The Malta Independent 2 August 2021, Monday

Watch: Ramla Bay flooding not the first of its kind, but beach erosion is expected

Karl Azzopardi Wednesday, 16 September 2020, 07:53 Last update: about 12 months ago

Last Monday’s heavy downpour left most people shocked when looking at images and videos of flooded areas across Malta and Gozo.

One particular case involves one of the country’s most popular beaches – Ramla il-Ħamra (Rambla Bay) – which was seemingly split in half due to a channel that developed form the adjacent valley.


While this scene stunned many who enjoy visiting this sandy beach during the summer months, it should be noted that this is not the first time this phenomenon occurred, geologist Peter Gatt told The Malta Independent.

This is something that happened last year and in previous years as well, but maybe this time it was a bit larger than usual, Gatt explained. However, this does not mean that things go back to exactly the way they were each time this happens. Gatt said that the repetition of this phenomenon is undeniably causing beach erosion, as a lot of sand is being carried away with the channel of fresh water that develops when it occurs.

This newsroom asked Conservation Biologist and researcher Adriana Vella about the impact that this may leave on the bay and its surrounding marine life.  

It is expected that as weather conditions become more extreme, the amount of erosion of the Ramla Bay sand dune will increase,” Vella explained. “Sand dunes are known to be affected by wind power, precipitation and human impact, and at Ramla Bay there is poor vegetation to keep the sand anchored, except for some areas where the Sea daffodil and various other marine vegetation help anchor the sand and protect it from erosion.”

The area is legally protected and has been managed for many years by the NGO GAIA.

“This bay should receive constant attention by planning and managing the whole catchment area through the active involvement of local environmental authorities as well, in order to manage human activities not only on the bay, but all around it,” Vella said.

Asked if people should we be worried about the beach and its marine life in the long run, or if this is a process that should be left to take its natural course, Vella said that Maltese freshwater and coastal habitats need urgent and effective conservation management to really safeguard the long list of locally legally protected species and sites.

She called for more funds to be allocated for research, monitoring and thus effective management of such vulnerable sites to mitigate anthropogenic impacts, including those linked to climate change.

“Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems is not to be considered when it is too late, but on the contrary one should act on the notion that prevention is better than the cure in both costs and effectiveness.”


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