Walking along the paved pathway at Wied Fulija, you would never guess that this was once a landfill infested with pests gorging happily on the two billion kilogrammes of waste deposited there.
One cannot help but notice how this area in Żurrieq has flourished and is today bursting with wildlife. Lined with shrubs and trees, this area offers some of the most beautiful sea views extending as far as Filfla. It is a highly sought-after area by people of all ages that go there to get away from the rigours of daily life to enjoy a nice stroll or to sit and watch the sun go down. There are also those that seek the area for their early morning run taking advantage of the stillness at that time of the day.
Wied Fulija served as a landfill for 42 years until its closure in 1996. After securing an investment of €4.5 million, WasteServ embarked on a project to rehabilitate this landfill and restore it to its natural habitat. This landfill was transformed into a green area that the public can now enjoy. The two waste mounds were re-contoured at a safe angle, covered with a subsoil and a topsoil, and revegetated to blend with the surrounding area. A paved pathway, dotted with benches, was also created to allow access to the cliff’s edge.
The project embraces a low-maintenance design. This was achieved by choosing tree and shrub species that are known for their hardiness and are well-suited to the climatic conditions of this area. Around 43,000 trees and shrubs were planted as part of this extensive rehabilitation including Maltese Everlasting (Helichrysum melitense), Olive-leaved Germander (Teucrium fruticans) and Golden Samphire (Limbarda crithmoides).
In a short span of time since this project was completed in July 2021, one can already admire the way nature has slowly but surely started to reclaim the 10 hectares of land. By returning this piece of land to its natural habitat, this former landfill is contributing to increased biodiversity whilst complementing the conservation of the Natura 2000 area along the cliffs between Ix-Xaqqa and il-Ponta ta’ Bengħisa. Encompassing the coastal parts of Siġġiewi, Qrendi, Żurrieq and Birżebbuġa, this Natura 2000 area is one of the largest Special Area of Conservation in Malta, occupying over 370 hectares that stretch from Lapsi to Bengħisa.
To contribute to the already rich habitat of this area, WasteServ worked to make the site an appealing habitat where the Scopoli’s Shearwater (Calonectris Diomedea) can nest, and the endemic Maltese honeybee (Apis mellifera ruttneri) can thrive. This was done through collaborations with BirdLife Malta and Malta Beekeepers’ Association respectively. It involved the installation of a number of nest boxes and beehives that will contribute to the conservation of these species.
This landfill rehabilitation project has undoubtedly regenerated this area. Wied Fulija is now home to one of the most diverse ecosystems. And while this landfill had been an eyesore and a source of terrible smells for so many years, today most people come to this area to relax and enjoy the open space. Residents can now reap the benefits of this project and once again safely enjoy this green space and soak in the stunning views this site offers at their own pleasure.
A few planted shrubs does not constitute a healthy anf fully fledged ecosystem. It will take many years (100s) and no further human interference before anything closely resembling an ecosystem establishes itself there. To say Wied Fulija is home to diverse ecosystems is simply incorrect and misleading.