Name of the area: Northern Region of Malta
Surface area: 9.985 hectares
Description of the surface: agroecosystem characterized by wetlands, dry gorges, and Mediterranean scrub.
Natura 2000 areas: Is-Simar MT0000006; L-Inħawi tal-Għadira MT0000015; Wied il-Miżieb MT0000012.
The area interested by the GREENCHANGE project is the northern and central region of Malta, the main island of the Maltese archipelago, with a central role for the conservation of the island’s biodiversity. Maltese hydro-geology is characterized by few torrential watercourses, which cross the island and are extensively exploited for irrigation purposes. Maltese climate is typically Mediterranean, with rains slightly exceeding 500 mm/year and a dry period covering all three summer months.
In detail, the areas involved in the interventions “Linear ecological connections, dry stone walls and arboreal bands in the Ghadira and Chadwick Lakes” (C9) are:
Ghadira: an area of 278 hectares, with a very diversified land cover that includes a prevailing agricultural matrix (47%), and several important biotopes such as small salt works, brackish lagoons and garrigue. L-Inħawi tal-Għadira is one of the most extensive Natura 2000 areas on the island of Malta. In fact, it is characterized by a remarkable environmental heterogeneity and by a significant ecological value, which also derives from a widespread environmental mosaic that gives rise to numerous ecotonal elements. The area is mainly privately owned, with a portion of public area in the Ghadira Nature Reserve. The Reserve, managed by Birdlife Malta is an artificial wetland that hosts various habitats of community interest.
Chadwick lakes: an area of about 1500 hectares, developed around a system of artificial lakes created along the Wied il-Qlejgha watercourse, within Speranza Valley. The land cover is largely agricultural (about 80%) and the areas are mostly privately owned. The river begins at a source in the North-West area of Malta and flows into the Salina Bay in the northeast of the island. The artificial lakes were built by Mr. Osbert Chadwick in the late nineties of the nineteenth century. The water of the river and of the reservoirs is used for irrigation purposes. The area has a significant intrinsic ecological value as the lakes – which are the largest inland lakes in Malta – are part of one of the most important ecological corridors of the island (Is-Salini, Mosta Valley, Buskett Gardend and Dingly cliffs), along which are distributed some sites of considerable conservation value (such as Is-Salini and L-Inhawi tal-Buskett u tal-Girgenti). In addition of its great naturalistic value and important role in the ecological balance of the island, the areas is an attractive pole for Maltese eco-tourism.