Action Plan Details

Qawra/Dwejra Heritage Park Action Plan

Approval date 29-11-2005

1. Background

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) is responsible for the identification and protection of sites of scientific and cultural importance. The scope of MEPA’s activities is to safeguard such sites according to established international practices and standards. In order to achieve its aims, MEPA undertakes responsibility for the preparation of management plans for such sites. The areas known as Qawra and Dwejra, on the western coast of the island of Gozo, have for several years been considered as prime candidates for designation as sites of scientific and cultural importance, and their protection was specifically promoted in the Structure Plan for the Maltese Islands. Their potential as areas protected for natural and cultural aims was first officially recognised in 1992, when the House of Representatives approved the above-mentioned Structure Plan.  

MEPA has approved this Action Plan as the Qawra/Dwejra Heritage Park. This includes proposals for 23 management measures to be implemented in order for the site to achieve the desired levels of protection of natural and culture heritage, in compliance with the above-mentioned laws and plans. As specified in the Development Planning Act, this document was subject to a period for public consultation between the 12th of April 2005 and the 24th of May 2005. During this discussion period, a number of meetings with members of the public and different sectors were organised. MEPA also receive comments from the public regarding the Plan in general as well as specific aspects of it. These comments were reviewed and considered by MEPA before the Plan was submitted for final approval to the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment.  

The preparation of this Plan, as well as part of its implementation, are being financed by the European Community through the LIFE Third COUNTRIES scheme. Efforts to obtain funding through this scheme were coordinated by Nature Trust (Malta) together with MEPA and the Italian branch of the international non-governmental organisation (NGO) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Italia). The preparation of the Action Plan was overseen by a Committee appointed by the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment. Members of the Committee were representatives of the following organisations: ? Ministry for Gozo; ? MEPA; ? San Lawrenz Local Council; and  ? Nature Trust (Malta).  0.4 Upon approval of this Plan, a Management Board will be constituted and will be responsible for the implementation of this Plan and the management of the Park.   

The selection of the Qawra/Dwejra site in Gozo was based on several factors which endow this site with a unique character, both in terrestrial and in marine areas. These include, for instance, a range of landscape types typical of the Maltese Islands, ranging from terraced fields and garigue to cliffs, valleys and caves. The site is furthermore characterised by various rare geological features that give the site a unique and interesting quality. The Qawra/Dwejra areas are also of great importance for biodiversity despite their small size, as they provide a habitat for several species of flora and fauna. Several of these species are endemic to the Maltese Islands, that is, they are found only in these Islands and nowhere else in the world. Several of the species endemic to the Maltese Islands are present in this site. Additionally, the area is one of few in the Maltese Islands where visitors can still enjoy a sense of wilderness.  

The site is also unique, however, because of man’s influence upon this natural setting. Several archaeological and cultural features testify as to the long history of human land use in the area. Nowadays, the visitor to the site is immediately made aware of man’s influence through various notable features, such as the terraced fields and hardstone quarries. The area today sustains several economic activities, including agriculture, fishing, quarrying, diving and several tourism-related enterprises such as boat trips. The area is frequented by approximately 750,000 visitors every year, both locals and tourists. There is also a small community of summer residents, who occupy boathouses in the Qawra area.  

2. Documents