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10 May 2009
Five-year plan for Maltese megalithic temples

Heritage Malta is asking for feedback to a draft management plan for the megalithic temples that outlines the conservation challenges and the objectives for the next five years. Among the challenges identified are physical accessibility and the impact of climate change.
     The plan proposes the promotion of farming within the sites' buffer zones, particularly around Ġgantija in Gozo, and the mitigation of the visual impact of development around the temples. The viability of extending World Heritage inscription of megalithic temples to Kordin III temples will also be examined.
     The draft plan states that Heritage Malta will identify alternatives to the scaffolding on the fa├žade of Ġgantija while research will continue to seek ways to stabilise the megalithic structures without resorting to sheltering. Government institutions, NGOs and the public are being encouraged to offer their recommendations, vision and aspirations for the Unesco World Heritage Sites so that the finalised plan would be adopted in November.
     Heritage Malta chairman Joseph Said said almost 10 per cent of the world's Unesco World Heritage Sites (eight) were in Malta, which meant resources were constrained. "Funds are what they are and the country's assets are out of proportion to its size," he said, pointing out how much it cost to keep certain sites open and how low the revenue from entrance tickets was, even if some 500,000 people visit these sites each year. Being World Heritage Sites, the agency was under enormous pressure to protect them, Mr Said said, adding that the Unesco label was an honour but also an obligation.
     Heritage Malta CEO Luciano Mule' Stagno said applications would be submitted for the next round of European Regional Development Funds to finance cultural and rural projects. However, the management plan lists the development of a design brief and the seeking of funding for this project. The document can be viewed on www.heritagemalta.org. The Scientific Committee for the Conservation of the Megalithic Temples also issued a Conservation Plan for the Megalithic Temples on cd which complements the draft management plan.
     Feedback can be submitted until the end of July to worldheritagesites@gov.mt, or to Prehistoric Sites Department, Heritage Malta, National Museum of Archaeology, Republic Street, Valletta. eanwhile, the temples were benefiting from EU funds for the building of shelters and walk ways. Hagar Qim, Tarxien and Ġgantija temples are to be preserved to the extent of the Hypogeum by the year 2013.

Sources: Times of Malta, The Malta Independent (7 May 2009)

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