Invasive trees in Għajn Riħana valley will be replaced by 1,600 indigenous ones as part of a €1.1 million rehabilitation initiative.

The project will also see the restoration of over 5,000 cubic metres of traditional rubble walls and stone bridges at the valley.

The majority of the project will be supported by EU funds, with the remaining 20 per cent financed through Ambjent Malta.

The €1.1 million Għajn Riħana rehabilitation forms part of a project that will also see €200,000 invested in Liemu Valley in the limits of Rabat.

Ambjent Malta’s principal scientific officer Alexander Borg Galea told Times of Malta that the rubble walls of the area were not authentic.

Some had been built with large boulders and in particular areas, the walls had degraded completely. He added that these would be rebuilt with the correct type of stone.

“These will be rebuilt correctly in the traditional way to prevent the loss of agricultural soil and more importantly to promote the fauna that thrives in these walls,” Mr Borg Galea said.

Meanwhile, the project will see the removal of the invasive acacia trees, as they are choking out indigenous flora.

They will be replaced by 1,600 indigenous trees, including the white poplar (Populus alba), narrow leaved-ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), white willow (Salix alba) and the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus).

“These are plants that can be traditionally found in our valleys. We chose them because they are attractive to pollinators and because they will help in promoting biodiversity by sheltering local fauna,” Mr Borg Galea said.

The project was announced on Friday by Environment Minister Jose Herrera, European Affairs Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and Ambjent Malta Director General Herman Galea.

Dr Herrera said that the government was obliged to preserve Maltese biodiversity and undo the damage done in the past when invasive species where planted carelessly.

“We must be careful in ensuring the mistakes of the past are not repeated," he added.