The Malta Independent 22 January 2022, Saturday

MEPA’s Special areas of conservation

Malta Independent Sunday, 19 December 2004, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

Sites of National

Importance (7)

Malta (4)

In-Nuffara area

One of the most interesting steppe communities of the Maltese Islands, which includes the only known Maltese population of the sub-endemic Centaurea acaulis (plant), and a population of the rare and vulnerable Hymenocarpus circinnatus, a leguminous herbaceous plant.

L-Ghadira ta’ Sarraflu

A large freshwater pool present all year round which supports populations of plants and animals that, due to the scarcity of such habitats, are rare in the Maltese Islands.

Il-Gebla tac-Cawla

An interesting small islet characterised by a coastal communities based on the Egyptian St John’s Wort (plant) and the endemic Maltese Sea-Lavender (plant), Maltese Dwarf Leek (plant) and Maltese Salt-Tree, as well as the sub-endemic Sicilian Silvery Ragwort (plant).

Il-Gebla tal-Halfa

A small islet typified by a small maritime labiate garrigue with germander and prasium shrubs, with the occurrence of the endemic Maltese Pyramidal Orchid as well as endemic coastal communities based on the Maltese Sea-Lavender (plant) and the sub-endemic Maltese Crosswort (plant).

Gozo (3)

Tal-Bloq/Wied Qirda Area

A tree reserve since 2001, this valley system and its surrounding garrigue and maquis include the otherwise rare Bay Laurel Tree maquis, as well as the unique native and vulnerable Terebinth Tree maquis and small copses composed of the critically endangered Sumach Tree, both of which are confined only this area of the Maltese Islands.

Wied Ghollieqa (l/o San Gwann)

A bird sanctuary since 1993, this valley houses an important carob-based maquis community with bramble and ivy, and many threatened fungi. Abandoned fields in the area are being afforested with typical Maltese maquis and sclerophyllous woodland communities.

Wied Harq Hammiem Area

A coastal valley typified by Anthyllis phryganic communities with various endangered and threatened species, including the sub-endemic and legally protected Maltese Birthwort (plant), and one of the best populations in the Maltese Islands of the Crested Dock (plant). Also found in this area is Ghar Harq Hammiem, a cave with the largest subterranean freshwater pool in the Maltese Islands.

Sites of International Importance (30)

Malta (24)

Buskett – Girgenti Area

A prime woodland site and a popular resort area. The only locality for Aleppo Pine woodlands, and with a variety of habitats ranging from maquis, forest remnants, garrigue, phrygana and woods typical of watercourses. Also home to various threatened species such as the sub-endemic crescent orchid. Internationallly important concentration point for migrating birds of prey.

Il-Ballut – (l/o Marsaxlokk)

A bird sanctuary since 1993, this small saline marshland supports interesting communities of scientific and ecological importance, including the best Mediterranean salt meadows of the Maltese Islands, with the very rare Sea Rush (plant).

Il-Ballut (l/o St Paul’s Bay)

A tree reserve since 2001, it has one of the four remaining oak forest remnants in the Maltese Islands, with the oldest holm-oak tree estimated to be between 700-1000 years old. These oak trees were declared ‘National Monuments’ in 1933.

Il-Maghluq tal-Bahar (l/o Marsaskala)

A small saline marshland protected since 1993, with a brackish water pool housing peculiar salt-tolerant marsh communities and critically endangered protected species, as the Maltese Killifish.

Il-Maqluba (l/o Qrendi)

An inland subsidence structure typified by endemic communities based on the Maltese Salt Tree, maquis based on the Bay Laurel Tree, and cliff-side communities characterised by the National tree, the Gharghar or Sandarac Gum Tree.

Is-Salini area

The largest of the remaining coastal marshes of the Maltese Islands,it is home to a variety of rare habitats and species, including habitats based on rushes, tamarisk groves and a small population of the Maltese killifish.

Is-Simar (l/o St Paul’s Bay)

A protected area since 1993, this bird sanctuary supports one of the most important saline marshlands in the Maltese Islands for birds and the Maltese killifish, as well as its important marshland vegetation. Internationally designated as a wetland of international importance ever since the Ramsar Convention.

Ghadira Area

A bird sanctuary with perennial pools attracting birds and home to various protected species. Its surroundings, also protected, include important clay slopes and very species-rich garrigue, which has many rare species, including the only remaining population of the sub-endemic Beaked Spider Orchid. Internationally designated as a RAMSAR site, and listed in the inventory of the Special Protected Areas and Biodiveristy in the Mediterranean.

L-Ghadira s-Safra

A unique wetland supporting numerous very rare and protected flora and fauna, including Riella helicophylla, a liverwort of European importance confined to this locality in the Maltese Islands.

L-Imgiebah/Tal-Mignuna region

An area with cliffs, clay slopes and forest remnants. The clay slopes of the area house various threatened species, and the forest remnants if essentially based on an old native stand of holm-oak, also renowned for its oak-associated fungi and fauna.

Ix-Xaghra tal-Kortin

Overlooking Il-Fekruna and Mistra Bay, this area include a garrigue with the endemic Maltese Pyramidal Orchid and cliffs typified by the endemic Maltese Stocks (plant), which are confined to these cliffs on the island of Malta

Pembroke Area

One of the most species-rich garrigue of the Maltese Islands, with a vast collection of threatened and critically endangered taxa, including the only known population of the Spiny Burnet (plant) and some of the finest populations in the world of the endemic Maltese Spider Orchid, first described in this area.

Ramla tat-Torri/Rdum tal-Madonna Area

Ramla tat-Torri represents the best sand dune community of the island of Malta, home to the endemic Maltese Sand Broomrape (plant), while the Rdum tal-Madonna is one of the most important bird areas in the Maltese Islands, supporting large colonies of threatened sea-birds.

Coastal Cliffs 1/8 — Qammieh Area

Includes garrigue and cliff communities, with various coastal endemic communities, including the endemic Maltese Sea-Chamomille (plant), Maltese Sea Lavender (plant), endemic cliff communities and breeding birds, as in the case of the Short-Toed Lark.

Coastal Cliffs 2/8 — Il-Majjiesa/Ras ir-Raheb

A system of valleys, bays and cliffs, including the sand dune system of Ramla tal-Mixquqa, the clay slopes and tamarisk communities at Ghajn Tuffieha and the species-rich garrigues and cliffs of Ras il-Pellegrin, Ta’ Lippija, Rdum il-Majjiesa and Ras ir-Raheb.

Coastal Cliffs 3/8 — Rdum tal-Punent

Various communities, including perennial spring communities with the endemic and critically endangered Maltese Freshwater Crab to species-rich garrigue and cliff communities with endemic vegetation.

Coastal Cliffs 4/8 — Rdum ta’ Ghar id-Dwieb

Various communities, including Mediterranean willow formations, species-rich garrigue housing the only known site on the island of Malta for the endemic Maltese Door-Snail Lampedusa imitatrix, and astonishing cliffs with the endemic Maltese Cliff-Orache (plant), described for the first time in this area.

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Coastal Cliffs 5/8 – Dingli Cliffs Area

Cliffs, garrigue and maquis communities of prime importance, which are extremely species-rich, and particularly rich in endemic and sub-endemic orchids, such as the Maltese Spider Orchid. The only locality in the world for the endemic and critically endangered Maltese Door-Snail, Lampedusa melitensis.

Coastal Cliffs 6/8 – Rdum tas-Siggiewi

Many communities, particularly scenic cliffs, with a mixture of Maltese endemic species including the rare national plant: the Maltese Rock Centaury and the Maltese Salt-Tree.

Coastal Cliffs 7/8 – Wied Babu – Ghar Lapsi Area

The whole area, which includes various valley systems, has very species-rich garrigue, cliff-top and cliff communities, patches of which are characterised by endemic Maltese Spurge communities. The cliffs also house the National Plant, the Maltese Rock-centaury, which was first described in this locality.

Coastal Cliffs 8/8 – Rdum tan-Nofsinhar

Various valleys and cliffs, including important bird sites and areas typified by endemic species of European importance.

Wied Mizieb

A unique garrigue and maquis community based on the national tree: the Gharghar or Sandarac Gum Tree, here represented by its largest and best populations of the Maltese Islands.

Fifla and other surrounding rocks

A strict nature reserve since 1988, where access is prohibited and all flora and fauna are protected. An important bird area housing various sea-bird breeding colonies, including one of the largest Mediterranean breeding colonies of the Storm Petrel. A number of species are confined to this island including the Filfla Wall lizard and a peculiar form of the endemic Maltese Door-Snail, Lampedusa imitatrix gattoi.

St Paul’s Islands/Selmunett

These islands have been a declared nature reserve since 1993, where all flora and fauna is protected. It has interesting coastal garrigue communities, with the sub-endemic Maltese Toadflax (plant) and Pygmy Groundsel (plant), and an endemic wall lizard confined to these islands.

Gozo (5)


Despite being a built-up area, the Citadel in Gozo includes very interesting communities, particularly those based on the sub-endemic Maltese Toadflax (plant), one of the most rapidly declining plants of international importance of the Maltese Islands.

Dwejra - Qawra Area including Hagret il-General

A complex site, with cliffs housing the endemic Maltese Everlasting (plant), described here for the first time to the world, and a number of breeding sea-birds, as well as an inland sea, fine stands of the rare Chaste Tree, and a freshwater pool fed by a perennial spring typified by many threatened animals and plants.

Ghajn Barrani Area

This area is typified by various coastal communities including watercourse, garrigue, maquis and clay slopes of international importance because of the native African Tamarisk, Chaste Tree and Shrubby Orache (plant) communities, species rich clays and unique maquis based on old Olives, Hawthorns, Pomegranates and various wild rosaceous tree species.

Ir-Ramla Area

The most important extant sand dune community of the Maltese Islands, with an almost complete dune system from embryo dunes to fixed dunes, with a large range of animals and plants that are now confined to this area in the Maltese Islands, or endemic to it.

Xlendi - Wied tal-Kantra Area

A large valley system, and species-rich garrigue, with various important natural habitats and species, including very good populations of the Maltese Stocks (plant) and the Maltese Hyoseris (plant), both endemic, and various rock pools with temporary pools housing species of international importance, as the sub-endemic Maltese Waterwort (plant).

Comino (1)

Kemmuna, Kemmunett, Il-Hagriet ta’ bejn il-Kmiemen u l-Iskoll ta’ Taht il-Mazz-Simar

The entire island of Kemmuna and its satellite islets house the best endemic Maltese spurge habitat types of the Maltese Islands, as well as thyme garrigues, phrygana, communities based on the African Wolfbane (plant), a small saline marshland with native African Tamarisk and Chaste Tree communities, as well as cliffs with the endemic Maltese Salt-Tree and the sub-endemic Cliff Carrot (plant), and a number of sandy beaches, one of which backed by a small dunal system with species confined to this locality only in the Maltese Islands. Is also an important bird region.

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