Biodiversity expert says Il-Maqluba fires greatly damaged the area’s whole ecosystem
The fires that started on the eve of the feast of The Assumption at Qrendi’s Il-Maqluba and continued to rage for several days before being fully extinguished caused severe damages not only to trees but the whole ecosystem of the area, according to biodiversity expert Alfred Baldacchino. He appealed that protected tree zones, such as Il-Maqluba, should be properly protected and not just on paper.
When the fires started, TVM is informed that a fire engine was standing by in the vicinity because of fireworks from Qrendi that was celebrating The Assumption. It went immediately on site and was later joined by a number of other fire engines. However, by then, the fires had spread and continued to burn over the following three days. Il-Maqluba is a protected tree zone and a special conservation area.
This is because among other factors it has a unique ecosystem that includes trees such as laurels and junipers as well as rare plants. In addition it is a nesting place for the country’s national bird, il-Merill. In a statement, the Environmental and Resources Authority (ERA) said that throughout it has been working closely with Civil Protection officials and the Police. It said that preliminary information is that some protected trees have been burnt but the greatest damage was among alien plants, such as cane bushes. It said Police are investigating the possible source for this incident.
Alfred Baldacchino maintained that not only trees were damaged but the whole ecosystem of the area.
He said the canes themselves are an ecosystem on which a number of reptiles, insects, butterflies and beetles depend, but also some small mammals like rats and the damage is greater than at first glance. He maintained that providing protection on paper is not sufficient and said this is an easy way out because zones like Il-Maqluba require special protection because it is a special ecological zone. He stressed on the importance of managing such sites while as to whether it was accidental or intentional, great damage has been inflicted.
In a statement the Partit Demokratiku expressed its concerns regarding the incident. It maintained that pyrotechnic science has a strong tradition in Malta that requires devotion and produces beautiful shows. Fireworks factories pay for the services of the Civil Protection Department during events and it is the Department’s responsibility to provide security and safety not only to life but also to property and natural heritage as well as heritage in general.
Nature Trust Malta said it is greatly concerned over the whole incident, particularly because Il-Maqluba is one of the Natura 2000 sites. It appealed to the public to be very careful when using apparatus that can cause fire and to immediately reports fire incidents to the appropriate authorities.
In-nirien fil-Maqluba għadhom ma ntfewx – il-Pulizija tinvestiga minn fejn inħaraq in-nar