Climbers lend a hand at Majjistral Park

On a windy Saturday morning in November six volunteers from the Malta Climbing Club headed over to Majjistral Park with ropes and harnesses in tow. This outing wasn’t about climbing rocks, but rather about controlling an invasive species of Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum).

Fountain Grass at the edge of a cliff above Il-Prajjiet (Golden Bay). Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park

Gilbert Vancell, one of the rangers at Majjistral Nature & History Park reached out to the MCC to see if we could lend a hand with clusters of Fountain grass that had taken over some stretches of cliff close to the entrance of the park. The club is always happy to lend a hand in situations where our specialised skills can benefit the natural environment.

Carmen David, a club member from Romania who’s also a biologist; together with Stephen Farrugia, club PRO, handled the gardening at height armed with hoes, gloves and shopping bags. It was a very, very windy affair, and our vertical gardeners had their hands full trying to keep the plumes of fountain grass from flying away.

Carmen David and Stephen Farrugia clearing Fountain Grass from the cliffs of Majjistral Park. Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park

In the run up to our vertical gardening intervention the Majjistral park rangers had started to deal with the clumps of fountain grass that were on solid ground, so our newer members helped out with feet firmly on the ground, carrying several bags of grass from the lower levels of the cliff up to the waiting pickup truck. A shout out to Massimiliano, Emanuele, Stephanie and Christine who gave up their Saturday morning for a worthy cause.

Cliff top rendezvous. Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park

By the end of the morning the MCC volunteers had collected over 9 large bags of fountain grass and other small bits of rubbish that they came across in their wanderings. The rangers told us that this is one of the first steps in controlling the invasion of Fountain Grass into the rest of the park – this half day of work will have seriously reduced the dispersal of seeds into the park. If we keep up the effort in the coming years the invasion will be controlled.

MCC volunteers with their haul of fountain grass, and Gilbert Vancell, Majjistral park ranger, on the far R. Photo by Majjistral Nature & History Park

For more information about Il-Majjistral Nature & History Park visit their facebook page

The hotel’s boundary wall provided a handy rigging point. Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park
Note quite the usual tool you would see climbers wielding! Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park
Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park
Stephen shopping for Fountain Grass. Photo by Gilbert Vancell / Majjistral Nature & History Park

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