Life Saving Buskett Project is the abbreviated name of the LIFE+ Project entitled ‘Soil stabilisation measures to protect Annex I habitats in Buskett-Girgenti Natura 2000 site’.
The project aims to conserve the habitats of EU importance composed of mature trees at Buskett, along the watercourse and the banks of Wied il-Luq (Poplar Valley). The Annex I habitats targeted by the project include:
- Priority Habitat 5230 – *Arborescent matorral with Laurus nobilis. This is a habitat typical of humid maquis characterised by dense thickets of Bay laurel trees. The foliage is evergreen and aromatic with a sweet scent.
- Habitat 92A0 – Salix alba and Populus alba galleries. Although denoting the presence of Willow and Poplar, this habitat is also characterised by Elm and Ash trees, all of which are deciduous (leaf-shedding) and typical of riparian woodlands.
- Habitat 9320 – Olea and Ceratonia forests. This is a maquis habitat represented by small to medium-sized evergreen trees, mainly Olive and Carob and other associated shrubs like Lentisk and Buckthorn, which are able to thrive in dry conditions.
- Habitat 9340 – Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia forests. In Malta, this woodland habitat is represented by old forest remnants composed of evergreen Holm Oak trees. These trees are known for producing acorns.
- Habitat 9540 – Mediterranean pine forests with endemic Mesogean pines. This type of woodland is made up of mature Aleppo Pine trees. The leaves are evergreen and needle-shaped, with a characteristic turpentine smell. Like other conifers, these trees produce their seeds in cones.
Various measures will be undertaken through the LIFE Saving Buskett project to stabilise the soil in areas supporting the abovementioned Annex I habitats and include the repair, restoration and rebuilding of retaining dry stone walls and arches defining part of the watercourse, and planting of characteristic trees. Invasive alien species, which compete with the native trees will also be removed to enhance the quality of the existing habitats.
The project budget is €2.7 million, 50% of which is co-financed by the EU LIFE+ Funding Programme under the Nature and Biodiversity priority area. The project commenced in July 2013 and is expected to be completed by May 2018.