MAL003 - L-Ghadira z-Zghira


This marshland is found in the southeastern corner of L-Għadira Natura 2000 site, is triangular in shape and is bordered to the south by a road used by farmers to access agricultural land located to the south of the marshland. The western boundary of the marshland is demarcated by the boundary wall of the Mellieha Holiday Complex. The northeastern boundary of the marshland is flanked by the arterial road. Thus, the marshland, in its current state is surrounded by anthropogenic influences. Il-Ħofra saline marshland is included within the same Natura 2000 site as MAL001 (L-Għadira). Il-Ħofra saline marshland is a Level 1 Area of Ecological Importance. The marshland is surrounded by a buffer Level 3 Area of Ecological Importance. Il-Ħofra is characterised by a muddy substratum on which a pool of brackish water collects in the wet season. The marshland is maintained by seasonal fluctuations in precipitation, run-off, evaporation, and groundwater seepage. Coastal tidal fluctuations have an insignificant control. During the dry season the water in the saline marshland becomes progressively brackish until it becomes hyper saline and finally dries out completely until the following wet season. The ecosystem at the marshland depends significantly on groundwater from the Mellieha coastal aquifer. Run-off from a series of valleys dissecting the northern side of the Mellieha Ridge also feeds the marshland. The marshland receives run-off from Wied Ingraw, Wied il-Ħanżira, Wied il-Ħalqun, and Wied ta’ Randa. Run-off from il-Bisqra also reaches Il-Ħofra marshland.The marshland is relatively degraded. The central marshland area is characterised by typical marshland species, namely Juncus subulatus, Juncus acutus, and Phragmites australis. These species grow around a depression where water collects. Dried Salicornia ramosissima and Suaeda maritima were recorded growing in the depression. The marshland area (dominated by Juncus subulatus) creates a boundary around a central area that includes Tamarix sp trees and a more disturbed area dominated by Dittrichia viscosa and Foeniculum vulgare. Single specimens of Urginea pancration and Anthyllis hermanniae were recorded in this area. Specimens of Juncus acutus also grow within this area. A number of species typical of coastal, salty habitats were recorded including Aetheorhiza bulbosa, Lotus cytisoides, Atriplex prostata, and Parapholis filiformis. Other species recorded include, Evidence of disturbance to the site included dumped material and the presence of species such as Cynodon dactylon, Oxalis pes-caprae, Dittrichia viscosa, Galium murale, Lagurus ovatus, and Foeniculum vulgare. Inula crithmoides and Beta maritima also grow within the marshland. The marshland is further disturbed as a result of its interruption by the arterial road running along its northern boundary. The northern edge of the site includes mounds of material, presumably resulting from the construction of the road embankment. This area is dominated by Arundo donax. Several Acacia saligna trees grow closer to the western boundary of the marshland (close to the Mellieha Holiday Complex boundary wall). The westernmost area of the marshland (boundary with the Mellieha Holiday Complex) includes species typical of degraded habitats and segetal species.This wetland once supported a significant population of Carex extensa which is listed in the Red Data Book (RDB) as an Endangered Species with a restricted distribution in the Maltese Islands. Threats to Il-Ħofra include: •Disturbance of the watercourses that supply it with freshwater; •Pollution related to agricultural activities in the neighbouring areas; and •Trampling from cars associated with the urbanisation of the area especially in summer months. Degradation of the marshland is also attested to artificial planting, mostly of Acacia saligna and Arundo donax, which was carried out around the Għadira wetland, following the re-engineering works.

Wetland data

Basic information
Wetland location: Marine/Coastal
Wetland type: Natural
Wetland area: 0.80 Ha
Hydrological interaction: -  
Water salinity: Brackish (5.0-18.0 g/l)
Type of fresh water input: Catchment area (precipitation)
Surface water runoff There is no obvious water outflow
Open water area (%): 5 - 25
Hydroperiod: Permanent
Geographic information
Census district: Northern
Island: Malta
Local council: Il-Mellieha
Longitude: 14.352040 East
Latitude: 35.966180 North
Wetland condition
Wetland status (MEDWET): 3 - Original habitats/landform partially modified (10-50% untouched)
Ramsar wetland type
Type Coverage (%)
H -- Intertidal marshes; includes salt marshes, salt meadows, saltings, raised salt marshes; includes tidal brackish and freshwater marshes
Property status
Protection statuses
Protection status category Protection status subcategory Area's name Code Coverage area (%) Legislation
National Area of Ecological Importance Bur salmastru fil-Hofra (l/tal-Mellieha) 174740 100 Development Planning Act (Act VII of 2016)
National Bird Sanctuary Il-madwar ta' l-Ghadira, fil-Bajja tal-Mellieha 11704 89 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
International Special Areas of Conservation - International Importance L-Inhawi ta' l-Ghadira 330721 100 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
International Special Protection Areas L-Inhawi ta' l-Ghadira 555552404 100 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
CDDA protection status
CDDA code CDDA category
MT01 Area of Ecological Importance
MT03 Bird Sanctuary
MT11 Special Areas of Conservation - International Importance
MT13 Special Protection Areas
Ecosystem services
Type of ecosystem service Ecosystem service Scale of Βenefit (%) Importance
Supporting services Provision of habitat
Regulatory services Storm hazard regulation
Regulatory services Water regulation
Activities on wetland
Activity Intensity
010 = Habitat conservation High
423 = disposal of inert materials High
701 = water pollution High
954 = invasion by a species High
Activities on catchment area
Activity Intensity
100 = Cultivation High
110 = Use of pesticides High
120 = Fertilisation High
130 = Irrigation High
402 = discontinuous urbanisation High
430 = Agricultural structures Medium
501 = paths tracks cycling tracks High
502 = roads motorways High
701 = water pollution High
810 = Drainage High
830 = Canalisation High
Impact Intensity
EW- = Increase in wilderness/wildlife values High
HF- = Habitat fragmentation High
HL- = Habitat loss High
PF- = Fertilizer/Excess nutrient pollution High
PP- = Pesticide pollution
VC- = Change in vegetative species composition
VCX = Introduction of exotic floral species
VP- = Decrease in population of floral species
VS- = Change in vegetative structure
Habitat types
Type Coverage (%)
1410 Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi) 26 - 50
92D0 Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae) 26 - 50
Vegetation types
Type Coverage (%)
Shrubby / Arborescent 26 - 50
Emergent 5 - 25
Wet meadow 26 - 50
Species Presence status References
Acacia saligna
Aetheorhiza bulbosa
Anthyllis hermanniae subsp. melitensis
Antirrhinum siculum
Arundo donax
Atriplex prostrata
Beta vulgare subsp. Maritima
Chasmanthe bicolor
Conyza bonariensis
Cynodon dactylon
Diplotaxis erucoides
Diplotaxis tenuifloia
Dittrichia viscosa
Erodium moschatum
Euphorbia pinea
Foeniculum vulgare
Galium murale
Glebionis coronaria
Jacobaea crithmoides
Juncus acutus
Juncus subulatus
Lagurus ovatus
Lotus cytisoides
Mercurialis annua
Oxalis pes-caprae
Parapholis filiformis
Phoenix canariensis
Salicornia ramosissima
Suaeda maritima
Tamarix africana
Urginea pancration
Mammals Presence status in wetland
Mustela nivalis (L., 1766)
Myotis punicus (Felten, 1977)
Nyctalus noctula (Schreber, 1774)
Pipistrellus kuhlii (Kuhl, 1817)
Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Schreber, 1774)
Plecotus austriacus (Fischer, 1829)
Rhinolophus hipposideros (Bechstein, 1800)
Suncus etruscus (Savi, 1822)


Number of individuals


Calidris alpina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Calidris minuta (Leisler, 1812)
Ardeola ralloides (Scopoli, 1769)
Ixobrychus minutus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Acrocephalus schoenobaenus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Cisticola juncidis (Rafinesque, 1810)
Emberiza calandra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Erithacus rubecula (Linnaeus, 1758)
Passer hispaniolensis (Temminck, 1820)
Phylloscopus collybita (Vieillot, 1817)
Phylloscopus sibilatrix (Bechstein, 1793)
Phylloscopus trochilus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Saxicola rubetra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sylvia communis (Latham, 1787)
Sylvia melanocephala (J.F. Gmelin, 1789)
Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas, 1764)


Presence status in wetland


Chalcides ocellatus tiligugu (Gmelin, 1789)
Chamaeleo chamaeleon (Linnaeus, 1758)
Coluber viridiflavus carbonarius (Bonaparte, 1833)
Hemidactylus turcicus (Arnold, 1980)
Podarcis filfolensis maltensis (Mertens, 1921)
Tarentola mauritanica (Linnaeaus, 1758)
Telescopus fallax (Fleischmann, 1831)
Zamenis situla (Linnaeus, 1758)


Presence status in wetland

Tetragnatha extensa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anthicus fenestratus (W.L.E. Schmidt, 1842)
Cyclodinus humilis (Germar, 1824)
Cyclodinus minutus (La Ferté-Sénectère, 1842)
Leptaleus rodriguesi (Latreille, 1804)
Anoxia australis (Gyllenhal, 1817)
Scarabeus semipunctatus (Fabricius, 1792)
Allophylax picipes melitensis (Baudi de Selve, 1876)
Ammobius rufus (Lucas, 1849)
Erodius siculus melitensis (Reitter, 1914)
Pseudoseriscius cameroni (Reitter, 1902)
Stenosis melitana (Reitter, 1894)
Stenosis schembrii (Canzoneri, 1979)
Protrama baronii
Philanthus raptor siculus (Giordani Soika, 1944)
Smicromyrme n.sp.(?)
Tachyagetyes n.sp. (?)
Prionyx viduatus (Christ, 1791)
Coleophora mellechella (Toll, 1962)
Brachytrupes megacephalus (Lefèvre, 1827)
Odontura stenoxipha (Fieber, 1853)
Gammarus aequicauda (Martynov, 1931)

Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd (2004) Mellieħa Bay: Regional Environmental Assessment.

Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd (2009) Existing to existing Seabank Hotel and extension of facilities, Triq il-Marfa – Mellieħa: Environmental Impact Statement

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