Bank of Valletta staff and families enjoy a spring Sunday at Foresta 2000
It was a first for many at Foresta 2000 when Bank of Valletta staff and their families gathered at the Marfa Ridge for BirdLife Malta’s “Discover Foresta 2000” activity - a guided walk of the Foresta 2000 site which was hosted by Ray Vella, BirdLife Malta’s Reserves’ Warden.
The Reserves’ Warden led the group of 25 along the trails, stopping to identify the various species of spring plants and flowers along the walk. The bright pink Field Gladiolus (Ħabb il-Qamħ tar-Raba) and the Red Poppy (Pepprina Ħamra) could be witnessed in abundance at this time of the year, with the rare Scented Bug Orchid (Orkida tfuħ) also being spotted. The walk proceeded through areas of steppe, garrigue and woodland maquis following the pathway lined with the native Aleppo Pine (Żnuber), Holm Oak (Balluta) and Carob trees (Ħarrub).
The highlight for the children proved to be the rock pools, which have been recently restored as part of ongoing habitat management carried out at the site. Children were fascinated by the vast number of Painted Frogs, known as Iż-Żrinġ in Maltese, dwelling at the water’s edge. The Painted Frog is the only native amphibian of the Maltese Islands and is found in only a handful of locations where there are suitable freshwater habitats.
Both adults and children were able to enjoy the beauty of the countryside, away from technology and at one with nature. One impressed employee at Bank of Valletta commented, “My son has really enjoyed the day; I never knew places as lovely as this existed in Malta.”
Foresta 2000 is Malta’s biggest afforestation project which aims to restore the Mediterranean maquis habitat which has been previously lost to agriculture. Thousands of young trees and shrubs are planted every autumn and winter, many of which are sponsored. Despite the years of neglect and direct damage to the site, over 200 species of plants have been recorded at Foresta 2000 and more than 24,000 native young trees and shrubs now flourish on the site.
Spring is the best time of year to enjoy nature at Foresta 2000, and with an abundance of wildflowers, butterflies and fantastic views across Għadira Bay, it is the perfect setting to become fully immersed in the Maltese wildlife. Foresta 2000 is located on the Marfa Ridge in Mellieħa and is open all year round. Entrance is free of charge.
BOV sponsors BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda environmental education scheme for primary schools, carried out in collaboration with the Directorate for Quality Standards in Education (DQSE).