The Malta Independent 11 December 2019, Wednesday

180,000 square metres of woodland affected by fire at Mizieb

Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 19:45 Last update: about 7 months ago

The analysis report prepared by ERA and AmbjentMALTA concluded that 180,000 m2 of Miżieb woodlands have been affected by the fire at Mizieb, representing about 25% of the whole afforested site.

A large number of trees were affected and most of these included the following species Aleppo Pine, Olive Tree, Gum Trees, and blue-leaved wattle. It was outlined that the occurrence of highly flammable species as pines and eucalyptus, the large extensive cover of pine needle leaf litter as well as dumped litter in the area were considered to be the main factor assisting fire spread.

One of the main issues identified in the analysis was that the Miżieb area is predominantly an artificial monospecific forest plantation of Aleppo Pines, intermixed with invasive alien species which are amongst the most highly flammable Mediterranean tree spies. Hence the lack of biodiversity has made it easier for the fire the spread out.

 

The report recommends that: 

1)    The area is allowed enough time to regeneration by promoting and allowing pine tree saplings to regenerate on their own, protecting new saplings, and by allowing olive trees to resprout from their buds;

2)    Invasive alien species are controlled and eradicated;

3)    A planting scheme favouring a mixture of native fire-resistant species is drafted, integrating fire ecology principles into forestation process and fire management strategies and policies to support sustainable management;

4)    Features or trees which can act as deterrents to fire spread are introduced.

5)    Access points for water access from the pipeline for the New Water passing through the Miżieb Area are created;

6)    Improve preparedness through Fire-Smart governance systems.

 

Minister José Herrera stated that ERA and AmbjentMALTA will be drawing up a management plan for the Miżieb area. The management plan will incorporate the setting up of passages and other features such as adding more rubble walls and indigenous trees that are more resistant to fire. The Minister stressed the importance that individuals visiting the area should keep it litter free in order to significantly reduce the related risks. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Clint Camilleri emphasised on the need for our society to appreciate more such woodlands by being more cautious when visiting such areas. During the summer period, any open flames or litter can easily lead to the destruction of vast areas with the repercussion that now the woodlands need a considerable amount of time to regenerate. Clint Camilleri concluded that the management plan being drafted by ERA and AmbjentMALTA shall prove to be yet another positive step towards the protection of our environment.

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