Heritage Malta is asking for feedback to a draft management plan for the megalithic temples that outlines the conservation challenges and the objectives for the next five years.

Among the challenges identified are physical accessibility and the impact of climate change.

The plan proposes the promotion of farming within the sites' buffer zones, particularly around Ġgantija in Gozo, and the mitigation of the visual impact of development around the temples.

The viability of extending World Heritage inscription of megalithic temples to Kordin III temples will also be examined.

The draft plan states that Heritage Malta will identify alternatives to the scaffolding on the façade of Ġgantija while research will continue to seek ways to stabilise the megalithic structures without resorting to sheltering.

Another aim is to strengthen tertiary education in order to develop human resources needed for the conservation of the temples.

Should bird trapping no longer be permitted, a selection of traditional traps in the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra archaeological park would be identified for preservation as part of the cultural landscape.

Government institutions, NGOs and the public are being encouraged to offer their recommendations, vision and aspirations for the Unesco World Heritage Sites so that the finalised plan would be adopted in November.

This is the first management plan of the sort driven by the national heritage agency, which is planning one for the Hypogeum and another for Valletta eventually - two other World Heritage Sites.

Heritage Malta chairman Joseph Said said almost 10 per cent of the world's Unesco World Heritage Sites (eight) were in Malta, which meant resources were constrained.

"Funds are what they are and the country's assets are out of proportion to its size," he said, pointing out how much it cost to keep certain sites open and how low the revenue from entrance tickets was.

But the authorities were "seriously" appreciating Malta's wealth of heritage and would be focusing on funding it, he said, adding that despite financial problems, several projects were being undertaken.

Being World Heritage Sites, the agency was under enormous pressure to protect them, Mr Said said, adding that the Unesco label was an honour but also an obligation.

Heritage Malta CEO Luciano Mule' Stagno said applica- tions would be submitted for the next round of European Regional Development Funds to finance cultural and rural projects.

Shelters at Tarxien Temples, for example, should be up within four years, thanks to such funding, he said.

However, the management plan lists the development of a design brief and the seeking of funding for this project. The document can be viewed on www.heritagemalta.org and picked up from the agency's head office in Merchants Street, Valletta.

Feedback can be submitted until the end of July to worldheritagesites@gov.mt, or to Prehistoric Sites Department, Heritage Malta, National Museum of Archaeology, Republic Street, Valletta.

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