World Wetlands Day
BirdLife Malta and Nature Trust-FEE
Malta celebrate World Wetlands Day
Both eNGOs raising awareness of precious wetland habitats
in the Maltese Islands
Today BirdLife Malta and Nature Trust-FEE Malta have teamed up to commemorate
World Wetlands Day (WWD), an international awareness day which occurs annually
on this date and marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on
Wetlands on February 2nd, 1971.
Established to raise awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the
planet, WWD was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and has grown remarkably
since then. The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores
of the Caspian Sea and the theme for 2019 is “Wetlands and Climate Change”.
Every natural habitat which is in regular contact with significant volumes of water
may be considered as a wetland.
Wetlands around the world provide important services to humans and the
environment whilst also providing a home to thousands of species of plants,
insects, birds, mammals, and fish. Globally, wetlands have provided home to very
rare species and also are particularly important for birds, especially during
migration. These habitats provide much needed food, water and shelter during the
arduous spring and autumn bird migration. Locally, these are home to the endemic
Maltese Killifish (Aphanius fascatius, Bużaqq in Maltese) which has a very
restricted range. Apart from these reserves, this fish used to be found also at the
Marsa port, although today it has been eradicated due to infrastructural works
which were carried out on site.
In Malta, wetland habitats are scarce however both Nature Trust-FEE Malta and
BirdLife Malta manage a number of these habitats including Il-Ballut ta’ Marsaxlokk
and Il-Magħluq ta’ Marsaskala which are managed by Nature Trust-FEE Malta; and
Salina, Simar and Għadira Nature Reserves managed by BirdLife Malta, thus
ensuring the ongoing protection and conservation of these important sites.
On this day both nature organisations state: “Malta has limited wetlands which
require protection. Both BirdLife Malta and Nature Trust-FEE Malta are working
hard to improve the conditions of these wetlands and therefore the benefits they
provide to humans and wildlife. However, threats such as insensitive development,
coastal erosion, littering, poaching, and climate change are ever-present and need
extra efforts to address.
Apart from their environmental importance these wetlands are particularly
important as they absorb rainwater, reduce flooding and provide other important
services for free, otherwise known as ecosystem services”.
Wetlands such as those managed by BirdLife Malta are open to the public to enjoy.
Simar and Għadira Nature Reserves are open throughout the winter months during
weekends whilst Salina is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Entry to all the
sites is free and there is no need to book to visit.
Il-Magħluq ta’ Marsaskala is also open 24 hours a day and the public is encouraged
to visit at any point to enjoy this unique open space. Il-Ballut ta’ Marsaxlokk is
open to the general public and the public is advised to stick to the existing
footpaths. Both sites have been handed over to Nature Trust-FEE Malta since
October and thus conservation works are just starting. Nature Trust-FEE Malta
encourages anyone who wants to help out with these sites to reach out via the
contact details on the website.