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 ta' Ta' Ċenċ

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:2008-09
Date site confirmed as SCI:2009-12
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] (optional):

No information provided

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      6.88  0.00 
1510  info      4.16  0.00 
3170  info      0.11  0.00 
5330  info      14.18  0.00 
5410  info      8.17  0.00 
5430  info      6.67  0.00 
6220  info      47.57  0.00 
8210  info      6.9  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.
P4079Cremnophyton lanfrancoi    50  100 
P4092Elatine gussonei     
P4084Hyoseris frutescens     
P4114Linaria pseudolaxiflora     
P4085Palaeocyanus crassifolius     
  • 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)

No information provided


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

The Ta' Ċenċ area, located in the southwest of Gozo, comprises a relatively undeveloped stretch of open land characterised by a number of geomorphological units supporting a conglomeration of natural habitats. In this respect, the Ta' Ċenċ area is highly influenced by one of the largest fault complex systems of Gozo, where the area is bound by a steep escarpment along its northern periphery and a belt of sheer coastal cliffs to the south. These vertical lower coralline limestone cliffs border the southern half of the site, extending from Ta' Ċenċ to Il-Bajja ta' Mġarr ix-Xini. The vertical sides support rupestral communities, rich in endemic species. The northern half of the site is characterised by an extensive karstic Globigerina limestone terrain plateau that extends from the western end of Ix-Xagħra l-Kbira in a southeastward direction towards Tal-Kalkara, Il-Qortin iż-Żghir and Ta' Nanas, occupying a central portion of the plateau, and along the southern direction towards Tad-Debda, Ix-Xagħra and Il-Qortin il-Kbir, thus occupying an expanse of land overlooking the cliffs on the western and southwestern sectors. These karst areas are typified by a mosaic of grasslands, ermes, phrygana and pre-desert scrub communities. Formerly cultivated, terraced fields occupy a significant portion of land to the east (as at Is-Sisien, Tal-Kalkara and Tas-Smina) and southeast (at Ta' Riglis, Lizgandlu and Ta' L-Iskandlu). A number of trees (Ficus carica and Ceratonia silqua) and large shrubs also occur on the peripheries in some of the former fields. The steep-sided valley at Wied Sabbara drains a fair extent of the land cover towards the eastern side. Wied Sabbar shows a mosaic of natural communities; dominated by Euphorbia dendroides or Hypericum aegypticum on the steep sides, watercourse vegetation along the valley bed, and archaeophytic assemblages. The Ras in-Newwiela promontary forms a flat Globigerina Limestone cliff-top platform that is colonised by maritime steppe communities, dominated by Lygeum and Stipa.

4.2 Quality and importance

Within this site, the open karstic plateau is characterised by relatively shallow soils colonised by various grassland, phrygana and pre-desert scrub assemblages. This area in general supports a wide range of flora and fauna that include various reptiles; small mammals, including Atelerix algirus; and various invertebrate groups, including the endemic Armadillidium schmalfussi, Stenosis melitana, Tentyria laevigata leachi and Pimelia rugulosa spp. melitana. The areas from Fuq tal-Gruwa/Ix-Xagħra l-Kbira to Ta' Nanas consist mostly of phrygana and steppic assemblages, which also include flora and fauna of interest, including the endemic molluscs Muticaria macrostoma oscitans, and Trochoidea spratti. The Ta' Nanas area also houses a relatively large but localised population of the sub-endemic Scilla sicula, as well as fairly extensive patches dominated by Brachypodium retusum. The phrygana communities of Ta' Ċenċ extend throughout the northern escarpment that defines the northern boundary of the area, from Fuq tal-Gruwa to Il-Ħamra, extending partly to Il-Qortin iż-Żghir. This habitat type is characterised by Anthyllis hermanniae and labiate shrubs, particularly Thymbra capitata. Anthyllis hermanniae also occurs in other areas, as at Ix-Xagħra l-Kbira, but does not characterise the habitat type, which is mostly typified by various annuals and other plants typical of the Mediterranean xeric grasslands, but also including andropogonid grasses, as Hyparrhenia hirta. These xeric grassland habitats can be found nearly throughout the entire Ta' Ċenċ area, although the status of its distribution and conservation varies. The areas near Il-Qortin iż-Żghir and Ta' Nanas host grasslands in a good conservation status, whereas the grasslands in other areas, such as at Ix-Xagħra and Il-Qortin il-Kbir, are more disturbed. Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub communities are particularly well-developed in the area, these being often characterised by dense populations of Euphorbia dendroides. The community within this site represents one of the best examples throughout the Maltese Islands and is deemed to be at a highly favourable conservation status, conferring a high ecological value and uniqueness to this habitat type in the area. This habitat type occurs on the extensive karstic plateau at Il-Qortin il-Kbir, at the headwaters of Wied Sabbara and at Il-Blat ta' Psaila. On the western valley-sides of Wied Sabbara, this habitat type occurs in conjunction with Hypericum aegypticum; such assemblage is usually referred to as phrygana, but requires further studies as to its distinction from pre-desert scrub and other similar habitat types. The temporary rainwater rock pools occur scattered all over the area, depending on karstic depressions and rainfall. Examples of such communities are found in the areas of Ta' l-Għadira, Il-Qortin il-Kbir and Il-Qortin iż-Żghir, and include an array of threatened vascular flora, including chandelier algae/stoneworts (Charophyta species), Elatine gussonei (Annex II Habitats Directive), Damasonium bourgaei, Ranunculus saniculaefolius, and Zannichellia melitensis, fairy shrimps (Branchipus sp./spp.) as well as the amphibian Discoglossus pictus (Annex IV Habitats Directive). Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp. and calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation, are both associated with coastal limestone cliffs, and occur as a mosaic of natural habitats throughout the belt of coastal cliffs extending from Ta' Ċenċ to Il-Bajja ta' Mġarr ix-Xini. The cliffs at Ta' Ċenċ support a very important rupestral maritime community with a variety of species that are otherwise rare across the Maltese Islands. Such species include Atriplex lanfrancoi, Cheirolophus crassifolius, Matthiola incana ssp. melitensis and Hyoseris frutescens, all threatened Maltese endemic cliff species. The assemblage is also based on other endemics and species with a restricted distribution in the Mediterranean, including Limonium melitense, Salsola melitensis, Hypericum aegypticum, Crucianella rupestris, Daucus rupestris and Senecio leucanthemifolius. In addition, Coronilla valentina s.l. and Echium sabulicola, two species rare on the national scale, also grow at Ta' Ċenċ and Ras in-Newwiela respectively. In this respect, it should be noted that the cliff of Ta' Ċenċ support the best known population of the Annex II (Habitats Directive) species Cheirolophus crassifolius in the island of Gozo (this species is rare on the island of Gozo). Footpaths in the area in general house an interesting assemblage of plant species, particularly within the area of Wied Sabbara, where Evax pygmaea, Romulea spp., Moraea sisyrinchium, Plantago coronopus s.l., Euphorbia exigua s.l. and Filago cossyrensis occur.

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

4.4 Ownership (optional)

No information provided

4.5 Documentation (optional)

No information provided


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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: Rdumijiet u L-Inħawi ta’ Ta’ Ċenċ

No, but in preparation

6.3 Conservation measures (optional)

No information provided



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