aircraft Defences Anti-Aircraft defence is well represented at Xgħajra by 2 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries of the 4.5 inch and 3.7 inch type. In conjunction with these are also an Anti-Aircraft Searchlight and Sound Locator emplacements at Delle Grazie Battery. All of these were built just before World War II. (Information obtained from Survey of Defence Heritage Xgħajra Locality, Malta by Mario Farrugia, 1996)

. Zonqor Point Swimming Pool

The Żonqor Point ex-national swimming pool is currently used by Marsaskala’s waterpolo club. The premises are also used by Marsaskala’s football club for its meetings.

Wartime Beach Defences and Reserve Lines The British set up a number of constructions to form part of the Wartime Beach Defences and Reserve Lines. By 1938, the British realized that if there was to be another global war, Italy would be on the other side. They constructed rows of concrete Pillboxes to help slow down invasion if it ever happened. Hence, beach-posts armed with machine-guns and small arms were built at a distance of about 200 metres apart. At their back and at some distance, another line of pillboxes was formed to serve as a reserve line. (Information obtained from Survey of Defence Heritage Xgħajra Locality, Malta by Mario Farrugia, 1996)

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Figure 20 : Beach Defenses can be seen along the coast

Id-Dar tal-Barunessa (Il-Kunvent ta’ San Leonardu)

Figure 21 : Dar tal-Barunessa

The convent of San Leonardo, known better as Id-Dar tal-Barunessa dates back to the early 17th century, possibly having more ancient origins. Apart from attaining considerable historic significance, the building and adjoining estate have significant architectural and landscape value. A chapel to St Leonard existed here since 1656 and was constructed by one Leonardu Sammut hailing from the Grand Harbour city of Vittoriosa, dedicating it to his namesake saint and furnishing it at his own expense. In the early 20th century it was acquired by a Sicilian aristocrat, Maria Cafici Casolani, a Baroness of Calaforno and Tummarello, Lady of Passaneto, wife of Gugliemo Casolani. It has been suggested that the present building complex was originally intended to be used as convent however nothing came of this and was subsequently acquired by private parties, using it for residential purposes. In time the whole area was named after the chapel. A number of older residents in the neighbourhood still remember the aged baroness climbing into a mule-drawn carriage whilst being attended to by her servants. Baronessa Cafici Casolani passed away just before World War II but the chapel remained in use for a number of years afterwards. Mass was celebrated in St Leonard subsequently until well after the war, one resident even claiming he was the sacristan.

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By the early seventies the entire complex was closed up and in 1978 a popular local television series known as Id-Dar tas-Soru was produced using the exterior of the edifice for filming purposes. Since then the complex has been subject to repeated looting and vandalism, and is in a state of decay and dereliction.

Figure 22 : Excerpt from Perit Edward Said's report, suggesting possible uses for Dar talBarunessa

In 2009, the complex with its grounds was officially listed as a Grade 2 monument by the Malta Environmental and Planning Authority. (Information obtained from A Technical Report in Survey and Assessment submitted by Edward Said towards the degree of Master of Science in the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes at the University of Bath, 2011-12)

Site of the San Leonardo P. F. Station The San Leonardo P. F. Station featured in a number of maps about The Convent of San Leonardo, known better as Id-Dar tal-Barunessa marks the Victorian Path Finding Station consisting of a group of rooms serving military functions together with an adjacent shooting range.

Wayside Shrine of 3 Crosses (Triq il-Bidni, Marsaskala) Period: Early Modern - Knights of St John (1530 -1798). This wayside shrine is 12 courses high and bears a relief of 3 crosses on a pedestal. The central cross has the "INRI" sign in relief and a number of tools hanging from the cross-bar. A modern image of Christ the Redeemer has been placed in a square-hole between two of the crosses. There a number of legends connected with this shrine. One story mentions that it was setup after three monks were murdered by a Turk. Another legend recounts that it commemorates the death of a man from Żejtun after a bout of plague, while yet another one recalls the death of an old hermit living in the area (Muscat Azzopardi). Can. Joe Abela explains that the three crosses symbolise the boundary of the Żabbar and Żejtun parishes from which Marsaskala emerged as a new parish in 1615. It also marks the spot where three priests were buried after the 1813 plague.

Figure 23 : Three Crosses in Bidni

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SHC Inventory Number: 1722. (Information obtained from Superintendence of Cultural Heritage Online Directory)

Kappella tal-Madonna tad-Dawl (Triq il-Bidni, Marsaskala) Period: Early Modern - Knights of St John (1530 - 1798). Originally dedicated to St John the Baptist, the chapel became popularly known “tal- Madonna tad-Dawl” because of its titular painting depicting the Madonna, dating back from 1737. This titular painting is flanked by two smaller paintings of St Joseph and the Madonna respectively, along with a number of ex-votos. The chapel was rebuilt in 1758. It has an arched doorway with an oval oculum above it. Its small exterior belfry has S-scroll decoration topped by a triangular pediment with a cross on the pinnacle. The chapel has a painting of St Francis de Paule , the work of Maltese artist Francesco Zahra. SHC Inventory Number: 1723 (Information obtained from Superintendence of Cultural Heritage Online Directory) Figure 24 : Madonna tad-Dawl chapel

Kappella ta’ Sant’Antnin ta’ Padova (Triq il-Wied, Marsaskala) – Under Marsaskala Parish Period: Early Modern - Knights of St John (1530-1798) This baroque style chapel was built by Dun Andrea Pollidano. The façade has a square doorway flanked by a Doric pilaster on each side. The pilasters support an entablature with S-scrolls on each side, which in turn hold an open pediment, in the centre of which one finds an incomplete coat of arms. It has two pyramids on each side of the parapet, with an exterior belfry buttressed by Sscrolls. The church stands on an elevated parvis which is reached by a flight of 6 steps. Inside the church there is a small statue of St Anthony which has a loop at the back, as sailors used to hang it on their tunny net to ensure blessing during the tuna fishing season. It was also used by those praying for rain, who would lower the statue in their well expecting the miracle. The church also boasts a number of silver ex-votos. Small loaves of bread are distributed during a feast which is still held in the Church on 13th June 13. SHC Inventory Number: 1737 (Information obtained from Superintendence of Cultural Heritage Online Directory)

. Kappella ta’ San Nikola (Marsaskala) – Under Zabbar Parish Period: Early Modern - Knights of St John (1530 - 1798)

It is know that actually two chapels dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari existed in the area till the 1650s. In his pastoral visit which took place in 1659, Bishop Balaguer ordered both of them closed as they were on the verge of collapse. The one still standing today, known as “Tas-Subricint”, was rebuilt by John Baptist Azzopardi Barbara. The first stone was laid and blessed on July 10, 1759 by Rev. John Mary Azzopardi. SHC Inventory Number: 1741 (Information obtained from Superintendence of Cultural Heritage Online Directory) 68


Figure 25 : San Niklaw chapel

Possible Roman Feature – Cistern? A small circular feature, possibly the opening of a cistern, has been recently noted along the Żonqor coast close to the Knight’s period entrenchment wall. Observation by Superintendence of Cultural Heritage still needs to be carried out. (Information obtained from Trump (2010) and Evans (1971)

Figure 26: The uncovered cistern

Dolmen and megalithic remains at Xghara tal-Bidni, Marsaskala The existence of the so-called “Bidni dolmen” was first reported by Zammit and Rizzo in M.A.R. of 1914-1915. It lies on the rocky plateau known as “Ix-Xagħra tal-Bidni”, to the south east of Żabbar, c. 100km from Tad-Dawl Church. Described by Trump as ‘small but characteristic’ (Trump 2010:83), its capstone is c. 2.60m long and 1.75m wide, with an average thickness of 0.30m. It is supported on three sides and open to the west. One the East and South sides, steps in the rock have been integrated in the chamber. The capstone was at one point pierced by a hole , weakening it and causing it to split and collapse to the interior of the chamber, which according to Evans (1971:197) must have been c. 0.90m high. In the vicinity of the dolmen, there are also remains of a Megalithic wall. These remains have been scheduled as a Class B Site of Archaeological importance.

. . . Circular field called ic-Cirku, Triq il-Bidni, Zabbar (Information obtained from Trump (2010) and Evans (1971)

The circular feature commonly known as “iċ-Ċirku” is situated 300km west of Tad-Dawl Church. Trump (2010:83) does not believe that is a Roman amphitheatre as it was commonly believed in the past but rather a Karstic depression like the ones found at il-Maqluba and Qawra. The feature has been schedules as Class B Site of Archaeological Importance and a Level 2 Site of Scientific Importance (Geomorphology). (Information obtained from Trump (2010) and Evans (1971)

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. The Maritime Fringe between Zonqor Point and Xghajra The coastal strip between Żonqor Point and Xgħajra is the area of greatest ecological and biological conservation value. Our flora and vegetation are assets to the Maltese identity and provide a uniqueness that is to be prized. They are described in more detail in another section. The coastal area is also of great scientific importance from the geological and geo-morphological aspects. The stretch of coastline from Xgħajra to Marsascala presents a unique coastal karst landscape that has disappeared in other parts of the Maltese islands due to insensitive overdevelopment. This short stretch of coast displays several erosional and depositional features that hold a record of the fluctuating sea level rise and fall, and has features of extreme wave events that could be correlated with earthquake records in other parts of the Mediterranean. There are also pockets of Holocene deposits sandwiched in the rock, (as paleo-fissures) that date from a previous high pluvial period during the valley formation of the islands. The whole area encompasses several classic text book geomorphological features such as fully formed and collapsed dolines, wave cut platforms, paleo infills in tectonic rock discontinuities, sagging sea caves and others.

Area from Swali Caves to reef

The Swali Caves are a magnificent network of caverns that line the coastal edge of the area. The site is linked with a number of tragic events retold in story form over generations. The nearby reefs are breeding grounds for traditional catches of fish. Close by are 2 popular shipwrecks. These are the French liner/troopship, Le Polynesien, and the British warship HMS Southwold. The marine aspect is covered in more detail in another section.

Figure 27 : The coastal network of caves known as 'IsSwali'

Salt Pans Salt Pans that extend across much of the foreshore from Xgħajra to Żonqor point have provided the surrounding communities with salt over many generations. The salt pans are of historical and folklore importance, and an integral component of the cultural landscape, that stand as a testimony of the interaction between humans and their environment over the centuries. Boulders that have been displaced by storms and that have come to rest on some of these salt pans are also presently being investigated as part of a wider study by an international team of researchers, which is seeking to shed more light on past storm and tsunami events. The examples that have come to rest on salt pans are particularly interesting because they may provide crucial dating evidence for the events that displaced the boulders.

Sustainable restoration Introduction The previous section proposes opportunities to reuse existing built infrastructure within the San Anard, San Niklaw and Bidni Rural Landscape area and goes on to recommend potential uses that support and enhance the proposed vision. Physical interventions for the restoration and change of use of buildings and supporting facilities should be carried out in line with best practice standards to ensure that the life cycle impacts on the environment are mitigated as far as possible and to maximise the social, economic and environmental quality of the delivered building.

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The following summarises headline criteria to achieve this aim. The criteria should be explored in more detail applying European Directives and international voluntary environmental assessment methods that set targets and standards and ensure that measures are quantifiable and reported during design, construction and operation.

Sustainable design and construction principals The restoration of existing buildings within the area in question should be carried out applying the following best practice measures during construction and operation: Ecology: The ecological value with the footprint and in the immediate vicinity of the building is protected and enhanced and measures are in place for long term management of such features; Sustainable drainage: Measures are in place to prevent water pollution during restoration works and when the building is occupied. Sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) should be in place to manage rainwater run-off; Water conservation: Potable water consumption is limited through the specification of hydroefficient fittings and through measures to reuse rain and waste water; Energy conservation and carbon dioxide emissions: Energy consumption is limited through the enhancement of existing and new passive design measures, energy efficient systems and renewable energy generation technology in order to limit the additional servicing infrastructure and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; Air quality: Sources of local air pollution are limited and contained wherever possible, e.g. dust sheets during construction, managed and limited deliveries during construction, no ODP and GWP gases on site, limited NOx emissions, etc.; Occupant health and wellbeing: The health and wellbeing of occupants of said buildings is safeguarded through measures that guarantee high levels of air, visual and acoustic quality, thermal comfort, limited Volatile Organic Compounds, adaptable and accessible spaces, as well as early and continuous consultation, wherever possible.

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FLORA AND VEGETATION Section 7


Section 7 : The Flora and Vegetation of . the Maritime Fringe between Zonqor Point and Xghajra Introduction A survey of the coastal stretch from Żonqor to Xgħajra was carried out on the 10th and 18th April 2015 in order to evaluate the flora and vegetation of the site. The aim of this exercise is not to produce a complete inventory of the species present; this would require visits throughout all the seasons. Rather the study was aimed at identifying the chief plant communities and the most significant species. The survey was limited to the coastal strip since this is the part of the area of greatest ecological and biological conservation value. The vegetation falls into two types: a. The coastal shrublands supporting typical coastal vegetation with plants which are highly tolerant of salinity and drought. b. Vegetation typical of disturbed coastal habitats which occurs along the paths. These two vegetation types intergrade where they meet. The coastal shrublands are mainly dominated by the Golden Samphire (M: Xorbett; Limbarda crithmoides) with the sporadic presence of Sea Samphire (M: Busbies il-Baħar; Crithmum maritimum). These are accompanied by low shrublets such as the Sea Heath (M: Erba Franka; Frankenia hirsuta) and Rock Crosswort (M: Krucanella; Crucianella rupestris) as well as annual herbs such as the two species of Iceplant (M: Kristallina; Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum and Mesembryanthemum crystallinum), Sea Hard-grass (M: Nokkli; Parapholis incurva) and the endemic Maltese SeaChamomile (M: Bebbuna tal-Baħar; Anthemis urvilleana). A most prominent species of the transitional zone is the Tree Mallow (M: Ħobbejża tas-Siġra; Malva arborea), A tall semi-woody shrub which is highly tolerant of both salinity and disturbance. The more disturbed areas support a large variety of more or less weedy species, a selection of which is given in the species list at the end of this document.

Species of high conservation value Palaeocyanus crassifolius (= Cheirolophus crassifolius, Centaurea spathulata). M: Widnet il-Baħar; E: Maltese Centaury, Maltese Rock-centaury. Endemic to the Maltese Islands and recognised as Malta’s National Plant in 1971. Rare, being normally confined to cliffs. Finding this plant at Xgħajra came as a surprise since the closest site where this plant grows naturally is in the Bengħisa area; moreover the type of community where it was found growing is not typical of this species since, as stated, this is a cliff species. Only one specimen was seen. Salsola melitensis (= Darniella melitensis) M: Xebb, Siġra tal-Irmied; E: Maltese Salt-tree. Endemic to the Maltese Islands. Frequent on coastal cliff along the western, southern and eastern coasts of Malta, much of Gozo, Kemmuna and some of the smaller islets; occasionally also inland on hillsides, particularly in Gozo. Anthemis urvilleana M: Bebbuna tal-Baħar; E: Maltese Sea-chamomile. Endemic to the Maltese Islands. Common in coastal habitats. A small annual2 herb3. Desmazeria pignattii M: Żwien ta’ Malta; E: Pignatti’s Fern-grass. Sub-endemic4; being found in the Maltese Islands and SE Sicily (Provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa). Uncommon; mainly confined to low-lying rocky coastal habitats. A small annual grass which is easily overlooked. Jacobaea maritima subsp. sicula M: Kromb il-Baħar Isfar; E: Sicilian Silvery Ragwort. Sub-endemic; being found in some small islands around Sicily and the Maltese Islands. Frequent, especially close to the sea and, quite often, also inland. Until recently, the plants had been referred to Senecio bicolor in works pertaining to the Maltese flora and ecology.

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Crucianella rupestris M: Kruċanella; E: Maltese Crosswort. A species with a restricted geographical distribution being confined to the SE of the Mediterranean, the south of Sicily, the Maltese Islands and Lampedusa. A strictly coastal species tied to both low-lying rocky coasts as well as cliffs. Sporobolus pungens M: Niġem tar-Ramel; E: Mediterranean Dropseed. Rare and normally restricted to coastal sand-dunes, a habitat which, in Malta, is very rare and fragile. In fact several species restricted to sand-dunes have disappeared over the past four decades. The presence of this species in a non-sand-dune habitat is unusual. Mesembryanthemum crystallinum . M: Kristallina Kbira; E: Iceplant. Rare and restricted to coastal habitats. The Xgħira-Żonqor stretch represents the only large population in the Maltese Islands; elsewhere it only occurs sporadically.

Observations 1. Although there is much disturbance, only one certainly alien species has been noted: the highly invasive South African Hottentot’s Fig (Carpobrotus edulis). 2. The presence of the Maltese Rock-Centaury (Palaeocyanus crassifolius), the National Plant of Malta seems anomalous since it was growing far from the nearest known population and it was not occupying its typical cliff habitat. 3. Also anomalous is the presence of the Mediterranean Dropseed (Sporobolus pungens). 4. The place needs a thorough clean-up since there is much dumping.

List of species encountered during two site visits held during April 201 5 Frequency is denoted by the following descriptors in descending order of frequency: very common – common – frequent – uncommon – scarce – rare.

Species which are exclusively or preferentially coastal • Aetheorrhiza bulbosa (= Crepis bulbosa, Sonchus bulbosus). M: Tfief tal-basla; E: Bulbous Hawksbeard. Uncommon. Occurs mainly on stony ground in low-lying coastal habitats. • Anthemis urvilleana. M: Bebbuna tal-Baħar; E: Maltese Sea-chamomile. Common coastal species endemic to the Maltese islands. • Atriplex halimus. M: Bjanca; E: Shrubby Orache. Scarce in the wild. This large coastal shrub is often cultivated as a hedge. • Catapodium marinum. M: Żwien tal-Baħar; E: Sea Fern-grass. Frequent in coastal situations. • Convolvulus lineatus. M: Leblieba ta-Xatt; E: Narrow-leaved Bindweed. Uncommon. A low growing silvery shrublet. • Crithmum maritimum. M: Bużbież il- Baħar; E: Sea Samphire. Frequent in rocky coastal situations. A generally low-growing fleshy-leaved shrub. • Crucianella rupestris. M: Kruċanella; E: Maltese Crosswort, Rock Crosswort. Frequent in rocky coastal situations. A dense whitish shrublet with a restricted Mediterranean distribution. • Desmazeria pignatii. M: Żwien tax-Xatt; E: Pignatti’s Fern-grass. Uncommon. A small sub-endemic herb which is restricted to SE Sicily and the Maltese Islands. • Echium arenarium. M: Lsien il-Fart tax-Xtut; E: Coastal Viper’s-bugloss. A small herb which is common in coastal areas • Frankenia hirsute. M: Erba Franka; E: Sea Heath. Common in coastal areas; a low densely-leaved shrublet. • Frankenia pulverulenta. M: Erba Franka; E: Annual Sea Heath. Frequent in coastal areas. Similar to the preceding but an annual herb. 75


• Limbarda crithmoides (= Inula crithmoides). M: Xorbett, Xorbebb; E: Golden Samphire. Very common in coastal habitats. A dense fleshy-leaved shrub. • Limonium virgatum. M: Limonju tal-Baħar; E: Seaside Sea-Lavender. Frequent in low-lying coastal habitats, including saline marshes. • Malva arborea (= Lavatera arborea). M: Ħobbejża tas-Siġra; E: Tree Mallow. Common, mainly in disturbed coastal situations. • Mesembryanthemum crystallinum. M: Kristallina Kbira; E: Iceplant. Rare. The only large population is that of the site subject of this report. Elsewhere it only occurs sporadically. A large-leaved annual herb. • Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum. M: Kristallina Żgħira; E: Narrow-leaved Iceplant. Common in coastal habitats. A narrow-leaved annual herb. • Palaeocyanus crassifolius (= Cheirolophus crassifolius, Centaurea spathulata, Centaurea crassifolia). M: Widnet il-Baħar; E: Maltese Rock-Centaury; Maltese Centaury. Endemic and rare. A fleshy-leaved shrub which is typical of cliff-sides. Finding this plant in the study site was a surprise since the closest population occurs to the south at Bengħisa and it was not growing in its typical community. • Parapholis incurve. M: Nokkli; E: Sea Hard-grass. Common in coastal habitats. A low-growing annual grass. • Plantago coronopus s.l. M: Biżbula tal-Baħar, Salib l-Art; E: Buck’s-horn Plantain. Common, especially in coastal areas. A low-growing herb. • Salsola melitensis (= Darniella melitensis). M: Xebb, Siġra tal-Irmied; E: Maltese Salt-tree. Endemic. Uncommon; mainly associated with coastal cliffs but also other coastal situations and, occasionally, also inland. Medium to large dense fleshy-leaved shrub. • Salsola soda. M: Ħaxixa tal-Irmied; E: Smooth Saltwort. Common in coastal habitats. A fastgrowing fleshy-leaved herb. • Sporobolus pungens. M: Niġem tar-Ramel; E: Mediterranean Dropseed. Rare; normally grows in coastal sand-dunes. The occurrence of this plant in this study side is unusual. • Suaeda vera. M: Swejda, Għobbejra tal-Irmied; E: Shrubby Seablite. Frequent in coastal habitats. A low to medium fleshy-leaved shrub.

Species which grow commonly in coastal habitats but also inland • Beta maritime. M: Selq Salvaġġ; E: Sea Beet. Very common; a highly variable species. • Jacobaea maritima subsp. sicula (Our plants formerly known as Senecio bicolor). M: Kromb il-Baħar Isfar; E: Sicilian Silvery Ragwort. Common sub-endemic shrub with silvery leaves. • Spergularia bocconei E: Sea-Spurrey. Common low-growing herb; also commonly found on disturbed ground. Other native species • Allium commutatum. M: Kurrat Salvaġġ; E: Wild Leek. Common in most natural and semi-natural habitats. • Arisarum vulgare. M: Garni ital-Pipa; E: Friar’s Cowl, Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Very common everywhere. • Asparagus aphyllus. M: Spraġ Salvaġġ; E: Spiny Aparagus. It is a spiny shrub-like plant common in most natural and semi-natural habitats. • Carlina involucrata. M: Sajtun; E: African Carline-thistle. Very common especially in steppic habitats. Has a geographically restricted distribution, being known, besides from Malta, from Algeria, Tunisia and the Pelagian Islands. • Dactylis hispanica. M: Deqquqa; E: Cockscomb Grass. Very common in most natural and seminatural habitats. A tough tussock-forming grass. • Daucus carota. M: Zunnarija Salvaġġa; E: Wild Carrot. Very common in most types of habitat, including disturbed ground. 76


Euphorbia exigua. M: Tengħuda Rqiqa; E: Dwarf Spurge. Uncommon; small annual herb mainly associated with agriculture. A presumably sub-endemic variety o this species also exists but this was not encountered at the study site. Euphorbia peplus. M: Tengħuda tal-ġonna; Petty Spurge. Common annual herb; especially in gardens and cultivagted ground. Euphorbia pinea. M: Tengħuda Komuni; E: Pine Spurge. Common in most natural and semi-natural habitats. Hypochoeris acyrophorus. M: Żigland Żgħir; E: Mediterranean Catsear. Common herb in both natural and disturbed habitats. Lagurus ovatus. M: Denb il-Fenek, Mejxu; E: Hare’s-tail Grass. Common grass of natural and seminatural habitats. Lotus edulis. M: Qrempuċ; E: Edible Birdsfoot-Trefoil. A common herb in both natural and seminatural habitats. It is a species of restricted geographical distribution. Moraea sisirhynchium. (= Gynandriris sisirhynchium, Iris sisirhynchium). M: Fjurdulis Salvaġġ; E: Spanish Dwarf Iris. Common in rocky undisturbed habitats. Prospero autumnalis (= Scilla autumnalis, Urginea autumnalis). M: Għansar tal-Ħarifa; Autumn Squill. Common on rocky ground in undisturbed habitats. A diminutive bulbous plant which flowers in early autumn. The Maltese plants may prove to belong to a local type and require further study. Sedum rubens. M: Sedum Aħmar; E: Red Stonecrop. Uncommon; on rocky ground in undisturbed habitats. Reichardia picroides. M: Qanċlita; E: Common Brighteyes. Common in both natural and disturbed habitats. Both the typical form and the variety maritima, characteristic of coastal habitats, were found at the study site. Silene vulgaris. M: Qasqajsa; E: Bladder Campion. Frequent in both disturbed and natural habitats. Urginea pancration (= Charybdis pancration, Drimia pancration) M: Għansar; E: Seaside Squill. Common in rocky habitats; characterised by large bulbs which are often exposed above soil level. Valantia muralis. M: Valanzja; E: Wall Valantia. Common on rocky ground in natural and seminatural habitats. A small herb with tiny leaves.

Weedy species tending to grow mainly or exclusively on disturbed ground Native or presumably so: Avena barbata. M: Ħafura Rqiqa; E: Bearded Oat. Very common on most kinds of disturbed ground. Avena sterilis M: Ħafura Kbira; E: Animated Oat. Very common on most kinds of disturbed ground. Borago officinalis M: Fidloqqom; E: Borage. Common on disturbed ground, especially in the countryside. Galactites elegans (= Galactites tomentosa). M: Xewka Bajda; E: Boar Thistle. Very common in all sorts of disturbed ground. In Malta the white-flowered form is predominant, elsewhere it usually bears purple flowerheads. Glebionis coronaria (= Chrysanthemum coronarium, Pinardia coronaria). M: Lellux, Żigland; E: Crown Daisy. Very common everywhere. One of the most conspicuous plants in the Maltese Islands. Hordeum leporinum (Hordeum murinum subsp. leporinum). M: Nixxiefa, Nixxieba, Bunixxief; E: Wall Barley. Very common everywhere. Mercurialis annua. M: Burikba; E: Annual Mercury. Very common in disturbed ground. Raphanus raphanistrum. M: Ravanell Salvaġġ; E: Wild Radish. Very common everywhere. Sonchus oleraceus M: Tfiefa Komuni; E: Smooth Sow-thistle. Very common everywhere 77


Alien species: Carpobrotus edulis M: Xuxet San Ġwann, Swaba tal-Madonna, Tapit tad-Dnubiet; E: Kaffir Fig, Hottentot Fig. Common in both disturbed and also in natural habitats which it has invaded. Native to South Africa; has been introduced into cultivation as an ornamental and drought-resistant ground cover. It has, however, run wild and is one of the most aggressive invasive weeds in the Mediterranean area.

Figure 28 : The endemic Maltese Rock-Centaury (Palaeocyanus crassifolius); Malta’s ‘National Plant’.

Figure 29 : The endemic Maltese Sea-chamomile (Anthemis urvilleana); common on the site.

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Figure 30 : Maltese Salt-tree (Salsola melitensis) (right) contending with the invasive Kaffir Fig (Carpobrotus edulis) (left).

Figure 31 : The sub-endemic Pignatti’s Fern-Grass (Desmazeria pignattii).

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Figure 32 : Maltese Crosswort (Crucianella rupestris).

Figure 33 : Two species of Iceplant (Left: Mesembryanthemum crystallinum; Right: M. nodiflorum)

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Figure 34 : Hare’s-tail grass (Lagurus ovatus), common on the site

Figure 36 : Kaffir Fig (Carpobrotus edulis), a highly invasive species from South Africa.

Figure 35 : Mediterranean Dropseed grass (Sporobolus pungens), normally a sanddune species

Figure 37 : Spanish Dwarf-iris (Moraea sisirhynchium); common in undisturbed sites.

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Figure 38 : Tree Mallow (Malva arborea), one of the commonest species on the disturbed ground.

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NIFS San anard, San niklaw and tal-Bidni rural landscape area part 1  

Part 1

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