The Majjistral Nature and History Park, Malta’s first National Park, is located in the North-West of the Island of Malta and includes a coastal stretch of about 6 km in length covering the area from Anchor Bay (Il-Prajjet) to Golden Bay (Il-Bajja tal-Mixquqa) and inland toward ix- Xagħra l-Ħamra. The Park includes elements of natural and cultural interest and is, thereby, a valuable tourism product. Within this area it is possible to find both areas of rural and military heritage, unique habitats for flora, natural caves and outstanding coastal cliffs. These create a landscape which attracts many visitors, both local and foreign. The coastal zone hosts a number of important habitats and represents an area of ecological importance, which now form part of the list of Natura 2000 sites of international importance. The rural, vernacular and military heritage of the area are intimately linked to the geographical landscape in which they are situated and form an important cultural landscape. These features include cart-ruts, long rubble walls (dry stone walls), farmhouses, small beehives, tombs dating to the Classical period, natural caves and numerous corbelled stone huts. The Park is named for the North western region or wind (Maltese: Majjistral).
The management of the Majjistral Nature and History Park has been entrusted to 3 non-governmental and non-profit organisations that have been involved in the management of cultural, natural and coastal resources for a number of years. These 3 organisations are:
- Din l-Art Ħelwa, which has restored and is managing around twenty-three heritage buildings ranging from coastal towers, chapels and lighthouses, as well as the Foresta 2000 afforestation site in Mellieħa.
Mission statement: To safeguard Malta’s cultural heritage and the natural environment for future generations, which includes the hands-on conservation and restoration of our built and natural heritage.
- The Gaia Foundation, which works in the field of integrated coastal zone management, and has been managing the Natura 2000 sites at Għajn Tuffieħa in Malta and Ramla Bay in Gozo.
Mission statement: Taking its name from Mother Earth in Greek Mythology, The Gaia Foundation’s mission centres around the interconnection of all things and life on earth, and around working towards harmony and social and environmental justice for all creatures. We humanoids are thus included in the equation. Gaia is therefore not just an ecology organisation, but a “Whole Earth” organisation.
- Nature Trust (Malta), are currently managing five nature parks on the Maltese Islands as well as being pioneers in setting up a wildlife rescue team and environmental education aspect such as Eko-skola and Young reports for the environment. Nature Trust Malta is also the local representatives of Blue Flag International.
Mission Statement: Committed to the conservation of Maltese nature by promoting environmental awareness, managing areas of natural and scientific interest, and lobbying for effective environmental legislation.
The 3 organisations have set up an association called the ‘Heritage Parks Federation’ to facilitate the integrated management of the Majjistral Park. This was registered by public deed in the acts of Notary Dr. Hugh Grima on the 6th of February 2008.
The Federation has a distinct legal personality, and is run by an executive committee made up of persons appointed from amongst its 3 founder members, and chaired by a rotating presidency. The members of the committee are:
- Rudolf Ragonesi (The Gaia Foundation)
- Martin Galea (Din l-Art Ħelwa)
- Member to be appointed (Nature Trust)
The heritage parks federation mission statement is:
i. To manage and supervise the management of heritage parks in the Maltese islands;
ii. To develop policies and practices for the management and supervision of heritage parks;
iii. To liaise with other NGOs, organisations and government, on matters related to the management and designation of heritage parks;
iv. To lobby on relevant issues that affect heritage parks,
v. To promote the representation of NGOs in the management of heritage parks in Malta;
vi. To do anything ancillary and deemed necessary to achieve the above, including the raising of funds, the taking out of loans, the purchase, sale and hypothecation of property and the opening of bank accounts.
Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park is a member of the European Rangers Federation (ERF) and the Europarc Federation. For more information on ERF check out their websites European rangers and Europarc.