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Salina National Park

General view of Salina National Park 


Background

In 2004 a project was launched by the then Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment, to afforest and develop recreational areas within sites utilised for the deposition of building material as well as abandoned agricultural land. Derelict land located at the southern tip of Qawra, covering an area of approximately 49,000m2 was included in a master plan for the development of a new National Park. This area was converted into the present Salini National Park, which was developed in such a way as to offer recreational spaces for visitors whilst respecting the historical and natural value of the immediate surroundings. Later, Kennedy Grove was then integrated into the Salina National Park, forming the lower extension to the Park. Additional works have been carried out over the past years including additional tree planting through the Tree4U Campaign, refurbishing of park formal area and installation of playing equipment.

Kennedy Grove 


Site History

The word ‘Salini’ means salt pans. The Phoenicians introduced salt pans to many Mediterranean countries and it is thus possible that these were introduced locally in their times. The existing Salini site, which one can observe from the Park, is around 400 years old, making them the oldest and largest on the Maltese islands. The salt pans were exploited during Roman times when the bay extended further inland into the valley, known today as Burmarrad. It thus provided a well protected natural harbour close to their city of Melite, known today as Mdina and Rabat. Grand Master La Vallette further enlarged the salt pans at Salina to replace a existing structures at Mellieħa, close to Għadira Bay. In the 17th century, Grand Master Olaf de Wignacourt invested over 6000 ‘skudi’ for the building of a factory on this site, from which salt was exported as its production exceeded the local demand.
 
 
General view of the park 


The Kennedy Grove Memorial forms part of the lowest extension of the Salina Park and was named in honour of the ex-American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. This memorial was officially inaugurated on the 29th May 1966, which incidentally coincided with the day of birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (29th May 1917), the 35th President of the United States of America. The central monument dedicated to President Kennedy is the work of Architect Joseph Spiteri Dorman who, at the time of the inauguration of the monument said:

“. . . like to think that the President would have approved this memorial for its sensitive proportions, its simplicity, lack of ostentation, its natural grace and strength. It has a sense of style.”
 
 
 The central monument dedicated to President J.F.Kennedy


Works and Inauguration

Since the 19th century large stretches of natural salt marsh habitat were lost, owing to reclamation of the upper area of Burmarrad aimed at halting the malaria infestation. These efforts resulted in the successful eradication of Anopheles mosquito and creation of agricultural land. Through the decades, garigue areas were later developed or used for the deposition of building material. 
Towards the end of the 1990’s, large parcels of land were reclaimed by the government, and consequently plans for afforested and landscaped areas were drawn up. Plans where therefore drafted to transform stretches of derelict agricultural land and dumping sites within Qawra into a series of terraced fields, which were established through the addition of significant quantities of soil acquired from construction sites. This gave the area a more rural aspect, thereby complimenting the local rural environment. To further this aim long stretches of rubble walls were also built.


Recreational area and fountain

 
These terraced fields, along with the Kennedy Grove Memorial, were afforested and transformed into recreational areas. Within the Salini National Park one can find a variety of ornamental shrubs and indigenous trees such as Aleppo Pine, Cypress, Olive Tree, Carob Tree, African Tamarisk, Holm Oak, Bay Laurel, Pomegranate, Chaste Tree, Common Myrtle, Lentisk, Shrubby Orache, Maltese Lavender, Olive leaved germander, Oleander and much more.


Holm Oak 


Bay Laurel 


Lentisk


Foothpath inside the park


Tree planting initiatives were carried out with the support of local and foreign individuals, various local companies, financial institutions and embassies. In January 2011, a large olive tree was planted in a central location of this new extension to mark the planting of the 100,000th tree under the Tree4U Campaign. In order to irrigate the green areas within the park during dry seasons, a water reservoir was installed under the car park having a holding capacity of 1,728m3.


Area afforested with Aleppo Pines

 
In the first quarter of 2017 the central formal area was re-embellished with artificial turf. An adjacent new playing area was equipped with access for all playing features including rubber matting, artificial turf, lamp posts and lighting bollards, including also new signage works and stainless-steel bins around the central water fountain and water cascade areas. 


Kids play area 


The proposed 2018/9 park extension, which covers an approximate area of 15,000m2, shall seek to complement and diversify the recreational product by providing new recreational spaces catering to different people from different groups and ages. This proposed extension incorporates reservoirs, water stream, an open space with water features and three areas for playing equipment for children of different ages. These playing areas are segregated based on the various afforested sections.  In addition to the 1,059 trees planted within this site in the past years, around 2000 more indigenous trees will be planted under the Tree4U campaign. This area together with Salina Park and Kennedy Grove will become a one whole park with an area covering 85,000 sq. m.


Recreational area with open fountain

 
The recent rehabilitation and restoration of the neighbouring salt pan system has also enhanced the historical and cultural value of the area.


Attractions

The focal point of the Salina Park consists of a centralised recreational area, including an open fountain, playing equipment with accompanying footpaths, artificial turf and rubberised matting. An artificial water stream flows from this open area towards a lateral entrance to the park. This area is very popular with visitors, especially parents with children as well as foreigners who wish to spend time relaxing on the surrounding park benches, whilst children play and enjoy themselves.
 
 
Open space with water features 


The Kennedy Grove extension and embellishment, which covers an approximate area of 3,000m2, complement and diversify the recreational product to provide a holistic recreational area which caters for all ages. This extension incorporates printed concrete footpaths, new lighting lamp posts and low lighting bollards, an open space with a wooden gazebo meeting area, five areas for playing equipment for children of different ages, accessible for all and an outdoor gym equipment. These playing areas are segregated by the various sections of the afforestated area. Around 200 more indigenous trees were planted under the 34U campaign in this area to add up with the hundreds of trees planted in the past years.


Afforested areas and surroundings 

 
Sites of historical interest within walking distance:

Chapel of the Annunciation of the Virgin (16th century Roman Catholic chapel) at Naxxar Road, Salini – Mass celebrated every Saturday at 1700hrs; enquire with Naxxar parish
  • Rock cut tombs (2nd to 4th century A.D.) located close to the Chapel of the Annunciation
  • Redoubt and ‘fougasse’ or rock hewn mortar (mid 18th century) at Salini Coast Road
  • Coastal Watch Towers of Għallis and Qalet Marku, two out of the thirteen watch towers built between 1658 and 1659, at Salini Coast Road (Guardianship ‘Din L-Art Helwa’)


Artificial water stream at the park 


Ecological Importance

The Salini area is characterised by an estuary with salt marsh and fresh water vegetation. Within the bay of Salini, sea water intermixes with rain water originating from a complex of valley systems leading to ‘Is-Salini’. This resulting salt marsh at ‘Is-Salini’ is rich in species diversity, having a composition different from that of other salt marshes in the Maltese Islands. This site supports a number of endemic flora and fauna species, a large number of which are endangered and/or threatened.


Recreational area including water feature

 
Tas-Sokkorsu canal, which is found near to the Kennedy Grove area, offers a suitable habitat for salt march plants such as the Annual Beard-Grass (Papolypogon monspelienesis), Shrubby Sea-blite (Suaeda vera), Opposite-leaved saltwort (Salsola soda) and Common Reed (Phragmites australis) are common. Is-Salini also supports the very rare Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass (Puccinellia fasciculata) and the Sea Couch Grass (Elymus pycnanthus). The Sea Couch is only known locally from this site, and it is worth mentioning that this plant was recorded only from Malta and Madeira, Spain.


Artificial water stream

 
The park also hosts a garrigue community based on Mediterranean Thyme (Thymbra capitata), Mediterranean Heath (Erica multiflora), Olive-leaved Buckthorn (Rhamnus oleoides) and Olive-leaved Germander (Teucrium fruticans). Other endemic flora found within the higher garrigue area includes Maltese Sea Chamomile (Anthemis urvilleana), Maltese Fleabane (Chiliadenus bocconei) and Maltese Dwarf Garlic (Allium lojaconoi).

The salt pans and salt marsh provide an important ornithological site for migratory birds as well as a suitable habitat for salt marsh and brackish water species. The Common Reed clusters provide shelter for select bird species, including herons, egrets, mallards, pipers and waders.

A number of endemic fauna are recorded from this locality, some of which occur only at is-Salini including the earwig (Anisolabis maritima), the Jumping spider (Neaetha membrosa), the grasshopper (Heteracris adspersa), the Sand hopper (Gammarus aequicauda) and the Staphylindi beetle (Querdius simplicifrons). The park also hosts the Maltese Top Snail (Trochoidea spratti) and Maltese Door Snail (Muticaria macrostoma), both of which are endemic to the Maltese Islands.


Picnic area

 
Visitor Information

The Salina Park incorporates a parking area with 37 parking bays, including spaces for persons with restricted mobility.

A privately operated cafeteria and public convenience provide the park with essential sanitary and ancillary facilities one expects from such recreational areas. The park is also serviced with a free filtered Wi-Fi internet system.

Park opening hours: 6:30am to 11:30pm

Signs in all areas: Please follow the information boards found on site.

Visitors who do not follow these regulations shall be asked to leave the Park.