Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



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1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

L-Inħawi tad-Dwejra u tal-Qawra, inkluż Ħaġret il-Ġeneral

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:

Name/Organisation:Environment and Resources Authority

1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site proposed as SCI:2004-04
Date site confirmed as SCI:2008-03
Date site designated as SAC:2016-12
National legal reference of SAC designation:Government Notice No. 1379 of 2016, in accordance with the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2016 (S.L. 549.44)


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km]:


2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Mediterranean (100.00 %)


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3.1 Habitat types present on the site and assessment for them

Annex I Habitat types Site assessment
Code PF NP Cover [ha] Cave [number] Data quality A|B|C|D A|B|C
      RepresentativityRelative SurfaceConservationGlobal
1240  info      4.34  0.00 
1420  info      1.26  0.00 
3140  info      0.01  0.00 
3170  info      0.01  0.00 
5330  info      8.07  0.00 
5430  info      4.59  0.00 
8210  info      20.95  0.00 
92D0  info      0.33  0.00 
  • PF: for the habitat types that can have a non-priority as well as a priority form (6210, 7130, 9430) enter "X" in the column PF to indicate the priority form.
  • NP: in case that a habitat type no longer exists in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Cover: decimal values can be entered
  • Caves: for habitat types 8310, 8330 (caves) enter the number of caves if estimated surface is not available.
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation)

3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
P6302Anacamptis pyramidalis      DD         
BA243Calandrella brachydactyla     
BA243Calandrella brachydactyla     
BA010Calonectris diomedea    300  350   
BA136Charadrius dubius     
BA289Cisticola juncidis     
BA289Cisticola juncidis     
BA206Columba livia     
P4079Cremnophyton lanfrancoi    20  100 
BA103Falco peregrinus     
BA096Falco tinnunculus     
BA096Falco tinnunculus     
BA123Gallinula chloropus     
P4083Helichrysum melitense     
P4084Hyoseris frutescens     
BA459Larus cachinnans     
P4114Linaria pseudolaxiflora     
BA383Miliaria calandra     
BA383Miliaria calandra     
BA281Monticola solitarius     
BA281Monticola solitarius     
P4085Palaeocyanus crassifolius     
BA464Puffinus yelkouan    30  50   
BA303Sylvia conspicillata     
BA303Sylvia conspicillata     
BA305Sylvia melanocephala     
BA305Sylvia melanocephala     
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

The percentage given to the Habitat Class 'Shingle , Sea Cliffs and Islets', refers to Fungus Rock, and the Rupestral vegetation bordering the Cliffs of Dwejra. The remaining 5 percent, 'Other Land', refers to the remaining habitats: pebbly shore at Il-Qawra, Transport Network Margins, buildings (2.34%) and disturbed sites, as well as the Chaste Tree Tickets (0.33%) and Tamarisks found at il-Qawra. Abandoned agricultural fields are also present. The area, located at the western side of the island of Gozo, is composed of sheer Lower Coralline Limestone cliff and cliff plateau maritime communities, with Globigerina Limestone garrigue and steppic communities encountered further inland. The Dwejra area is quite peculiar in geomorphology, and is characterised by a triad of adjacent depressions, known as subsidence structures with three sub-circular collapsed features forming the two adjacent round-shaped bays of Dwejra and another feature located slightly inland where seawater enters though a cave (referred to as 'inland sea'). The whole western cliffs of Gozo possibly being what remains of a system of these structures. The subsidence structures, wave action and erosion have led to the separation of Ħaġret il-Ġeneral (referred to as Fungus Rock in British maps) from the mainland Gozo, forming an isolated islet, now protected as a Nature Reserve.

4.2 Quality and importance

The Dwejra area in general is quite rich in endemic and/or threatened species. The area can be subdivided into a series of communities and sites, notably: the Coastal Cliffs & Rdum Communities; the Cliff plateau and Coastal Communities; the Widien; Il-Qattara Freshwater Pool; and the Ħaġret il-Ġeneral Nature Reserve. With the preamble that Maltese cliff and rdum communities are endemic to the Maltese Islands; the coastal cliffs of the area are known as the most species diverse of the Maltese Islands. These support a wide array of Maltese endemic and sub-endemic species, of which the most characteristic is Helichrysum melitense, this being the only known extant location of this critically endangered species. The site is also one of the few areas in Gozo for the equally endangered endemic Atriplex lanfrancoi (= Cremnophyton lanfrancoi) and the Maltese rock-centaury, Centaurea crassifolia (= Palaeocyanus crassifolius), which is rarer on the cliffs of Gozo than in Malta. Other important endemic cliff species include Hyoseris frutescens and Matthiola incana subsp. melitensis, both of which are essentially endemic to Gozo, except for isolated populations on the island of Malta, Salsola melitensis (= Darniella melitensis) and Chiliadenus bocconei. Other important species include the Pelago-Maltese endemic cliff carrot, Daucus rupestris; the Siculo-Maltese endemic Senecio pygmaeus; Crucianella rupestris; and the rare Senecio leucanthemifolius. All these species characterise this habitat as “Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation”. Whilst these endemic and sub-endemic species dominate the cliffs of the area, other non-endemic species are known. One can mention Capparis orientalis (= Capparis spinosa subsp. rupestris); Limbarda crithmoides; and the very rare Allium arvense, a species confined to the western cliffs of the island of Gozo. The cliff plateau and coastal communities of the area are also characterised by a variety of endemic and/or threatened species, and are mostly characterised by mosaic communities with phrygana communities based upon Hypericum aegypticum, the shrubby Lotus cytisoides and Cichorium spinosum; and Crithmo-Limonietea communities based upon the endemic Limonium melitensis, Crucianella rupestris, the endemic Anthemis urvilleana, Crithmum maritimum, Daucus gingidium, Plantago macrorhiza, and Urginea pancration. Other endemic species known from such coastal communities include the endemic Allium lojaconoi, Allium melitense, and Romulea melitensis. The latter is a species of indeterminate status. Aerohaline communities based upon Limbarda crithmoides and Arthrocnemum macrostachyum are also frequent all over the area, particularly in the more exposed maritime areas. Globigerina outcrops at Il-Ħofra tal-Berwin and the Lower Coralline Limestone karstland stretching from Fuq it-Tieqa to Ta' Slima support rich maritime garrigue communities characterised by the above species. Some of the coastal communities are also typified by labiate garrigues and pre-desert scrub communities; with the former being based upon Thymbra capitata and Teucrium fruticans, and the latter on Euphorbia dendroides, as at Fuq il-Bniet and parts of Wied Sufar. These communities also co-exist in various parts of the area, as at the Inland Sea area. Some of the cliff plateau and other maritime communities are also characterised by some rupestral species which extend their distribution range, such as the cliff-top overlooking the Inland Sea, where Helichrysum melitense, Matthiola incana subsp. melitensis, Salsola melitensis (= Darniella melitensis), Limonium melitensis, Crucianella rupestris, Hypericum aegypticum, Lotus cytisoides, Carlina involucrata, Euphorbia dendroides and Thymbra capitata co-exist. Similarly, Atriplex lanfrancoi (= Cremnophyton lanfrancoi is also known from Ta' Slima, as are Matthiola incana subsp. melitensis and Darniella melitensis, which blend with the Hypericum aegypticum phrygana in the area between Il-Ponta tal-Wardija and Il-Ponta ta' Harrux. Salsola melitensis (= Darniella melitensis) also characterises and dominates the Vegetation at Qawra and Wardija. An assemblage based upon Ononis natrix subsp. ramosissima and Lotus cytisoides is located along the sea-ward area and the southern aspect of It-Torri tal-Qawra, probably due to the fine sediment derived from the friable Globigerina Limestone. Such fine sediment might be the result of weathering and erosion caused by the wheels of vehicles parking along clearings in the area (refer to the vulnerability section). At the foot of the same tower located in the area, reddish carpets of Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum, with Lagurus ovatus and Silene colorata, characterise the site. Atriplex halimus had been planted along the road that leads to the Inland Sea in Dwejra. This shrub has spread and became naturalised at Ta' Karuzzini and Iċ-Ċnus. The area is also characterised by a series of dry valley systems, known as widien. This also includes a seasonal watercourse which is influenced by the saline conditions of the area and dries completely in the drier season. The vegetation of these widien is a mosaic of wetland communities, dry valley beds, coastal communities and, in some parts, disturbed communities. Wied Sufar is a wide, shallow valley flanked by gently sloping rocky sides. A series of dams have been built along the upper part of the watercourse, dividing the wide wied into several plots of land which are alternatively overrun by dense stands of Arundo donax. As the watercourse meanders towards the plain to join Wied Għorof and Wied il-Kbir, bushes of Vitex agnus-castus, a species which is considered as rare in the Maltese Islands, occupy the valley bed. The sides of Wied Sufar generally harbour the typical suffruticose shrubs of the mosaic coastal garrigue communities of the area, with Hypericum aegypticum, Euphorbia dendroides, Erica multiflora, Limbarda crithmoides, Ruta chalepensis, Teucrium fruticans, the Siculo-Maltese endemic Calendula suffruticosa var. gussonii (= Calendula sicula), and the grass Hyparrhenia hirta being some of the characteristic species. Towards the southern slope, this 'garrigue' grades into a rocky steppe towards the crest of the hill where it abuts alongside the abandoned terraced fields at Ta' Karuzzini. The narrow seasonal watercourse is flanked by a steep coralline limestone rock-face and runs through Wied Ghorof. The watercourse is characterised mostly by Atriplex prostrata and the alien Aster squamatus. The vegetation of the rocky banks is typified mostly by a mosaic of coastal type communities based upon Chiliadenus bocconei, Daucus spp., Euphorbia dendroides, Hyoseris frutescens, Hypericum aegypticum, Matthiola incana subsp. melitensis, Thymbra capitata and Teucrium fruticans. Further downstream, before Wied Għorof joins the main stream of the principal watercourse at Qawra, a small Nerio-Tamaricetea community is found. This hosts the largest known Maltese clump of Vitex agnus-castus. Tamarix africana, which is rare in the area, is also present. At Qawra, the watercourse is more species diverse, and is characterised by various wetland species, including Aster squamatus, Centaurium tenuifolium, Polypogon monspeliensis, Mentha pulegium, Rumex conglomeratus, Spergularia bocconei and the salt-tolerant Crypsis schoenoides; with the latter being confined to this area in the Maltese Islands. The slopes flanking the watercourse are clayey and gently inclined; forming steppic hillsides characterised by various grasses and thistles, including Carlina involucrata, Cynodon dactylon and Hyparrhenia hirta. The higher parts of the wied are essentially agricultural. A deep freshwater pool fed by Wied il-Kbir lies at the foot of the southernmost cliffs at Qawra. In addition to the water which flows down from the seasonal stream; the pool, known as Il-Qattara, also receives water all year round from water from a spring which seeps through the overhanging rock face. As a result of this perennial standing water, the vegetation and fauna of the area is quite atypical from the rest of the area. The deep fissures in the damp cliff face rising around Il-Qattara basin accumulate soil which retains moisture due to water seepage. These ledges support an interesting assemblage of species which are typical of shady, humid habitats; in particular Adiantum capillus-veneris; Samolus valerandi; Eucladium verticillatum; and the endemic Hyoseris frutescens, which is usually found in more xeric habitats. The freshwater pool is dominated by the endemic Zannichellia melitensis and the charophyte Chara globularis; as well as a number of vascular plants which are only partially submerged. This habitat is close to the description for the habitats known as Hard oligo-mesotrophic waters with benthic vegetation of Chara spp.. The banks of the pool are characterised by various wetland species, including Cyperus longus; Scirpoides holoschoenus (= Holoschoenus vulgaris); the otherwise critically endangered Apium graveolens; Rumex conglomeratus; Mentha pulegium; Centaurium tenuiflorum; a single individual of the very rare Salix alba. This specimen had been planted and originates from Maltese stock. In addition there are various grasses and leguminous plants; and a small Nerio-Tamaricetea community, based upon Tamarix africana. The perennial supply of water also houses an array of threatened species, including a number of species confined to this locality like the critically endangered beetles Augyles maritimus (= Heterocerus melitensis) associated with muddy edges of Il-Qattara, and Aulacochthebius exaratus. Other important species include the beetles Ochthebius celatus, Octhebius dilatatus, Potamonectes cerisyi and Siagona europaea; the amphipod Orchestria gammarellus; the freshwater spire-snail Mercuria cf. similis (= Mercuria melitensis); as well as the dwarf pond-snail, Lymnaea truncatula. All of these species are threatened due to the dearth of their habitat and consequently have a very restricted distribution in the Maltese Islands. The amphibian Discoglossus pictus, an Annex IV Habitats Directive and Appendix II Bern Convention listed species) is also known from this area. The availability of freshwater during the summer months also attracts birds; with the pool being a congregation site for species as Sylvia conspicillata; Miliaria calandra; Calandrella brachydactyla, which numbers at around 5-8 pairs during the months of August and early September and may otherwise number up to 100 individuals; as well as Monticola solitarius which breeds in the Dwejra area. This Ħaġret il-Ġeneral Nature Reserve is essentially an isolated pillar of rock rising steeply from the sea, and is characterised by a mixture of endemic and sub-endemic plants which constitute about one third of the native flora of the islet. The vegetation of the area includes a mosaic of rupestral communities, Chritmo-Limonietea communities and Hypericum aegypticum phrygana; similar to that found on the mainland. Important plants include the Habitats Directive Annex II rupestral species Atriplex lanfrancoi (= Cremnophyton lanfrancoi), Helichrysum melitense and Hyoseris frutescens and the very rare Cynomorium coccineum, a parasitic flowering plant. The latter is known as a parasite of Atriplex lanfrancoi (= Cremnophyton lanfrancoi) and Arthrocnemum macrostachyum, and confined to this islet and Dingli Cliffs on the island of Malta. The most important faunal element of the islet is the Fungus Rock wall lizard, Podarcis filfolensis generalensis (an Annex IV Habitats Directive and Appendix II Bern Convention listed species), endemic to the islet. Other endemic species known from the islet include the endemic karstic snails Muticaria macrostoma oscitans and Trochoidea spratti. Excluding the peculiar fauna of Il-Qattara, the Dwejra area is also important for various endemic invertebrates, including: the abovementioned endemic snails Muticaria macrostoma and Trochoidea spratti; the Siculo-Maltese endemic snail Cernuella caruanae, which live mostly in crevices and cavities in rocks and rdum and under stones in the area; the endemic pseudo-scorpion Chthonius maltensis, known from Il-Ponta tad-Dwejra; as wekk as various endemic beetles, including Allophylax picipes melitensis, Heliopathes avarus dwejrensis, Laemostenus picicornis melitensis, Pimelia rugulosa melitana, Stenosis melitana, Stenostoma melitense and Tentyria laevigata leachi (= Tentyria leachi), which are mostly found under stones in maritime 'garrigue' communities. Of these, the endangered Heliopathes avarus dwejrensis, is confined to the Dwejra area, which is its type locality, whilst Stenostoma melitense is strictly monophagous on Arthrocnemum macrostachyum and the endemic Salsola melitensis (=Darniella melitensis). In addition, there are endemic woodlice, including Armadillidium schmalfussi and the very rare Spelaeoniscus vallettai, for which Dwejra is the type locality and which is known as living in soil in humid areas close to the sea; as well as the endemic shrew Crocidura sicula calypso (an Annex IV Habitats Directive and Annex III Bern Convention listed species) which is known from rubble walls in the area. Furthermore, the Dwejra/Qawra area is important for avifauna since it provides a diverse array of habitats for both residents and migrants alike, such as the vertical lower Coralline Limestone sea-cliffs, the system of vegetated inland valley tributaries, the Qattara freshwater pool, and open spaces in general. Climatic conditions have an evident effect on trasboundary movements of avifauna, and the west of Gozo where the Dwejra/Qawra region is situated, is no exception. This is because Dwejra is ideally located to receive migrants, such as heron species, various passerines and to a lesser extent raptors, caught up by sudden strong north-easterly surface winds. Other strong easterly winds can be equally important in bringing about large falls. The breeding birds that occur or were recorded in the Qawra/Dwejra region include the Calonectris borealis (=Calonectris diomedea borealis), which breeds in colonies along sea cliffs and rdum, and Falco peregrinus.

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both


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6.1 Body(ies) responsible for the site management:

Organisation:Environment and Resources Authority

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

Yes Name: L-Inħawi tad-Dwejra u tal-Qawra/Rdumijiet ta Għawdex: Il-Ponta ta' Ħarrux sal-Bajja tax-Xlendi; Il-Ponta ta' San Dimitri sal-Ponta ta' Ħarrux

No, but in preparation



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