GOZ005 - Ir-Ramla


This site lies within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is located north-east of the island of Gozo. The seaward area of the site borders Il-Grigal ta’ Malta Marine Protected Area. The site includes a water body that receives water from the mouth of Wied ir-Ramla. Marshlands are supported during the wet season. On the coastal side, this site is one of the few sites in the Maltese Islands still supporting sand dunes. Southern riparian galleries and thickets dominated by Tamarisk trees and Chaste Trees (to a lesser extent) grow on the banks of the water body. The dune system at Ramla is almost intact, and the best example in the Maltese Islands of this habitat type. The sand dunes at Ramla host a variety of rare and endangered invertebrate species, some of which are only found within this SAC. Several activities exert pressure on the ecology of the site. Ramla Bay is an important recreation location for tourists and locals, which can lead to littering, disturbance and trampling. Limited parking space is present near the site and a field that is used for agriculture during winter is used as a parking lot during the summer months. Haphazard parking could lead to trampling, disturbance and habitat modification. Parts of the site are seriously threatened by fires from illegal barbecues and in the past these have led to the loss of populations of the rare Bushy Restharrow (Ononis natrix). Various kiosks and restaurants and mobile kiosks are found within the catchment area. Camping is also practiced on the car park where campers stay throughout the summer months as well as along the coastal stretch above the dunes just west of Ramla beach. The dune vegetation can be negatively affected by excessive trampling and overuse of the area, including from camping, caravans and off-roading, all of which are prohibited at this site. The more recent recreational pursuit known as bouldering may lead to soil erosion and. The importance of the site for recreation has resulted in several regular interventions and impacts that can affect the hydrologic regime of the area. Such interventions have included the removal of pebbles from the beach, the removal of Posidonia from the beach, pollution of Ramla Valley’s water course from agriculture, and over-abstraction from the aquifer affecting groundwater quality.Alien species damage ecosystems and communities by out-competing the native species. The most damaging invasive species at Ramla include the Giant Reed, Kaffir Fig, Cape Sorrel and the grapevine. The cover of the Giant Reed and the grapevine is increasing in view of the abandonment of former agricultural land backing the dune area. Care is also needed when implementing afforestation schemes; Tamarisk trees were planted in the area in the past, some of which are not the naturally occurring species for the Maltese Islands. The introduction of atypical species affects soil nutrients and pH conditions, negatively affecting the process of sand stabilisation. On the other hand, at this site, the planting of the French Tamarisk allowed the dune to increase in extent and also allowed the development of fixed dunes.

Wetland data

Basic information
Wetland location: Marine/Coastal
Wetland type: Natural
Wetland area: 0.30 Ha
Hydrological interaction: Yes 
Water salinity: Brackish (5.0-18.0 g/l)
Type of fresh water input: Catchment area (precipitation)
Surface water runoff Other
Open water area (%): 5 - 25
Hydroperiod: Permanent
Geographic information
Census district: Gozo and Comino
Island: Gozo
Local council: Ix-Xaghra
Longitude: 14.283640 East
Latitude: 36.060940 North
Wetland condition
Wetland status (MEDWET): 2 - Original habitats/landform still predominant (>50%)
Ramsar wetland type
Type Coverage (%)
J -- Coastal brackish/saline lagoons; brackish to saline lagoons with at least one relatively narrow connection to the sea
Property status
Protection statuses
Protection status category Protection status subcategory Area's name Code Coverage area (%) Legislation
National Area of Ecological Importance Ramla l-Hamra, Ghawdex 14812 100 Development Planning Act (Act VII of 2016)
National Protected Beaches Ir-Ramla l-Hamra 346048 47 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
International Special Areas of Conservation - International Importance L-Inhawi tar-Ramla 330733 100 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
Other Scheduling - Archaeology Buffer Zone for the Remains of a Roman Villa 93
CDDA protection status
CDDA code CDDA category
MT01 Area of Ecological Importance
MT12 Protected Beaches
MT11 Special Areas of Conservation - International Importance
Ecosystem services
Type of ecosystem service Ecosystem service Scale of Βenefit (%) Importance
Supporting services Provision of habitat
Regulatory services Water purification
Regulatory services Water regulation
Activities on wetland
Activity Intensity
010 = Habitat conservation Low
030 = Species conservation Medium
701 = water pollution Low
790 = Other pollution/human impacts/activities Low
952 = eutrophication Low
954 = invasion by a species Medium
Activities on catchment area
Activity Intensity
100 = Cultivation Low
110 = Use of pesticides Low
120 = Fertilisation Low
130 = Irrigation Low
502 = roads motorways High
621 = nautical sports High
701 = water pollution Low
790 = Other pollution/human impacts/activities Medium
954 = invasion by a species Medium
Impact Intensity
EB- = Increase in aesthetic qualities Low
ED- = Increase in sediment removal/retention Medium
EP- = Reduction of salt intrusion potential Low
ES- = Increase in water supply Low
EU- = Increase of tourist/recreation potential Low
PU- = Increase of turbidity Medium
Habitat types
Type Coverage (%)
1210 Annual vegetation of drift lines < 5
1240 Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp. < 5
2110 Embryonic shifting dunes < 5
2210 Crucianellion maritimae fixed beach dunes < 5
2220 Dunes with Euphorbia terracina < 5
92D0 Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae) 76 - 95
Vegetation types
Type Coverage (%)
Halophytic 5 - 25
Ammophilous 76 - 95
Wet meadow
Shrubby / Arborescent 5 - 25
Species Presence status References
Arthrocnemum glaucum
Arundo donax
Elytrigia juncea
Eryngium maritimum
Euphorbia paralias
Jacobaea crithmoides
Juncus sp.
Medicago marina
Opuntia ficus-indica
Pancratium maritimum
Salsola kali
Sporobulus pungens
Tamarix africana
Vitex agnus-castus
Mammals Presence status in wetland
Crocidura sicula calypso (Hutterer, 1991)
Erinaceus algirus (Lereboullet, 1842)
Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Schreber, 1774)


Number of individuals


Apus apus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Hirundo rustica (Linnaeus, 1758)


Presence status in wetland


Chalcides ocellatus tiligugu (Gmelin, 1789)
Chamaeleo chamaeleon (Linnaeus, 1758)
Coluber viridiflavus carbonarius (Bonaparte, 1833)
Podarcis filfolensis maltensis (Mertens, 1921)


Presence status in wetland

Argiope lobata (Pallas, 1772)
Nemesia macrocephala (Ausserer, 1871)
Synema globosum (Fabricius, 1775)
Anthicus fenestratus (W.L.E. Schmidt, 1842)
Eurynebria spp.
Harpalus spp.
Masoreus spp.
Ophonus spp.
Othiorhynchus spp.
Hypocaccus dimidatus (Illiger, 1807)
Xenonychus spp.
Pseudoseriscius cameroni (Reitter, 1902)
Stenosis schembrii (Canzoneri, 1979)
Xanthomus pallidus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Odontellina sexoculata (Deharveng, 1981)
Aphis spp.
Graphosoma lineatum spp. Italicum (O.F. Müller, 1766)
Apis mellifera (Linnaeus, 1758)
Bembecinus tridens (Fabricius, 1781)
Bembix oculata (Panzer, 1801)
Cerceris quadricinta (Panzer,1799)
Philanthus raptor siculus (Giordani Soika, 1944)
Camponotus barbaricus (Emery, 1905)
Crematogaster scutellaris (Olivier, 1792)
Leptothorax spp.
Messor capitatus (Latreille, 1798)
Halictus fulvipes (Klug, 1817)
Ammophila heydeni (Dahlbom, 1845)
Prionyx lividocinctus (A. Costa, 1861)
Sphex pruinosus (Germar, 1817)
Polistes omissus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vanessa cardui (Linnaeus, 1758)
Colias croceus (Geoffroy, 1785)
Pieris brassicae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Macronemurus appendiculatus (Latreille, 1807)
Anax imperator (Leach, 1815)
Sympetrum fonscolombii (Selys, 1840)
Anacridium aegyptium (Linnaeus, 1764)
Brachytrupes megacephalus (Lefèvre, 1827)
Talitrus saltator (Montagu, 1808)
Porcellionides pruinosus (Brandt, 1833)
Tylos europaeus (Arcangeli, 1938)
Tylos latreillei sardous (Arcangeli, 1938)
Cochlicella conoidea (Draparnaud, 1801)

Adi Epsilon Consortium (2014a) L-Inhawi tar-Ramla – Natura 2000 Management Plan (SAC). Prepared for the Malta Environment and Planning Authority under CT3101/2011. San Gwann, Malta, pp. 112 + Annex