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Providing nature-based recreation, tourism and access to cultural heritage whilst protecting and conserving natural heritage

: Providing nature-based recreation, tourism and access to cultural heritage whilst protecting and conserving natural heritage. An ecological restoration project is taking place below Manikata in an attempt to reverse the widespread damage and disturbance caused by years of illegal dumping. Native trees, shrubs and smaller plants are being planted and taken care of in the area after an extensive cleaning effort. Over 1300 plants were planted including: Olives, Sandarac Gum Tree, Evergreen oak, Carob, Lentisk, Wolfbane, Myrtle, Rockrose, Golden Samphire. Protect a number of historical and archaeological sites. The park aims to provide a space to encourage an active lifestyle while becoming aware of the natural heritage of the area. Educational school visits are held during the cooler months while summer sees more of a focus on the coast with guided snorkelling sessions offered at the beautiful sandy beach of Golden Bay which has been designated as Beach of Quality according to international Blue Flag criteria. (Il-Majjistral, 2019).
: Malta
: Il-Mellieha
: 2275 ha
: 10868
: 2013
: 6 Years
: Ongoing
: Yes
: Heritage Parks Federation
: 35.9377
: 14.3465
Improved air quality
Recent research indicates that green infrastructure outside of the urban areas is important for the delivery of air quality improvement benefits within the study area (Balzan et al., 2018).
Biodiversity conservation or increased biodiversity
Yes, safeguarding ecosystems and biodiversity. Sand dunes make up just 2% of the Maltese coastline. Sand dunes represent a rare and vulnerable habitat. They are important geomorphologically because theyprovide a sediment bank that contributes to beach replenishment and thus help combat erosion. Sand dunes provide a habitat for speciallised flora and fauna. Species typical of sand dunes which have been recordedfrom Golden Sands include the Sand Oyster Thristle (Scolymus hispanicus), the Sea Medick (Medicago marina) and the Sea Holly (Eryngium maaritinum). The dune community is mostly located at the mouth of what was once valley that has been interrupted through anthropogenic disturbance. Important fauna known to inhabit the Golden Bay system include beetles that have only been recorded from this site. (Il-Majjistral, 2019).
Ecosystem restoration and/or improved ecological connectivity
Yes, rehabilitation of rare sand dunes in the extremely sensitive site of Golden Bay (Il-Mixquqa), which sand dunes constitute a scarce habitat considering that less than 2% of Malta’s coastline consists of sandy shores. The associated flora and fauna which populate these dunes are also extremely rare. The beach and sand dune area have been degraded over years of human disturbance. The delicate ecosystem is being restored through manual intervention, entailing identification and constant monitoring of alien and invasive species prior to their being eradicated and substitutedt with native, indigenous ones. (Il-Majjistral, (s.a.).
Increased quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
Yes, the project increased quality of Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park – A Green Network. One of the MTA “Malta Goes Rural Walks” trails passes through the site. (ERA, 2018e).
Increased willingness, participation, investment in NBS
Yes, The Majjistral Nature and History Park, which is Malta's first natural national park is managed by the Heritage Parks Federation consisting of three NGOs. The management is overseen by a management board, composed of three representatives from the NGOs, three from the public sector, Mellieħa Local Council and a chairperson. This Park incorporates part of the protected coastal cliffs of the North West of Malta, which now form part of the Natura 2000 network, and also contains a number of historical and archaeological sites. The Park is a member of the EUROPARC Federation, which amongst its aims, is that of promoting good practice in the management of protected areas. (ERA, 2018e).
Provision of health benefits
Yes, the Park offers an extensive natural and recreational area for tourists and locals alike. One of the MTA “Malta Goes Rural Walks” trails passes through the site. (ERA, 2018e). Social & Health Benefits: healthy living and mental wellbeing; urban regeneration: enhanced places for recreation, and leisure fostering better quality of life. There is now a growing body of evidence of the positive physical and mental health benefits associated with greenery and green elements in living and working environments. Parks improve human interaction with nature. Such connections to nature have been shown to benefit human physical and mental health and productivity, and reduce blood pressure and hospital stays. (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2019; Beatley, Newman, 2013).
Education, knowledge exchange and learning
Yes, IL-Majjistral holds great potential as an educational site, in particular for the furtherance of the study and appreciation of the ecology, flora, fauna, geology and history of the Maltese Islands. (ERA, 2018e).
Drought and heat risk
The Mediterranean Region is considered as a "hot-spot" of climate change, having been identified in global climate scenarios as one of the most responsive regions to climate change (Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). There is a consensus in scientific literature that average temperatures will rise across most of the Mediterranean Region, and that precipitation will decrease (Ulbrich et al. 2013; Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). Observed annual mean temperatures in the Mediterranean Region are now 1.4 °C higher than the average late-nineteenth-century levels particularly during the summer months (Cramer et al., 2018).
Loss of biodiversity
Yes, whilst improvements have been recorded for several species and habitats, Malta’s biodiversity continues to experience various pressures and threats (ERA, 2018d), including land development, invasive species, over-exploitation of species and climate change. (Malta Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, 2018).
Limited knowledge about biodiversity
The Malta National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) reports that the results of the Eurobarometer Surveys on Attitudes of Europeans towards Biodiversity in 2007 and 2010 indicate that 14.4% and 18% respectively of Maltese respondents had heard of the term “biodiversity” and knew what it meant. A survey commissioned by MEPA in 2011 indicates that out of the 500 persons interviewed, 24.6% of Maltese respondents heard of the term “biodiversity” and knew what it meant. In general there is a need to continue enhancing biodiversity awareness and gain more knowledge on the meaning of ‘biodiversity’. (ERA, 2018d).
Terrestrial biodiversity (SDG15)
Yes, through the promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity
: Balzan, M. V., Caruana, J., Zammit, A. 2018. Assessing the capacity and flow of ecosystem services in multifunctional landscapes : Evidence of a rural-urban gradient in a Mediterranean small island state. Land Use Policy, 75, 711–725. Retrieved from: doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.08.025.

Beatley, T., Newman, P. 2013. Biophilic cities are sustainable, resilient cities. Sustainability 5(8):3328–3345. Available at:

Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 2019. Sustainable Development Report 2019: Transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Information obtained: 2019-10-23. Available at:

Cramer, W., Guiot, J., Fader, M., Garrabou, J., Gattuso, J.-P., Iglesias, A., Lange, M.A., Lionello , P., Llasat , M.C., Paz, S., Peñuelas, J., Snoussi, M., Toreti , A., Tsimplis, M.N., Xoplaki, E. 2018. Climate change and interconnected risks to sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0299-2.

ERA. 2018d. State of the Environment Report 2018: Chapter 8: Biodiversity. Reporting status from 2009 to 2015. Information obtained: 2019-11-08. Available at:

ERA. 2018e. Investing in the Multi-functionality of Green Infrastructure (GI) – An Information Document to support GI Thinking in Malta. Information obtained: 2019-11-08. Available at:

Il-Majjistral. (s.a.). Rehabilitation of sand dunes. Information obtained: 2019-11-15. Available at:

Il-Majjistral. 2019. Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park. Information obtained: 2019-11-18. Available at:

Lionello, P., Scarascia, L. 2018. The relation between climate change in the Mediterranean region and global warming. In Regional Environmental Change, 2018, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1481–1493.

Malta Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 2018. Information obtained: 2019-11-01. Available at:

Ulbrich U, Xoplaki E, Dobricic S, García-Herrera R, Lionello P, Adani M, Baldi M, Barriopedro D, Coccimiglio P, Dalu G, Efthymiadis D, Gaetani M, Galati MB, Gimeno L, Goodess CM, Jones PD, Kuglitsch FG, Leckebusch GC, Luterbacher J, Marcos-Moreno M, Mariotti A, Nieto R, Nissen KM, Pettenuzzo D, Pinardi N, Pino C, Shaw AGP, Sousa P, Toreti A, Trigo RM, Tsimplis M. 2013. Past and current climate changes in the Mediterranean region. In: Navarra A, Tubiana L (eds) Regional Assessment of Climate Change in the Mediterranean. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 9–52. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-5781-3_2.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2019. Using Green Roofs to Reduce Heat Islands. Information obtained: 2019-11-10. Available at: