Malta: Restoring Ramla - The Gaia Foundation is protecting Malta’s Coastal Heritage


On that magical frontier for life, where the land meets the sea, you may find one of the most beautiful flowers of the Mediterranean basin, the Sea Daffodil, Pancratium maritimum, but it is becoming increasingly rare. However, across the dunes of ir-Ramla, on the Maltese island of Gozo, drifts of them thrive in their sandy habitat in the searing heat and incandescent light of midsummer, cooled only by salty sprays of seawater carried on the wind.

The dunes of Ramla bay

The dunes of ir-Ramla, Gozo

The Sea Daffodil comes into bloom when most Mediterranean flowers have long since withered and died. The large bulbs bury themselves deep into the sand and the new shoots make their way to the surface through naturally shifting sands. On still, summer evenings, as the skies begin to darken and the dunes are softly lit by an iridescent moon, the Sea Daffodils release a delicate yet exotic perfume and the flowers are pollinated by a species of Mediterranean Hawk Moth, hopefully securing future generations.

Pancratium maritimum

The Sea Daffodil, Pancratium maritimum

In recent years this dune ecosystem, the most extensive in the Maltese archipelago and a site of international importance, has been subject to negative environmental impacts and pressures like trampling, off-roading and fires. The invasion of alien species, in particular the Giant Reed, Arundo donax, has threatened the natural vegetation, inhibiting the growth of native species or displacing them entirely. 

The ecological importance of this area has long been recognized and it is now a protected site. The Gaia Foundation of Malta is working to reduce the negative impacts on this and other protected sites in the Maltese islands and is supporting the natural regeneration of disturbed and degraded areas, the most urgent task being the removal of non-native species.  The management of these sites also requires regular monitoring, patrols and the enforcement of site regulations. The Gaia Foundation underpins this work by raising awareness of environmental issues both at the conservation sites themselves and at their visitor centre at Ghajn Tuffieha, Malta.

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