MAL008 - Is-Salini


Is-Salini Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is found within Salini Bay, which is located on the northeast coast of Malta between Naxxar and St. Paul’s Bay. Is-Salini is one of the last remaining salt marshes in the Maltese Islands. It is characterised by an estuary whereby sea water meets and mixes with rainwater originating from a complex of valley systems leading to Is-Salini. The Salini estuary is dynamic and dependent on the build-up of dead sea grass foliage. The consistent presence of freshwater makes this marshland unique to other similar habitats in the Maltese Islands and consequently the marshland supports several endemic species as well as a relatively large number of rare, endangered, and/or locally threatened species. It is the largest extant marshland in the Maltese Islands, though it used to be considerably larger before parts of it were reclaimed for health reasons, for salt harvesting, or for agriculture. Other parts of the site were later built over or afforested and turned into a recreational area (Kennedy Grove). One of the major features in the area is the seventeenth century salt harvesting complex, which was built in the inner reaches of Salina Bay and is now flanked on all except the seaward side by the remnants of the original marshland, which has been restricted to a canal-like feature, known as Is-Sokkorsu. The habitats of importance in this SAC (listed in the Habitats Directive under Annex I) include: • Coastal lagoons (Habitat 1150*) ; • Large shallow inlets and bays (Habitat 1160); • Salicornia (Twiggy Glasswort) and other annuals (plants that complete their lifecycle within one year) colonising mud and sand (Habitat 1310); • Mediterranean salt meadows (subject to flooding by sea water) (Habitat 1410); • Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs perennial vegetation of marine saline muds) (Habitat 1420); • Garrigue/phrygana dominated by the Shrubby Kidney Vetch and Wild Thyme (Habitat 5410); and • Southern riparian galleries and thickets which are dominated by Tamarisk trees and Chaste trees growing along the valley watercourse (Habitat 93D0). The salt marsh is highly diverse in habitat composition and it is often difficult to distinguish between the different habitat types. Despite the number of habitat types recorded, however, it should be noted that Salini has been subjected to continual significant disturbance, which has obliterated the character of the original communities. Is-Salini was known to be the only or one of few remaining localities in the Maltese Islands for a number of plant species such as the Marsh Couch, Beaked Tassel Pondweed, Saltmarsh Bindweed, Slender sea hard-grass, and the Drooping Broomrape. It is also ecologically important for the fauna it supports. Most of these are typical of salt marsh areas and some have only been recorded at this site including molluscs, arthropods, moths and other invertebrates. The Tas-Sokkorsu canal is an important habitat for the brackish water native fish, the Killifish, an Annex II species (Habitats Directive). Notably, is-Salini provides ideal habitat for migratory bird species. In addition, a small breeding population of the Reed Warbler makes use of the reed bed at this site. A number of activities exert pressure on the ecology of the site. The site experienced significant negative effects with the development at Ta’ Mattew as a result of which, the freshwater spring as well as garrigue habitat were lost. Other interventions in more recent years have included the dredging and removal of the sediment that had accumulated in the southern branch of the canal over the years. This action resulted in the removal of certain vegetation communities inside and along the banks of the canal. This would also have impacted on the blue carbon storage of the site. Other pressures include impacts from agricultural runoff which is likely to be causing eutrophication of the watercourse as well as potential contamination from pesticides. Issues related to site abandonment have also impacted the site including dumping, vandalism, disturbance to accessible areas such as the reed bed and the introduction of invasive and non-native plant species. Poaching and trapping also result in negative impacts.

Wetland data

Basic information
Wetland location: Marine/Coastal
Wetland type: Artificial
Wetland area: 14.10 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 (%): 76 - 95
Hydroperiod: Permanent
Geographic information
Census district: Northern
Island: Malta
Local council: San Pawl Il-Bahar
Longitude: 14.422650 East
Latitude: 35.946000 North
Biological significance
Biological significance: High
Ramsar wetland type
Type Coverage (%)
5 -- Salt exploitation sites; salt pans, salines, etc.
Property status
Protection statuses
Protection status category Protection status subcategory Area's name Code Coverage area (%) Legislation
National Area of Ecological Importance Sigar f'Kennedy Grove, is-Salini, limiti ta' San Pawl il-Bahar u n-Naxxar 14777 22 Development Planning Act (Act VII of 2016)
National Area of Ecological Importance/Site of Scientific Importance Bur salmastru, Xaghri, Masgar u Steppa fis-Salini, limiti ta' San Pawl il-Bahar u n-Naxxar 194409 100 Development Planning Act (Act VII of 2016)
National Bird Sanctuary Il-madwar ta' Kennedy Grove u s-Salini 194412 100 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
International Special Areas of Conservation - International Importance Is-Salini 330719 99 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
International Special Protection Areas Il-Bahar ta' madwar Ghawdex 555589829 7 Environment Protection Act (Act I of 2016)
International Transitional waters Is-Salini MT TW 01 100 Water Framework Directive
CDDA protection status
CDDA code CDDA category
MT01 Area of Ecological Importance
MT02 Area of Ecological Importance/Site of Scientific 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
Cultural services Cultural heritage
Regulatory services Erosion regulation
Regulatory services Flood hazard regulation
Supporting services Nutrient cycling
Supporting services Provision of habitat
Cultural services Recreation and tourism
Regulatory services Storm hazard regulation
Regulatory services Water purification
Activities on wetland
Activity Intensity
010 = Habitat conservation High
020 = Resource conservation High
030 = Species conservation High
040 = Land restoration High
161 = forest planting Low
243 = trapping poisoning poaching Low
340 = Salt works High
610 = Interpretative centres High
830 = Canalisation High
910 = Silting up High
952 = eutrophication High
Activities on catchment area
Activity Intensity
010 = Habitat conservation Low
020 = Resource conservation Low
030 = Species conservation Low
040 = Land restoration Low
100 = Cultivation High
110 = Use of pesticides High
120 = Fertilisation High
130 = Irrigation High
161 = forest planting Medium
220 = Leisure fishing Low
243 = trapping poisoning poaching Low
401 = continuous urbanisation High
430 = Agricultural structures Low
502 = roads motorways High
710 = Noise nuisance High
810 = Drainage High
Impact Intensity
FCP = Introduction of animal pests High
PS- = Sewage pollution High
Habitat types
Type Coverage (%)
1150 * Coastal lagoons 76 - 95
1160 Large shallow inlets and bays 5 - 25
1310 Salicornia and other annuals colonizing mud and sand 5 - 25
1410 Mediterranean salt meadows (Juncetalia maritimi) 5 - 25
1420 Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi) 5 - 25
92D0 Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae) 5 - 25
Vegetation types
Type Coverage (%)
Wet meadow
Shrubby / Arborescent
Species Presence status References
Arthrocnemum macrostachyum
Arundo donax
Asparagus aphyllus
Aster squamatus
Atriplex prostrata
Atriplex sp. indet,
Avena sterilis
Calystegia sepium
Capparis orientalis
Chenopodium album
Cressa cretica
Cynodon dactylon
Elymus flaccidifolius
Equisetum ramosissimum
Hordeum leporinum
Jacobaea crithmoides
Juncus acutus
Juncus subulatus
Lolium spp.
Lythrum junceum
Melilotus messanensis
Orobanche cernua
Parapholis filiformis
Phalaris minor
Phragmites australis
Polygonum aviculare
Polypogon monspeliensis
Populus alba
Portulaca oleracea
Potentilla reptans
Ruppia maritima
Salicornia ramosissima
Salsola soda
Suaeda maritime
Suaeda vera
Tamarix Africana
Mammals Presence status in wetland
Erinaceus algirus (Lereboullet, 1842)
Myotis blythii (Tomes, 1857)
Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Schreber, 1774)
Plecotus austriacus (Fischer, 1829)
Suncus etruscus (Savi, 1822)


Number of individuals


Circus aeruginosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pandion haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758 )
Anas acuta (Linnaeus,1758)
Anas clypeata (Linnaeus,1758)
Anas crecca (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anas penelope (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anas platyrhynchos (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anas querquedula (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anas strepera (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anser albifrons (Scopoli, 1769)
Aythya ferina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Aythya marila (Linnaeus, 1758)
Aythya nyroca (Gűldenstädt, 1770)
Cygnus olor (Gmelin, 1789)
Marmaronetta angustirostris (Ménétriés, 1832)
Netta rufina
Tadorna ferruginea (Linnaeus, 1764)
Tadorna tadorna (Linnaeus, 1758)
Apus affinus (JE Gray, 1830)
Apus apus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Apus pallidus (Shelley, 1870)
Actitis hypoleucos (Linnaeus, 1758)
Alca torda (Linnaeus, 1758)
Alle alle (Linnaeus, 1758)
Arenaria interpres (Linnaeus,1758)
Calidris alba (Pallas, 1764)
Calidris alpina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Calidris canutus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan, 1763)
Calidris maritima (Brünnich, 1764)
Calidris minuta (Leisler, 1812)
Calidris temminckii (Leisler, 1812)
Charadrius alexandrinus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Charadrius dubius (Scopoli, 1786)
Charadrius hiaticula (Linnaeus, 1758)
Childonias niger (Linnaeus, 1758)
Chlidonias hybrida (Pallas, 1811)
Chroicocephalus genei (Linnaeus, 1766)
Fratercula arctica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Gallinago gallinago (Linnaeus, 1758)
Gallinago media (Latham, 1787)
Gelochelidon nilotica (Gmelin, 1789)
Glareola pratincola (Linnaeus, 1766)
Haematopus ostralegus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Himantopus himantopus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Larus fuscus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Larus michahellis (Pallas, 1811)
Larus minutus ( Pallas, 1776)
Larus ridibundus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Limosa limosa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Lymnocryptes minimus (Brünnich, 1764)
Numenius arquata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Numenius tenuirostris (Vieillot, 1817)
Phalaropus lobatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Philomachus pugnax (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pluvialis squatarola (Linnaeus, 1758)
Recurvirostra avosetta (Linnaeus, 1758)
Scolopax rusticola (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sterna sandvicensis (Latham, 1787)
Sternula albifrons (Pallas, 1764)
Tringa erythropus (Pallas, 1764)
Tringa glareola (Linnaeus, 1758)
Tringa nebularia (Gunnerus, 1767)
Tringa ochropus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Tringa stagnatilis (Bechstein, 1803)
Tringa totanus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vanellus vanellus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Xenus cinereus (Güldenstädt, 1775)
Ardea alba (Linnaeus, 1758)
Ardea cinerea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Ardea purpurea (Linnaeus, 1766)
Ardeola ralloides (Scopoli, 1769)
Botaurus stellaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Bubulcis ibis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Bubulcis ibis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Ixobrychus minutus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Nycticorax nycticorax (Linnaeus, 1758)
Platalea leucorodia (Linnaeus, 1758)
Plegadis falcinellus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Streptopelia decaocto (Frivaldszky, 1838)
Alcedo atthis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Merops apiaster (Linnaeus, 1758)
Upupa epops (Linnaeus, 1758)
Cuculus canorus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Coturnix coturnix (Linnaeus, 1758)
Fulica atra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Gallinula chloropus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Porphyrula martinica (Linnaeus, 1756)
Porzana parva (Scopoli, 1769)
Porzana porzana (Linnaeus, 1766)
Porzana pusilla (Pallas, 1776)
Rallus aquaticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Acrocephalus arundinaceus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Acrocephalus melanopogon (Temminck, 1823)
Acrocephalus schoenobaenus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Acrocephalus scirpaceus (Hermann, 1804)
Acrocephalus scirpaceus (Hermann, 1804)
Anthus campestris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anthus cervinus (Pallas, 1811)
Anthus novaseelandiae (Gmelin, 1789)
Anthus pratensis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Anthus trivialis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Cecropis daurica (Laxman, 1769)
Cettia cetti (Temminck, 1820)
Cisticola juncidis (Rafinesque, 1810)
Delichon urbicum (Linnaeus, 1758)
Emberiza calandra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Emberiza schoeniclus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Erithacus rubecula (Linnaeus, 1758)
Ficedula albicollis (Temminck, 1815)
Ficedula hypoleuca (Pallas, 1764)
Ficedula parva (Bechstein, 1792)
Hippolais icterina (Vieillot, 1817)
Hirundo rustica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Lullula arborea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Luscinia megarhynchos (C.LinnaeusBrehm, 1831)
Luscinia svecica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Motacilla alba (Linnaeus, 1758)
Motacilla cinerea (Tunstall, 1771)
Motacilla flava (Linnaeus, 1758)
Muscicapa striata (Pallas, 1764)
Oenanthe hispanica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Oenanthe oenanthe (Linnaeus, 1758)
Oriolus oriolus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Passer hispaniolensis (Temminck, 1820)
Phoenicurus ochruros ( S.G. Gmelin, 1774)
Phoenicurus phoenicurus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Phylloscopus bonelli (Vieillot, 1819)
Phylloscopus collybita (Vieillot, 1817)
Phylloscopus sibilatrix (Bechstein, 1793)
Phylloscopus trochilus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Prunella modularis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Remiz pendulinus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Riparia riparia (Linnaeus, 1758 )
Saxicola rubetra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Saxicola torquatus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Sturnus vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sylvia atricapilla (Linnaeus, 1758)
Sylvia borin (Boddaert, 1783)
Sylvia cantillans (Pallas, 1764)
Sylvia communis (Latham, 1787)
Sylvia melanocephala (J.F. Gmelin, 1789)
Turdus iliacus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Turdus philomelos (C.LinnaeusBrehm, 1831)
Phalacrocorax aristotelis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Phalacrocorax carbo (Linnaeus, 1758)
Phoenicopterus roseus (Pallas, 1811)
Jynx torquilla (Linnaeus, 1758)
Podiceps cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Podiceps nigricollis (C.Linnaeus Brehm, 1831)
Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas, 1764)
Calonectris diomedea (Scopoli, 1769)
Hydrobates pelagicus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Puffinus mauretanicus (Lowe, 1921)
Puffinus yelkouan (Acerbi, 1827)
Asio flammeus (Pontopiddan, 1763)
Otus scops (Linnaeus, 1758)


Presence status in wetland


Chalcides ocellatus (Forskal, 1775)
Chamaeleo chamaeleon (Linnaeus, 1758)
Coluber viridiflavus carbonarius (Bonaparte, 1833)
Hemidactylus turcicus (Arnold, 1980)
Podarcis filfolensis maltensis (Mertens, 1921)
Tarentola mauritanica (Linnaeaus, 1758)
Zamenis situla (Linnaeus, 1758)


Presence status in wetland

Discoglossus pictus (Otth, 1837)


Presence status in wetland

Aphanius fasciatus (Valenciennes, 1821)


Presence status in wetland

Pisaura maderiana (Kulczyński, 1895)
Neaetha membrosa (Simon, 1868)
Tetragnatha extensa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Cyclodinus constrictus (Curtis, 1838)
Cyclodinus humilis (Germar, 1824)
Acupalpus elegans (Dejean, 1829)
Anisodactylus virens winthemi (Dejean, 1829)
Pogonus chalceus (Marsham, 1802)
Achenium striatum (Latreille, 1804)
Brachygluta globulicollis aubei
Anisolabis maritima (Bonelli, 1832)
Labidura riparia (Pallas, 1773)
Nemotelus anchora (Loew, 1846)
Ligyrocoris spp.
Mesostenus grammicus (Gravenhorst, 1829)
Eumenes dubius (Saussure, 1852)
Oecogonia delluccai
Megacraspedus lativalvellus (Amsel, 1954)
Agdistis melitensis (Amsel, 1954)
Apatema fasciata melitensis (Stainton, 1859)
Symmoca melitensis (Amsel, 1954)
Orthetrum brunneum (Fonscolombe, 1837)
Gammarus aequicauda (Martynov, 1931)
Heleobia (Semisalsa) stagnorum (Gmelin, 1791)
Hydrobia acuta (Draparnaud, 1805)
Hydrobia ventrosa (Montagu, 1803)
Tudorella melitensis (G.B. Sowerby II, 1843)
Melanoides tuberculata (O. F. Müller, 1774)
Trochoidea spratti (L. Pfeiffer, 1846)
Muticaria macrostoma (Cantraine, 1835)

Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd (2012b) PA 03883/08 & PA 03758/09 Reconstruction and Upgrading of Coast Road from Junction NA11 and NA10 & Widening and Realignment of Coast Road from Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Naxxar to St Paul’s Bay. Environmental Impact Statement.

Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd (2012c) 03883/08 & PA 03758/09 Reconstruction and Upgrading of Coast Road from Junction NA11 and NA10 & Widening and Realignment of Coast Road from Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Naxxar to St Paul’s Bay. Appropriate Assessment.

Adi Associates (2012d) Salini Rehabilitation Project: Conservation & Management Framework, Version 3. San Gwann, October 2012; vi + 52pp.

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

Deidun, A., Diacono, I., Tigano, C. & Schembri, P.,(2002) Present distribution of the threatened killifish Aphanius fasciatus (Actinopterygii, Cyprinodontidae) in the Maltese Islands. Central Mediterranean Naturalist, 3(4), pp. 177-180.

ERA (2015) The 2 nd Water Catchment Management Plan for the Malta Water Catchment District 2015 - 2021