Valley – check with likes

January 23, 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Alfred E Baldacchino

The news of the restoration of Wied il-Qlejgħa, alias Chadwick lakes, is good news. Not least because the ‘cleaning of valleys’ has been put to bed.

The largest dam at Wied il-Qlejgħa in all its glory

The measures highlighted in the media for such restoration are also something to look forward to, namely: restoration of dilapidated rubble walls; removal of the playing area; removal of invasive alien species of flora and fauna; removal of accumulated sediment behind dams; restoration and utilisation of the Fiddien pumping station; and the planning of walking trails.

Dilapidated rubble walls – not an uncommon site after some heavy rainfall

Valleys in the Maltese islands are a sensitive ecological areas – much ignored, unappreciated and abused. These have been abandoned and mismanaged for years, making their restoration more delicate. They are dried river beds, once adorned with dwarf hippopotamus and endemic swan. Climate change reduced these rich fresh water habitats to what they are today.

30+ year old gabbjuni still uncolonised by indigenous flora.


Dilapidated rubble walls is the first item that should be addressed, thus stopping soil erosion, one of the main culprits for the filling up of the dams.

The use of gabbjuni (big cages) to repair/replace rubble walls should not even be considered. A look at the 30-year-old gabbjuni installed along the valley, shows how barren they are. Not even the tenacious invasive cape sorell (l-ingliża) has managed to colonise any of them.

The play area in the midst of willow trees. Now who would have thought of this?

The removal of the playing area in the midst of the valley is a sine qua non. I wonder who was the architect who conceived this idea in the middle of one of the largest valley in the Maltese Islands!

Alien invasive eucalyptus trees dominate the valley. One might have to tread careful here because these can be protected by the latest tree protection regulations issued by ERA.

The removal of invasive alien species of flora and  fauna is another step in the right direction.

No need to say that this is a sensitive and delicate endeavour. It is not just bulldozing them on the lines of how the Ministry of Transport bulldozes trees. The invasive species of flora have to be gradually removed  in some areas, while being replaced by indigenous species.

Invasive species growing in Wied il-Qlejgħa include: she oak (less than a dozen), castor oil trees (less than 100), acacias and eucalyptus (more than a score and twenty of each species).

Their removal has to be professional so as not to contribute further to their dispersal. This applies mainly to the castor oil tree which has to be uprooted, and burned on site thus eliminating the possibility of giving it a free ride and opportunity to its seeds to germinate on new reclaimed grounds.

Furthermore, indigenous species which grow in the valley, such as poplar trees, willows, almond trees, lentisks, olive trees, chaste trees,  should not be mistaken for invasive species and removed. Not a far-fetched concern.

The removal of invasive alien species of flora and fauna is another step in the right direction. No need to say that this is a sensitive and delicate endeavour

On the other hand, the notorious lately introduced red swamp crayfish also abounds in the valley, detrimental to any fresh aquatic life such as indigenous painted frog and its tadpole, dragonflies and water beetles larvae. The person who introduced such alien species, should be chained to a poplar tree until the last crayfish is collected.

The indigenous poplar tree – adorns its natural habitat. No it is not dead.

On the other hand indigenous trees adapted to such a riverine habitat include the poplar tree, already established in the valley, willow (two species also established), chaste tree (of which there is half a dozen) and rare species of ash and elm.

AmbjentMalta can start propagating them immediately so that they will be readily available for planting as standard trees as soon as a parcel of the valley has been restored.

There are also a number of indigenous flora, some  rare and scarce aquatic species, such as water cress, sanicle-leaved water crowfoot, and bulbous buttercup. Others not so rare are greater plantain, creeping cinquefoil, rushes and sedges.

Rare and scarce aquatic plants whose seeds aestivate in the sediment. (Photos by Stephen Mifsud).


Another delicate exercise is the removal of debris, and sediment accumulated behind the two main water dams. Presumably, one would think, this would be undertaken during the hot summer months when the cisterns are dry. This means that the top layer of the sediment will be full of seeds and ova of species frequenting the aquatic habitat. The collecting of approximately 15 cm of scraped surface sediment to be redeposited in the restored parts, would contribute to the survival of these rare species.

motor bike tracks in the main footpaths 

The valley bottom is constantly being abused by off-roading motorbikes as one can see from the erosion of footpaths and fresh tyre marks.

One of the shallow dams closest to Fiddien has also been damaged to make easier access.

Modern environment friendly public access gate

So the suggestions for walking trails is another positive approach, especially if these are somewhat raised from the ground, for the convenience of wild fauna.

Furthermore, public access gates can be installed along the way, as a measure for controlling bikes – motor or manual.

I know that if Dr Daniel Micallef, one of the few politicians with environment at heart, could see this, I am sure he would send some people to hell.

The Fiddien box, which was restored during the time when Daniel Micallef was Minister for Education and Environment, has long been vandalised and the heavy water pump has seemingly disappeared – hopefully taken by the Water Services Corporation for safe keeping?

The plans for their restoration and educational use is also another positive step.

The second dam, needing some structural repairs, still contributes its best for the storage of water, before it passes it to Wied tal-Isperanza.

Once restoration works are completed, the valley has to be monitored and managed. Traffic management tops the list.

This will ensure that the number of vehicles frequently jamming the area on public holidays and Sundays will not bring such restoration to naught by their haphazard parking. So it would be beneficial to one and all if the road through the valley is made one way: from Imtarfa to Mosta.

The farming community can have an identification permit displayed on car windscreens, to allow them to use it both ways during working days.

The proof of this EU funded pudding is in the eating.

I will be watching grastis et amoris patria, naturally.

Alfred Baldacchino is a former assistant director of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment directorate.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

related articles on this blog:

Jappella biex Chadwick lakes jigi mmaniġġat aħjar

In-nixfa tax-xitwa u s-siġra tal-lewż




Wied il-Qlejgħa

February 20, 2017

Wied il-Qlejgħa

Alfred E. Baldacchino

mistieden fil-programm Għalina lkol ta’ Sonia Young 

16 ta’ Frar, 2017

isma l-programm billi tagħfas fuq il-vleġġa.



Il-luq – siġra indiġena Maltija li tikber matul in-nixxigħat


Is-siġra tar-riġnu, siġra oħra invażiva li tikber matul il-Wied. U dejjem tifrex u tiżdied.


Is-siġra tal-ewkalyptus, siġra Awstraljana li tnixxef kull fejn tikber, tiddomina Wied il-Qlejgħa.


Siġra invażiva oħra Awstraljana li hija r-reġina ta’ Wied il-Qlejgħa

2016,02,12 - in-nixfa tax-xitwa 2016

L-lqugħ ta’ fuq, niexef wara xitwa ming’ajr xita. Juri wkoll in-nuqqas ta’ immaniġġar professjonali li għandu bżonn il-wied.


Wied il-Qlejgħa fis-sbuħija kollha tiegħu meta tagħmel ix-xita. Imma ftit li xejn huwa apprezzat.

2017-02-12-skartGħemejjel il-bniedem, li kif jgħidu huwa fost l-aktar intelliġenti mill-ħlejjaq kollha fuq din l-art.



Papri invażivi tal-irziezet mitluqa hemm mill-bniedem.







Jappella biex Chadwick lakes jigi mmaniġġat aħjar

February 12, 2017


Il-Ħadd, 12 ta’ Frar, 2017


Intervista ma’ Melvic Zammit dwar il-bżonn li Wied il-Qlejgħa jkun immaniġġat u mħares aħjar.


Is-seher tal-ilma: fejn hemm l-ilma hemm il-ħajja; fejn ma hemmx ilma ma hemmx ħajja.


Siġar ħorfija tal-luq reqdin għax-xitwa jistennew it-tmellisa tar-rebbiegħa biex tlibbishom bil-weraq.

In-nixfa tax-xitwa u s-siġra tal-lewż

February 14, 2016

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Il-Ħadd 17 ta’ Frar, 2016

Nhar il-Ġimgħa, 12 ta’ Frar,  mort sa Wied il-Qlejgħa jew kif jafuh xi wħud Chadwick Lakes. Ma kontx qed nistenna li l-ilqugħ kienu se jkunu jfawwru minn wieħed għall-ieħor kif jagħmlu s-soltu fi Frar. Imma nħsadt għaliex Wied il-Qlejgħa kien qoxqox. Lanqas qatra ilma. Ħassejtni f’xi ġurnata f’Awissu.

wied niexef

Nixfa ta’ wied fi Frar li tbeżża’

Ma kien hemm l-ebda ċikkuġwiebi jindokra r-roqgħa tiegħu.

Ma kien hemm l-ebda ċikkuġwiebi jindokra r-roqgħa tiegħu.

Ma kienx hemm il-mużika tal-ilma jċafċaf bħas-soltu. Ma kien hemm l-ebda ċikkuġwiebi jissiefaħ fuq wiċċ l-ilma, jindokra l-roqgħa tiegħu u jħajjar xi sieħba biex jagħtu sehemhom u jkattru l-ispeċi. Lanqas marżep jew xi żrinġ wieħed meta s-soltu l-wied ikun miżgħud bihom. Fittixt iċ-ċfolloq tal-widien, li s-soltu kien jikber f’wiċċ l-ilma. Imma kif seta’ jikber f’dik in-nixfa.

Ħarsti waqgħet fuq l-għelieqi fil-madwar. Fix-xhur xitwin dawn jieħdu l-ilma tax-xita u jlestu l-art għaż-żergħa. Imma din is-sena qoxqox. Min sejjer jgħin lill-bdiewa bl-ilma biex dawn ikunu jistgħu jkabbru l-prodotti tagħhom għall-mejda.

Kienu s-siġar tal-lewż li taffewli ftit id-dieqa. F’dik in-nixfa kollha kienu mlibbsa kollha bojod bil-fjuri. Kienu juru rieda b’saħħitha biex ikomplu  jgħixu u jkompli joktru. Hekk imlibbsa kienu jolqtu lil minn jarahom u juruna l-faqar tagħna meta qed neqirdu dak li jwieżinna. Madwarhom il-ħoss, li lili jgħollina fis-seba’ sema, iż-żanżin tan-naħal, kollha bieżla jdakkru l-fjuri u jixorbu mill-għasel tagħhom waqt li jiġbru l-għabra tad-dakra li jieħdu ġewwa l-miġbħa fejn jagħmlu l-għasel u għaġna oħra bih. Għalanqas setgħu isibu fjuri friski mhux imbexxa minn kimika velenuża li tintuża mingħajr kontrol, imħallsa minn flus pubbliċi, biex xi wħud jinqdew kummerċjalment.


Darba smajt lil xi ħadd jgħid li s-siġar Maltin mhux sbieħ għax ma jagħmlux fjuri.

Is-siġra tal-lewż ilha tikber fil-gżejjer Maltin mill-passat imbiegħed. Minħabba l-għajnuna tagħha lill-bniedem, mil-lvant nofsani fejn hija indiġena, ittieħedet madwar il-Mediterran kollu fejn anki bdiet tikber f’dan l-ambjent minn jhedda. Illum hija meqjusa bħala siġra arkeofita fil-gżejjer Maltin.

Minbarra li ssebbaħ l-art, is-siġra tal-lewż ittina l-frott u tiġbed lejha n-naħal kemm biex idakkruha kif ukoll biex jagħmlu l-għasel li jgħaddu lilna. Il-frott tagħha wkoll jgħin lill-għasafar.

Hija togħla minn 4 sa 10 metri, fuq zokk li jista’ jilħaq 30 ċm diametru. Il-fjuri, b’diametru ta’ 3 sa 5 ċm, ikollhom ħames petali bojod b’leħħa rosa mitfija. Jistgħu jidhru kmieni sa minn Frar u jiksu l-għesieleġ għarwiena, qabel ma jidher il-weraq.

Il-frotta tkun bejn 3.5 ċm sa 6 ċm. Tkun imlaħħma, iebsa u magħluqa f’qoxra b’għadma iebsa ġo nofsha li ġo fiha jkun hemm żerriegħa waħda, rari tnejn. Din issir fis-sena ta’ wara, għall-ħabta ta’ Awissu. Dawk li jikbru fis-selvaġġ ikun qarsa. Dawk ikkultivati jkollhom togħma ħelwa.

Is-siġra tal-lewż tista’ tgħix minn 70 sa 80 sena. F’ħafna pajjiżi tintuża wkoll biex isebbaħ il-madwar fl-ibliet, waqt li l-fjuri joffru ammont kbir ta’ għasel, kemm lin-nahal, kif ukoll lill-ħlejjaq oħra, minbarra li l-frott tagħha joffri ukoll ikel lill-għasafar.

Waqt li kont sejjer lura għall-karozza għidt bejni u bejn ruħhi: imma kieku dawn is-siġar jintużaw fuq id-dwawar fit-toroq (roundabouts) ma jkunux sbieħ? Jew jintużaw fit-toroq u fit-tisbiħ tal-art fl-ibliet minflok dawk li jinbġabu minn pajjiżi bħall-Amerika t’isfel, l-Awstralja, u l-Afrika t’Isfel, ma jkunx ahjar? Ma jkunx aħjar li l-flus jintużaw fl-edukazzjoni tal-ambjent Malti, fit-tisbieħ u t-tisħiħ tiegħu minflok jintefqu barra minn Malta; u barra minn hekk ma jinġabux aktar mard u speċi invażivi oħra li qed jagħmlu ħsara ekonomika, ekoloġika u soċjali?

close up of flowerImma forsi dan ma jaqbilx lil dawk li qed jagħmlu qliegħ kbir minn flus pubbliċi u ma tantx jinteressahom is-saħħa, il-ħarsien tal-ambjent u tas-soċjetà Maltija. U milli jidher xi politiċi jaqblu ma’ dawn ukoll, għax iħallsuhom b’għajnehom magħluqa minkejja dan.

Ħarsa oħra lejn in-nixfa tal-wied ġagħlitni nistaqsi wkoll: kieku kellhom jiġu salvati ftit qtar tax-xita minn dawk li l-gvernijiet Maltin, bi spiża ta’ €57 miljun, qed jixkupaw lejn il-baħar, il-ħajja fil-wied ma kienetx tkun aħjar għal dawk kollha li ħajjithom hija msejjsa fuq l-ilma, inkluż il-bdiewa? Għalija din id-deċiżjoni li l-ilma tax-xita li jiġi b’xejn nixkupawħ il-baħar, hija waħda mid-deċiżjonijiet politiċi stupidi u suwiċidali li l-pajjiż fil-futur qarib irid iħallas preżż kbir soċjali, ambjentali, u ekonomiku. Min kienu dawk il-Ministri li wettqu dan il-pjan?

Dħalt fil-karozza lura għad-dar. Fuq ir-radju kien hemm l-aħbarijiet, fosthom kemm l-ekonomija tal-pajjiż sejra tajba u kemm din sejra tkompli tikber. U staqsejt lili nnifsi: imma dawn ħadu inkonsiderazzjoni l-prezz tal-qerda li qed issir fl-ambjent? Dawn ħadu inkonsiderazzjon il-prezz moħbi li l-poplu sejjer ikollu jġorr minħabba kemm deċiżjonijeit politiċi żbaljati, immaniġġar xejn professjonali tal-biodiversità, kif ukoll minħabba r-riżultat tal-kilba tal-bniedem għall-materjaliżmu li qed iwassal għal bdil fil-klima?

Meta nara n-nixfa f’Wied il-Qlejgha, wied pinċipali f’Malta, u nisma aħbarijiet bħal dawn, nasal biex ngħid li bagħal mgħammad idur mas-sienja, għandu viżjoni aktar determinanta u ġenwina u jaf fejn sejjer, milli wħud mill-politikanti li jmexxu dan il-pajjiż.

siġra tal-lewżImma għaliex dan il-pajjiż mhux qed jitħalla jikber u jitħalla juri s-sbuħija tiegħi fl-oqsma kollha, kif tagħmel is-siġra tal-lewż?

Is-siġra tal-Lewż  Prunus amygdalus Almond Tree

Ċfolloq tal-widien Rannunculus trichophyllus  Thread-leaved Water Crowfoot

Marżeb Discoglossus pictus  tadpole

Żrinġ Discoglossus pictus  Painted frog

Ċikkuġwiebi Odonata spp. Dragonflies

ara wkoll: