MEPA schedules Wardija Ridge, Il-Ballut tal-Wardija, Wied ta’ San Martin and Il-Maqluba
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The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) has recently scheduled the areas of Wardija Ridge, Il-Ballut tal-Wardija, Il-Wied ta’ San Martin and the area known as Il-Maqluba, in its efforts to safeguard the rich natural heritage that these areas contribute towards the eco-system of the Maltese Islands.
Wardija ridge, Il-Ballut tal-Wardija and Il-Wied ta’ San Martin run in a Southwestern – Northeastern direction from the Ghajn Tuffieha area in Mgarr to the Xemxija Bay area in St.Paul’s Bay. The Northern ridge edge is interrupted by a series of valley systems which discharge into il-Wied tal-Pwales. This ridge and valley system is a result of a combination of tectonic movements and karstic processes that constitute a predominant feature of the rural landscape of the area.
The area has been assigned various levels of protection, the highest covering the Holm Oak forest remnant at Il-Ballut and the watercourse at Il-Wied ta’ San Martin: two relatively small pocket areas for which a Level 1 maximum protection has been given.
The landscape plateaus, that have been assigned a Level 2 degree of protection as Areas of Ecological Importance and Sites of Scientific Importance, support important garigue communities characterised by rare species.
Others levels of protection have been given to the three valley systems in the scheduled areas, the upper reaches of the watercourse of Il-Wied ta’ San Martin and the Southern part of the promontory at the area known as L-Argentier.
The Authority, has also scheduled the area known as Il-Maqluba, limits of Qrendi. This natural area is one of the best examples of a deep, large-scale inland solution subsidence structure (doline) in the Maltese Islands. It is the only natural sub-circular depression that is not filled with sediment. The doline serves as a natural soak-away reservoir, with a depth of approximately 15 metres, an area of approximately 6,000m² and a perimeter of 300 metres.
This area supports a dense maquis community dominated by Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and a native stand of Malta’s National Tree: the Sandarac Gum Tree (Tetraclinis articulata). Malta’s National Bird, the Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius), is also known to breed at Il-Maqluba. The immediate surroundings of Il-Maqluba support a maquis dominated by Carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua) and Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) amongst other species.
The boundaries delineating the scheduled areas and the different levels of protection can be found in the Government Gazzette, published last month in Government Notices 1137 and 1138 of 2008 respectively.
The Authority said it remains committed to implementing sustainable development principles and practices for it to pass on the natural and cultural heritage to future generations.