| Foresta 2000 site above Ghadira |
BirdLife Malta created Foresta 2000 as the organisation’s project for the new millennium.
The aim is to recover an area and plant a Mediterranean forest that would become an attraction for both Maltese and foreigners wanting to explore and enjoy nature.
BirdLife Malta engaged two strategic partners that would help with the implementation of the project: Din l-Art Helwa, a heritage organisation; and PARC, the afforestation department of the Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment.
The area identified as the most suitable was the west slope of Marfa Ridge, an area consisting of abandoned fields falling mostly within the 500m boundary of Ghadira Nature Reserve. Altogether the area covers about 104ha, an area three times the size of Buskett.
Nature trails are being planned that will take hikers through the groves of native trees. The intention is to attract birds and other fauna to the area. Much of the native flora species being planted will provide a food source throughout the year for birds and mammals.
On the night of 8-9 May 2007 a group of criminals entered Foresta 2000 and destroyed 3000 trees. They uprooted, broke or sawed them off one by one, methodically. Click here for more information on the FORESTA 2000 APPEAL.
Building Foresta 2000
One of the first tasks was to restore the habitat that had been turned into a 4WD track and had degraded much of the clay steppe vegetation down the east slope. A large number of shrubs, such as esparto grass and tamarisk, were planted behind low rubble walls to prevent further loss of soil. Work on this started in 2003 and today the wounds are healing as plants flourish again on the undisturbed clay.
The site at It-Taflija (the east flank of the project site) was the first to be planted. Here a mix of Aleppo pine, Mediterranean buckthorn, myrtle, strawberry tree, holm oak, hawthorn and lentisk have been planted. The many berries and fruits produced by myrtle, lentisk and hawthorn in autumn and winter will be food for migrating and wintering species.
Several companies, groups, schools and individuals donated or sponsored trees for planting in this new afforestation initiative. A number of scarce or rare shrubs are also being planted in the area to help them spread or re-colonise the areas. These include hoary rock-rose and narrow-leaved rock-rose, bean trefoil and wolfbane. Areas of degraded garigue are being replenished with spurges and Mediterranean thyme. This is to stimulate a rich biodiversity and a regeneration of habitats.
|Planting trees at the site|
All this needs proper care, management and human resources. PARC is providing the expertise to rebuild some of the rubble walls, the clearing of non-native species like acacia, and providing many of the young plants. The Italian Corpo Forestale dello Stato have provided 8000 trees and shrubs over three years. BirdLife Malta and Din l-Art Helwa have employed a forest ranger to manage the site.
Foresta 2000 is open to visitors all year round. If you are interested in organising a guided tour for school groups please contact us.