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Title: Summer nonchalance sets in
Authors: Deidun, Alan
Keywords: Sand dunes -- Malta
Nature Trust Malta
Malta Environment and Planning Authority
Marine ecosystem management -- Malta
Issue Date: 2013-07-28
Publisher: Allied Newspapers Ltd.
Citation: Deidun, A. (2013, July 28). Summer nonchalance sets in. The Times of Malta, pp. 1-2.
Abstract: Sand dunes are nowadays, even with the uninitiated, synonymous with conservation efforts and this for obvious reasons – such a sensitive habitat is replete with plant and animal species with a highly restricted distribution on the Maltese Islands and large extents of sand dunes have been obliterated on these islands over the decades as a result of all forms of human encroachment on beaches, from opening of roads, to internet cafes, to sunbathing and renting of beach furniture and to camping. In view of the high conservation value of such a habitat, the undersigned, along with Nature Trust, decided, between 2003 and 2006, to bite the bullet and embark on proactive conservation at White Tower Bay (Ramla tat-Torri), at the tip of l-Ahrax Peninsula, which still harbours the best preserved sand dune remnants on the island of Malta. We applied for UNESCO Participation Programme grants which were successfully deployed to install a chain-and-link fence around the perimeter of the dunes at White Tower Bay so as to stall the camping and vehicle parking so virulent in the area. The hard work, which was marred by numerous incidences of vandalism such that the fence had to be frequently replaced in the sweltering summer heat, paid off, with the parking of cars and plonking of tents on the sand dune being a distant memory. After the termination of such a conservation stint, the site was literally left to its own devices by those whose responsibility it is to safeguard such sites – namely, MEPA, despite being occasionally alerted to the ramshackle state of the site. In fact, during a recent visit to the White Tower Bay sand dune, I was gobsmacked at the run-down state of the same dune remnants and their environs, with parking of vehicles during weekends being the order of the day and with the rusted vestiges of what was once a complete chain (or wire rope in successive years) and link fence only left in place. It’s fine to formally designate as protected such sites (the sand dune remnants at White Tower Bay are enclosed within the Rdum tal-Madonna Natura 2000 site) but at the end of the day, without tangible implementation and enforcement in the field, such designations are simply a house of cards or a line in the sand. Where’s all the concern about biodiversity, so loudly trumpeted in the media, evaporated? One can only imagine how disillusioned Nature Trust and myself are at seeing the hard work invested in the past in protecting the sand dune at White Tower Bay literally going down the drain, simply due to nonchalance by those who have the power to change the course of things.
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