Updated 4.38pm

BirdLife Malta is hoping to attract more birds, including flamingos, to nest at the Salini reserve.

The management and operation of the reserve was on Tuesday handed over to BirdLife Malta, after an initial agreement was signed in 2016.

Birds regularly alight in salt pans at the site to rest during migration. The flamingo – a bird synonymous with salt pans, especially in the Mediterranean - is among them. 

BirdLife Malta president Darryl Grima said: "Logistical challenges mean it won’t be easy for this project to succeed as this is the largest natural park in Malta. But imagine this place with more trees and reaching its full potential.” 

Speaking at the park during the final signing of the agreement, Mr Grima insisted people were far more in favour of these kinds of projects, rather than construction ones.

Transport Minister Ian Borg said the government would be providing human resources and financial aid.

Environment Minister José Herrera said the project would attempt to regenerate the area as a recreational one for visitors.

The project encompasses the water in the salt pans and as well as the creation of a bird sanctuary. BirdLife Malta will also increase the number of shrubs and trees in the area which will in turn attract more birds to nest there.

Foul smell

BirdLife also plans to assess the salt pans in the area, which often emit a foul smell. 

"The chances are that the canal running around the salt pans is the source of the foul smell, but BirdLife Malta needs to assess the matter properly having only now assumed the running of the nature park," Nature reserves manager Mark Gauci said.

"Even though the canal in itself is excluded from the management agreement we will definitely be working closely with the government, ERA and also residents to ensure this inconvenience is addressed," he added.

The bird conservation organisation also plans on improving the habitat in a number of salt pans for a variety of avifauna species. The museum, housed in the reception centre of the Salina nature park, will now also be managed by BirdLife Malta. 

Dating back to the time of the knights of the Order of St John, the man-made salt pans had starting producing some salt again in 2013.  The huts built alongside by the British for salt storage are a jumble of wood, stone and metal.

The decision to hand over Salini to Birdlife had raised the ire of FKNK back in 2016, who had complained that the spaces where hunting could take place were shrinking because of building, roads, buffer-zones and reserves.

BirdLife Malta had already manages a number of nature sites entrusted to it by the government following the NGO’s work towards habitat restoration for biodiversity in these areas.

These are Għadira Nature Reserve in Mellieħa, Simar Nature Reserve at St Paul’s Bay and Foresta 2000 - a large expanse of afforestation in the north of Malta.

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