The Maltese islands barely cover an area of 300 square kilometres and yet, they enjoy a varied landscape characterised by cliffs, ridges, hills and valleys. There are over a hundred valleys on the main island of Malta and many provide important waterways during the rainy season and present some of the most beautiful and varied scenery. The most accessible include the Qlejgħa valley and White Poplar Valley (Wied il-Luq). Both are frequented by thousands of visitors, particularly during the weekends and are also quite popular with tourists during the winter months. Malta’s high population density, the influx of millions of tourists and rampant construction are not being matched by the upkeep of existing rural areas, the designation of new green areas and the expansion of wooded areas. Therefore, such locations are actually suffering from the ravages of too many visitors and need to be expanded and managed better with the help of park managers and environmental wardens. However, many lesser known valleys provide excellent trails for nature treks and active tourism. But, unfortunately, many are becoming increasingly unpassable due to a variety of reasons including the pressures of development from the politically potent construction lobby, the destruction of environmentally sensitive Outside Development Zones (ODZ), lack of proper pathways and signage, privacy signs that may or may not be legitimate, lack of access, squatting, hunting and trapping. This paper explores some of the problems of access which trekkers, hikers and tour guides face while traipsing across the Maltese landscape. Special reference is made to the Baħrija area as a case study, and the methodological approach taken in this research is Participatory Research. The overall conclusion is that there are serious issues of access on the islands of Malta, which need to be addressed by the authorities. Decisions need to be made at a national level regarding the balance between privacy and public access, which consider the pressures of individuals, developers and the tourism industry.





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