Wied il-Għasel

August 15, 2017

Soċjetà Filarmonika Nicolò Isouard – Festa Santa Marija Mosta

it-Tlieta, 15 ta’ Awwissu, 2017

Wied il-Għasel

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Wied il-Għasel, li jdur mal-Mosta,  jagħmel parti minn katina ta’ widien oħra.

Il-fomm ta’ dan il-wied huwa Wied Liemu li jirċievi ammont kbir ta’ ilma mill-għoljiet fuq kull naħa tiegħu, jiġifieri dik ta’ Ħad-Dingli u dik tal-Imtaħleb. Billi fl-inħawi ta’ Wied Liemu hemm saff ta’ tafal, dan iżomm ħafna mill-ilma li jserraħ fuqu, u jifforma l-ilma tal-pjan ta’ fuq. Meta jfawwar, joħloq numru ta’ nixxigħat li l-inħawi huma magħrufa għalihom.

Meta tagħmel ħafna xita fl-inħawi, l-ilma jaqbad it-triq lejn artijiet aktar fil-baxx. Minn Wied Liemu jgħaddi mill-Fiddien, jaqbad ma’ Wied il-Qlejgħa, magħruf aktar bħala Chadwick Lakes, jerħila lejn Wied tal-Isperanza, jgħaddi minn Wied il-Għasel fi triqtu lejn is-Salina fejn iferra’  fil-baħar.

Hemm ukoll xi widien oħra iżgħar imma li xorta waħda jgħinu biex iferrgħu l-ilma tagħhom f’din il-medda ta’ widien ewlenin. Wied il-Bużbież; Wied Għomor u Wied Għemieri kollha jgħinu biex iwasslu l-ilma tagħhom sa Wied il-Qlejgħa, li minnu mbagħad jerħila għal Wied il-Għasel.

Din id-damma ta’ widien tlaħħaq madwar 14.4 kilometru. Hija t-tieni l-aktar medda ta’ widien li jilqgħu l-ilma tax-xita fil-gżejjer Maltin.

Jgħasses fuq Wied il-Għasel, fil-parti magħrufa bħala Dawret il-Wied, hemm, jew aħjar hemm, il-fdalijiet ta’ Wied Filep, li nbelgħa minn barriera tal-qawwi. Dan jixbaħ foss għoli u kważi dritt, riżultat ta’ ċaqliq tal-art. Fil-fdalijiet ta’ Wied Filep insibu numru żgħir tas-siġra nazzjonali, l-għargħar, li ilhom magħrufa minn dawn l-inħawi sa minn kmieni fis-seklu 20. Jista’ jgħati l-każ li dawn is-siġar tal-għargħar huma l-fdalijiet ta’ masġar ta’ dawn is-siġar maghrufa minn Wied Filep.

Dan wassal biex b’Avviż tal-Gvern numru 473 tal-24 ta’ Mejju tal-2011, Wied Filep ġie ddikjarat bħala Żona ta’ Siġar Imħarsa (Tree Protected Area) skont kif jipprovdu r-regolamenti tal-ħarsien tas-siġar u l-imsagar tal-2011.

Barra minn hekk, minħabba li Wied Filep huwa sinjur fil-flora indiġena Maltija, bħal ngħidu aħna t-tengħud tas-siġra, u s-salvja tal-Madonna li tinstab tikber fi rqajja fil-gżejjer Maltin, dawn l-inħawi huma meqjusa bħala inħawi ta’ valur għoli fil-biodiversità (Area of High Landsape Value) u ġew dikjarati bħala Riserva Naturali.

Is-salvja tal-Madonna – pjanta indiġena Maltija rari li wieħed jista’ jiltaqa’ magħha wkoll f’Wied il-Għasel.

Jingħad li f’Wied il-Għasel tant kien hemm numru kbir ta’ naħal li kienu jibnu x-xehda tagħhom fix-xquq fil-blat, li dawn kienu jagħmlu tant għasel li f’xi nħawi kien ifur u kien iqattar matul dan il-wied. Dan it-twemmin kien ta l-isem lill-kappella li nbient fl-1760. Huwa minn dan l-għijdut li dan il-Wied ha ismu.

Minbarra dan, fil-Wied il-Għasel insibu numru ta’ pjanti slavaġġ li huma wkoll komuni, bħal ngħidu aħna: iċ-ċfolloq, il-borgħom, il-buttuniera, il-ħaxixa tal-misk, il-ħobbejża tar-raba’, il-lellux, il-moxt, it-te Sqalli, ix-xewk tal-Madonna, iż-żebbuġija, l-għollieq, l-ispraġġ xewwieki u x-xewk abjad.

Pjanti slavaġġ oħra, li minkejja li ma humiex daqshekk komuni, imma huma frekwenti, huma: iċ-ċfolloq tal-ilma, il-ħobbejża tar-raba’, il-ħobbejża tal-warda kbira, il-margerita salvaġġa, il-qarsajja tal-ilma, in-narċis imwaħħar, is-siġret il-ħarir, it-tursin il-bir, l-erika, il-kalaminta, ix-xpakkapietra, u ż-żigland tal-għerq.

Saħansitra nsibu wkoll pjanti slavaġġ skarsi bħat-tursin ir-riħ, is-salvja tal-Madonna u l-kaħwiela, li tkellimna fuqha fil-ħarġa tas-sena l-oħra.

Il-ħobbejża tal-warda kbira – fjura selvaġġa frekwenti li tagħti sehmha biex isebbaħ Wied il-Għasel

Hemm ukoll pjanti rari ħafna bħall-brimba ta’ Sqallija, li nbelgħet mill-barriera, l-felċi tal-ħitan tas-sejjiegħ, il-ħaxixa tal-baħar tal-ħarifa u l-għansar tal-ġonna.

Insibu wkoll it-tulliera ta’ Malta, pjanta endemika Maltija, jiġifieri pjanta li tinstab tikber fil-ġżejjer Maltin biss.

Il-pjanta invażiva, dik tal-ħaxixa Ingliża li ddaħlet mill-Afrika t’Isfel, ukoll terfa’ rasha sewwa f’dan il-wied.

Il-kappella ta’ San Pawl l-eremita f’Wied il-Għasel.

Illum insibu żewġ kappelli matul dan il-wied. Dik tal-Isperanza fejn il-Wied tal-Isperanza jaqbad ma’ Wied il-Għasel. U dik ta’ San Pawl L-Eremita.

Kif wieħed jista’ jara Wied il-Għasel mhux biss huwa sinjur fil-biodiversità, imma anki fil-wirt storiku.

Bil-fjuri slavaġġ u anki dawk ta’ siġar tal-frott li llum huwa mżejjen bihom, dan joffri mergħat kbar fejn in-naħal jirgħu u jiġbru kemm l-għasel tal-fjuri, kif ukoll l-għabra tad-dakkra li huma jużaw biex jibnu x-xeħda u jagħmlu l-għasel. U fil-qedem kien hemm ħafna u ħafna aktar fjuri minn dawn li kienu jżejnu u jagħmlu l-mergħat aktar sinjuri. U b’dawn il-mergħat kollha fil-kenn ta’ Wied il-Għasel, ma setgħax jonqos li dan il-wied kien il-beniena tal-għasel li n-naħal kienu jaħdmu wara li jżuru l-fjuri. Wied il-Għasel, wied sinjur li ma tantx għarafna nieħdu ħsiebu biex ikomplu jsebbaħ u joffrilna ikel naturali u mediċinali.

Dan minbarra  n-numru ta’ fawna oħra bħall-ngħidu aħna friefett, rettili, għasafar u anki mammiferi li jgħammru f’dan il-wied.

Wied il-Għasel iħaddar anke fl-eqqel tas-sajf

Ma tkunx ħaġa tajba li kieku jsiru pjanijiet ta’ immanniġar biex dan il-wied jerġa jingħata l-għarfien tiegħu għal kemm kien sinjur u kemm għin lill-bniedem biex jitrejjaq, jerġa jibda jgħinna bil-kuluri tal-fjuri u tal-ħlejjaq oħra li jgħixu fih, u jerġa jibda jitma lilna bil-għasel li tant kien jgħati qabel. Kollox jiddependi minna.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 Speċi li jissemmew

Borgħom – Yellow Germander – Teucrium flavum
Brimba ta’ Sqallija – Beaked Spider Orchid – Ophrys oxyrrhynchos
Buttuniera – Sweet Alyssum – Lobularia maritima
Ċfolloq – Autumn Buttercup – Ranunculus bullatus
Erika – Mediterranean Heath – Erica muliflora
Felċi tal-ħitan tas-sejjieħ – Rusty-back Fern – Asplenium ceterach
Għansar tal-ġonna – Portugese Squill – Scilla peruviana
Għollieq – Bramble – Rubus ulmifolius
Ħaxixa Ingliża – Bermuda Buttercup – Oxalis pes-caprae 
Ħaxixa tal-baħar tal-ħarifa – Lesser Arrowgrass – Triglochin bulbosa subsp. laxiflora
Ħaxixa tal-misk – Musk Stork’s Bill – Erodium moschatum
Ħobbejża tal-warda kbira – Rose Mallow – Lavatera trimestris
Ħobbejża tar-raba – Common Mallow – Malva sylvestris
Kaħwiela – Crown Anemone – Anemone coronaria
Kalaminta – Lesser Calaminth – Calamintha nepeta
Lellux – Crown Daisy – Glebionis coronaria
Ċfolloq Sqalli – Scilly Buttercup – Ranunculus muricatus
Margerita salvaġġa – Southern Daisy – Bellis sylvestris
Moxt – Mallow-Leaved Stork’s Bill – Erodium malacoides
Narċis imwaħħar – Late Narcissus – Narcissus serotinus
Putorja – Stinking Madder – Putoria calabrica
Qarsajja tal-ilma – Clustered Dock – Rumex conglomeratus
Salvja tal-Madonna – Great Sage – Phlomis fruticosa
Siġra tal-għargħar – Sandarac gum tree – Tetraclinis articulata
Siġret il-Ħarir – African Wolfbane – Periploca angustifolia
Spraġġ xewwieki – Mediterranean Asparagus – Asparagus aphyllus
Te Sqalli – White Hedge-Nettle – Prasium majus
Tulliera ta’ Malta – Maltese Fleabane – Chiliadenus bocconei
Tursin il-Bir – Maidenhair Fern – Adiantum capillus-veneris
Tursin ir-riħ – Annual Maidenhair – Anogramma leptophylla
Xewk abjad – Mediterranean Thistle – Galactites tomentosa
Xewk tal-Madonna – Milk Thistle – Silybum marianum                   
Xpakkapietra – Maltese savory – Micromeria microphylla 
Żebbuġija – Olive-leaved Germander – Teucrium fruticans
Żigland tal-għerq – Tuberous Hawkbit – Leonodon tuberosus

ara wkoll:

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 8 – Il-Kaħwiel


Il-bebbux żgħir imlembet

August 13, 2017

Il-bebbux żgħir imlembet

Alfred E Baldacchino

is-Sibt, 12 ta’ Awwissu 2017

 

Il-bebbuxu li nistgħu nsejħulu l-bebbux żgħir imlembet minħabba l-għamla tiegħu, huwa speċi ta’ mollusk fil-klassi Gastropoda, kelma Griega li tfisser stonku u sieq. Il-Gastropoda tiġbor fiha l-bebbux u l-bugħeriewen ta’ kull daqs u ta’ kull għamla: minn mikroskopiċi sa mdaqqsin. F’din il-klassi nsibu eluf ta’ speċi: kemm bebbux u bugħeriewen tal-art u tal-ilma. Fost dawk tal-ilma nsibu l-imħar.

Madwar 24,000 speci ta’ Gastropoda huma magħrufa li jgħixu fuq l-art.

Waħda mill-familji f’din il-klassi hija dik tal-Cochlicellidae: familja li tigbor fiha bebbux żgħir tal-art. Dawn il-bebbux għandhom qoxra tawwalija u ġejja għall-ponta; tixbaħ lembut dejjaq ġej għall-ponta rqiqa.

Mijiet ta’ bebbux żgħir imlembet reqdin għax-xhur sħan tas-sajf.

Il-qoxra imlembta tal-bebbuxu, biż-żokra fil-parti l-wiesgħa tagħha.

Il-qoxra tal-bebbux żgħir imlembet li jkun għadu żgħir ikollha din il-ponta tniggeż.  Il-qoxra tkun minn 8 sa 13.7 mm tul b’diametru ta’ minn 4 sa 5 mm. Din tkun iddur imkebba għal minn 8 sa 11-il darba, ta’ lewn isfar bajdani, ta’ spiss b’sinjali, tikek jew dbabar kannella kemmxejn ileqqu, madwarha. L-aħħar dawra fil-qoxra tkun aktar wiesgħa mill-oħrajn u tkun xi minn daqqiet kważi nofs it-tul tal-qoxra kollha. Taħt dan it-tarf il-wiesa’ jkollha forma ta’ żokra ovali li kważi hija mgħottija b’xoffa. Minn din iż-żokra joħrog il-bebbuxu li jkun ġewwa mħares minna.

Fil-gżejjer Maltin, il-bebbuxu li jgħix ġol-qoxra huwa ta’ lewn ħamrani ċar. Fuq dahru l-bebbuxu għandu sinjal iswed matulu, bi dbajja kannella fl-iswed u numru ta’ tikek żgħar suwed.

Il-bebbuxu żgħir tal-art imlembet barra mill-qoxra tiegħu.

Dan il-bebbux żgħir tal-art imlembet huwa indiġenu għan-nofsinhar u l-punent tal-Mediterran. Imma ġie mdaħħal f’numru ta’ pajjiżi, bħal ngħidu aħna fil-lvant tal-Mediterran, bħall-Greċja, it-Turkija, l-Iżrael, u l-Eġittu. Iddaħħal ukoll fil-Gżejjer Brittaniċi u l-Irlanda. Saħansitra anki fl-Awstralja, fejn kif jiġri bi speċi imdaħħlin f’ambjent fejn ma jkunux jinstabu b’mod naturali, sar invażiv, jiġifieri beda joktor fis-selvaġġ b’impatti negattivi fuq l-ambjent naturali u l-fawna u l-flora tal-post.

Il-bebbux żgħir tal-art imlembet jgħix fuq ħamrija kalkarja ramlija, u jħobb inħawi niexfa qrib il-kosta miftuħa u għax-xemx, bħal għaram ramel, għalkemm jinstab f’numri akbar taħt arbuxelli u sġajjar u f’mergħat li ma jżommux ilma. Minħabba s-sħana tas-sajf huwa jorqod matul dawn ix-xhur billi jitla’ ma’ puntali, zkuk niexfa, friegħi tas-siġar u oġġetti oħrajn bil-ponta.

Fost il-fawna u l-flora li jqattgħu ix-xhur sħan tas-sajf reqdin, il-bebbux żgħir tal-art imlembet qatt ma jista’ jeħlisa min-nirien ta’ madwaru.

Hemm minn jaħseb li dan il-bebbux jagħmel xi ħsara lill-agrikultura. Dan għaliex meta huwa jkun rieqed u jinqala’ iħalli warajh bħal ġerha. Iżda din ma tagħmel l-ebda ħsara lill-pjanta li jkun rieqed fuqha.

Il-bebbux żgħir imlembet huwa komuni fil-gżejjer Maltin. Iżda dan ma jfissirx li ma għandniex nieħdu ħsiebu. Dan jiddependi mill-ambjent li jgħix fih. U nafu kif l-ambjent sejjer lura u qed jinqereda kuljum. Bħal dawn il-ġranet qed ikollna ħafna ħruq ta’ ambjenti naturali, kemm minħabba s-sħana naturali, kif ukoll minħabba nirien li jitqabbu u jaħarbu bla ħsieb, kif ukoll sfortunatament minn dawk li jitqabbu bil-ħsieb, li kollha kemm huma jqabbdu minn kull fejn jgħaddu jiġru u jsibu ħaxix niexef.

Dan l-aħħar xahar kellna ħafna minn dawn. Rajna nirien jaħkmu Binġemma, il-Mosta fil-parti tal-Wied tal-Isperanza, għelieqi f’Ħaż-Żebbug, u fil-ġimgħat li ġejjien bil-ħafna ħruq tan-nar marbut mal-festi, wieħed ma jeħodhiex bi kbira li jkun hemm aktar nirien.

Meta jkollna dawn in-nirien mhux la wieħed jgħid li l-ħsara mhux kbira daqs kemm wieħed stenna minħabba dak li jara, għaliex il-ħlejjaq ta’ flora u ta’ fawna li jgħixu qalb il-ħaxix niexef jew fil-ġnub tiegħu, jew inkella li jkunu reqdin għall-ġranet sħan tas-sajf, ma jkunx possibbli għalihom li jaħarbu jew li jeħilsu minn dawn in-nirien. Il-lembut żgħir tal-art huwa wieħed minn dawn l-annimali li ma jeħilsuhiex u dawk kollha li jkunu qed jistennew ix-xhur tax-xita biex jerġgħu jqumu u jkomplu joktru, kollha jinqerdu f’ħakka t’għajn. U magħhom jinqerdu wkoll fawna u flora oħra.

Għalhekk wieħed għandu jagħmel minn kollox biex dawn il-ħlejjaq li jaqsmu din l-art magħna ma jiġux meqruda minn pajjiżna aktar u aktar b’nuqqas ta’ ħsieb.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

Ismijet xjentifkċi

Il-bebbux żgħir imlembet  – Cochlicella acuta – Pointed Snail

 


Lija oak cemetery

July 29, 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lija Oak Cemetery

Alfred E. Baldacchino

The eight majestic, age-old indigenous Maltese oak trees at Lija are dead and buried. Gone at a great social, ecological, financial and political expense, which will get heavier with age. All the new-borns within the next decade will not be able to see any saplings planted today in their majesty as that commanded by the destroyed Lija oak trees.

One can attribute such a loss to lack of serious management of biodiversity, as well as lack of will towards the control of biodiversity loss and no extra efforts made to get them incorporated into the scheme.

No amount of tears will get the age-old oak trees in Lija back. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Unfortunately no amount of tears will get these age-old oak trees back. The best one can do in the circumstances is to pick up the saw dust and plan ahead. A plan of action is urgently needed, not only to ensure that such senseless destruction does not happen again, but also to ensure better professional management of Maltese biodiversity, to meet our national and international obligations in the conservation of indigenous species.

Such an action plan should not be a cosmetic one. Promising 20 saplings to make up for the age-old trees is tantamount to taking a €100 note from a child’s hand, and giving him twenty 50 cent coins, while trying to convince the child that he is now better off because previously he had one piece and now he has 20.

I am sure that the Maltese people are made up of much sterner stuff.

The present trees and woodland protection regulations are worse than the ones they replaced

Such an action plan has to be three pronged: legal, educational and hands on the ground.

The present trees and woodland protection regulations are worse than the ones they replaced. One such loophole even enables age-old indigenous trees to be chopped down with official blessings.

I just cannot understand what is keeping the Ministry for the Environment from publishing the much politically-promised regulations which would save so many indigenous trees and contribute to the local ecosystem, in line with the ministry’s aims for the protection of the environment.

The present trees and woodland protection regulations are worse than the ones they replaced

Is there a Cabinet decision against their publication? Is there any infighting? Are there some kind of fears? What is obvious is that their postponement is not helping in any way the local natural environment, especially trees.

The need for an educational campaign to create more public awareness of the appreciation and understanding of trees is badly needed too. The public cannot be blamed for thinking that there is an official hatred of trees, including indigenous ones, such as carob trees, Aleppo pines and holm oaks, a hatred which seems to have also infiltrated and is controlling official environment decisions, and the political mentality.

Because of this, official decisions are leading to more and more destruction of biodiversity. The benefits of trees are not only not understood, but unfortunately are ridiculed, and such a negative mentality cannot be in any way beneficial to society or to biodiversity, besides contributing to negative financial impacts.

One can neither be blamed for thinking that the Ministry for the Environment and the Environment and Resources Authority need to be seen to be more on the side of those who appreciate and protect trees and biodiversity in the national interest.

The wilful destruction of the Lija oak trees, with official blessing, is a case in point. Other similar instances include the destruction of the 60 mature olive trees at the University campus, and the mismanagement of the Natura 2000 site Buskett.

Finally the ever-increasing demand for indigenous Maltese trees, propagated from local Maltese stock, cannot be met because of the greater short-term financial gain from imported trees, despite the fact that their externalities, that is the hidden costs, are directly or indirectly borne by the local biodiversity and society in the long run.

The red-palm weevil, the geranium bronze butterfly, and the gene pollution of the indigenous sandarac-gum trees by imported specimens are some cases in point.

Such efforts in propagating indigenous Maltese trees from local stock is being left to voluntary, hardworking individuals, with little help, directly or indirectly, from the Ministry of the Environment.

No action plan can be achieved if there is no political will: a strong will based on ecological concepts arising from international obligations regarding biodiversity conservation, such as those of the Bern Convention and the EU policy driven by the biodiversity strategy setting ambitious aims for 2020 (halting the loss of biodiversity).

One can say that presently, with such incredibly uncontrolled destruction of indigenous trees, it is very difficult not to say that such a will is nowhere within sight, despite political commitments and promises.

The present rumours of the passing of landscaping responsibilities to the Ministry of the Environment can be a very positive step, because such ‘landscaping’ will be having a professional regulator from the biodiversity point of view, something which to date it does not have, or on which ERA found it too difficult to intervene.

But considering the present shallow interest and lack of will in the protection of biodiversity, these added responsibilities to the Ministry for the Environment can send shivers down one’s spine.

Till the time of writing, this is the fate of the majority of Maltese indigenous trees.

In the meantime, nature lovers can only keep wishing and hoping and praying, that the man at the helm will see the light of day and join, encourage and help them in their efforts to achieve such a noble, national aim in the protection of the environment in a tangible way.

Wouldn’t dare to say in a concrete way!

Alfred Baldacchino is a former assistant director of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment directorate.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

See also:

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/lija-tree-felling-a-result-of-jose-herreras-failure-environmentalist-says/

 

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/lija-tree-felling-a-result-of-jose-herreras-failure-environmentalist-says-2/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/eu-funds-endanger-buskett-n2k-site/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/there-is-no-respite-for-trees/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/butchered-olive-trees/

 

 


Lija tree felling a result of Jose Herrera’s failure, environmentalist says – (2)

July 17, 2017

Alfred E Baldacchino

Monday 17th July, 2017

Following the publication of my comments in the press and on my blog on the destruction of indigenous old Holm oaks at Lija, the Hon. Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Jose Herrera, felt the need of a right of reply to correct some comments which he said are  “baseless and malicious”, at least directed to the heading .

The Ministers reply at least had one positive comment saying that he is: “not insensitive to the public outcry in this regard.”

I feel, as many others also do, that the destruction of such old trees is an insult to any biodiversity protection authorities, and when there is no effort or feeling to control such biodiversity loss, on the grounds that these were not protected, makes the insult more hurting.

The following is the reply by the Hon Minster for the Environment the Hon. Jose Herrera, which was published in the newspaper MaltaToday, beneath yesterday’s article.

And my reply sent to the newspaper follows.

Right of reply:

I take strong objection to this heading, where it will be shown that allegations made against me and my Ministry are totally baseless and malicious. In fact, one should take note of my persistent effort in favour of tree planting and aforestation, a process which I am determined to accelerate.​

The site in question is within scheme, and is not an Urban Conservation Area (UCA) nor a protected area. Thereby, given that the species of the trees (Quercus ilex) are listed in Schedule II, these specimens are not protected through the Trees and Woodlands (Protection) Regulations, 2011 (Legal Notice 200 of 2011, S.L. 549.64) and no permit from ERA is required for their removal from this site. 

Nonetheless, as a good practice, as part of ERA’s no objection issued, Transport Malta (TM) were made to compensate for the removal through donation of a number of trees to the local council.

However, I must state that I am not insensitive to the public outcry in this regard. Therefore, I will also explore the possibility of landscaping these new roads with the planting of new trees.

My reply:

What a sorry, puerile, statement by the Hon. Minster for the Environment Jose Herrera. What we, and especially me, were expecting was to hear about the efforts made by the Minister to save these historical old, indigenous Maltese trees, when there were more than one solution. None.

How can one accept the fact that a close to a hundred-year old indigenous tree, which was protected before the tree protection regulations were revoked, and which was suggested for total protection, was approved for destruction with no efforts to save it at all.

Anybody who has the protection of biodiversity at heart, in the national interest,  would be heart broken to see such destruction of indigenous old trees. The more so, one would also expect, the Minister responsible for the environment with the responsibility to see and stop biodiversity loss. But… it seems, not in Malta.

In my opinion this is complete failure. And I repeat it. It is a complete failure by the environment authorities that be. The more so when the Hon, Minister speaks about replacing the old Holm Oaks by a score of sapling, unless he would have to rely on imported stuff.

And we were also expecting that the Hon. Minister would have immediately set the ball rolling for the publication of the much promised and awaited tree protection regulations which would save so many indigenous trees. But no word about this either. There is no mention to his “determination and acceleration” efforts towards the publishing of these regulations.

May I ask what is keeping the Hon Minister from publishing these regulations, despite the fact that these were on his his desk from day one he took over from his predecessor, and despite all his public statements that he will soon be publishing them? Are his hands tied? Does he have a real will to publish them? Or is he under pressure from any individual or entity for specific commercial reasons?

That is what we expected to hear. We all know how much he is involved in paper talk, with no resulting positive environmental protection actions. His statement confirms this.

The Hon Minister’s statement really confirms and gives more strength to my comments. Everybody knows about the loop holes the present tree protection regulations have, drafted to the music of his predecessor from the other side of the political fence.

It is positive to read that the Hon Minister for the Environment is “not insensitive to the public outcry in this regard.” When the Hon Minister decides, and if he want to discuss the matter further, I am ready and willing to discuss the real protection, education, and technical regulations to reach such aims in the national and biodiversity interest.

It is up to the Hon Minister to decide. We have had enough of paper talk seeing indigenous trees falling down to the chainsaw, and replaced by imported invasive species.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com 

see also:

http://wp.me/pL6Mk-1a4   Lija tree felling a result of Jose Herrera’s failure, environmentalist says – (1)

 

 


Lija tree felling a result of Jose Herrera’s failure, environmentalist says

July 16, 2017

16 July 2017

Lija tree felling a result of Jose Herrera’s failure,    environmentalist says

Paul Cocks 

Environmentalist Alfred Baldacchino bemoans the felling of a number of mature holm oak trees in Lija and says that environment minister Jose Herrera had failed to deliver on his promise to reinstate in law the protection of indigenous trees.

The holm oak trees were cut off by chainsaw 30cm from the ground.

The environment minister was to be held personally responsible for the felling of a number of old indigenous holm oak trees in Lija, environmentalist Alfred Baldacchino has claimed.

In comments to MaltaToday, Baldacchino said that it was beyond belief that the trees – some of them 100 years old – were summarily cut down when there were other alternatives that would have resulted in the trees being saved.

“This all comes to the fact that minister Jose’ Herrera has failed to deliver on his promise to reinstate into law the protection of a number of indigenous trees,” he said.

“When he took over the ministry from Leo Brincat in April last year, Herrera told Parliament’s Planning and Environment Committee that the protection of trees would be reintroduced into law shortly thereafter.”

Baldacchino said that has not happened yet, leading him to blame Herrera for the felling of the holm oak trees in Lija.

The trees were cut down to make way for an additional south-bound carriageway, aimed at easing the traffic flow – and traffic jams – in the area leading to the Lija roundabout and on to the Birkirkara bypass and Naxxar Road.

But Baldacchino insisted that the transport ministry could have developed an inner service lane into a full carriageway without damaging or cutting down the trees.

“There was already the inner service lane that would have been enough as an extra lane, there was no need to remove the trees as well,” he said.

The trees were removed to expand the south-bound carriageway in Lija

Baldacchino said that when he learnt the trees were being cut down he went immediately on site where he was brusquely challenged by the workers when he attempted to take some photos of what they were doing.

“They were felling those trees with a chainsaw in what appeared to be an orgasmic expression of glee and euphoria,” he said. “They cut the trees about 30cm off the ground, including one that was over two storeys high and must have been over 100 years old.”

Baldacchino said that the lack of foresight by the environment minister, coupled with the failure of the Environment Resources Authority to take a stand on the matter, were appalling.

The ERA, he claimed, had as yet to take a stand to protect Malta’s bio-diversity.

“It is not enough to justify what happened by saying that the trees are not protected,” he said. “They are not protected because Minister Herrera has failed to put into law the recommendations of the ad-hoc committee that was constituted to consider the situation and which recommended that the protection of trees be reinstituted.”

Baldacchino said he was not sure if the transport ministry had also considered the heavy waters that flowed through the area after every heavy bout of rain.

He said that the trees – and the 1.5m-wide strip they were on – served to slow down the water that inadvertently accumulates in the area from Iklin, Mosta and Lija during heavy rainfall.

“What will happen now that the strip has been removed and the area cleared?” Baldacchino said. “Has anyone thought of that?”

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 


Siġar indiġeni Maltin -laqgħa

June 2, 2017

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Wara l-interess qawwi li jidher li hawn dwar is-siġar indiġeni Maltin, u l-għatx għall-aktar tagħrif dwarhom u dwar kif dawn jistgħu jitnisslu, ħsibt li ntella’ laqgħa bir-ritratti, fejn dawk li jixtiequ jkunu jafu aktar jistgħu jilħqu dan il-għan.

Kif jidher fil-poster mehmuż, din il-laqgħa sejra ssir nhar il-Ħamis 22 ta’ Ġunju 2017, fis-6.30 ta’ filgħaxija, fis-Sala Antoine de Paule fil-Palazz ta’ Sant’ Anton. Matula naraw xi siġar indiġeni Maltin, u wara waqfa għall-kafe naraw ftit kif nistgħu innisslu wħud minn dawn is-siġar.

Din hija miftuha għal kulħadd, u d-dħul huwa b’xejn.

Niltaqgħu biex insiru nafu aktar dwar is-siġar indiġeni Maltin biex inkunu nistgħu nqajjmu aktar kuxjenza pubblika b’saħħitha ħalli s-siġar indiġeni Maltin jistgħu jerġgħu iħaddru lill-pajjiżna.

Inkun grat jekk minn jixtieq jiġi jibgħatli tagħrif meħtieġ kif jidher fil-poster.

Nixtieq nirringrazzja llil E.T. il-President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca tal-għajnuna kollha.

Niltaqgħu.

 


EU funds endanger Buskett N2K site

May 13, 2017

Saturday, 13th May, 2017

Endangering Buskett 
Alfred E. Baldacchino

Buskett is a Tree Protection Area, with some trees protected for their antiquity, a scheduled woodland, an Area of Ecological Importance, a Site of Scientific Importance, a Site of European Importance, a Special Area of Conservation, a Bird Protection Area, and above all an EU Natura 2000 site.

The remains of an Ash Tree, after being handled by a Landscaper, in the Natura 2000 Buskett.

Yet, to date Buskett has never been professionally managed, especially on the lines of EU obligations. Never. There is absolutely no will, no vision, and no professional commitment. To the extent that a past environment minister was made to believe that Buskett is a garden. There were plans to transform this important ecological habitat into a ‘quality garden’ on the lines eventually implemented at the Mdina Ditch.

One would have thought that this was just a political flash in the pan by a gullible politician who was taken in by those with commercial interests. But to this day, professional environmental responsibilities still have not reached the level of Cabinet’s political acumen.

The only type of management approved by the Authority for the Protection of the Environment is the chopping down of protected trees, such as this one in Buskett – A Natura 2000 site.

As an EU member, Malta had to have management plans implemented for all Natura 2000 sites by six years after accession. This deadline was not met.

Following public consultations, later approved by the government, and boasted about by the incumbent Minister for the Environment, management plans are not yet implemented, and it seems they will never be.

A recent visit to Buskett revealed the complete political failure, lack of professionalism and irresponsibility with regards to the management of this important EU Natura 2000 site.

Clearance of important natural habitat in a Natura 2000 site to restore of a rubble wall.

An extensive area of maquis was recklessly bulldozed and obliterated to enable the restoration of a rubble wall. While the restoration of rubble walls is necessary, and those in hand are being professionally built, this can never justify the massacre of flora and fauna: habitat and species of European importance.

The rich maquis habitat as it was before it was bulldozed with the blessing of the Ministry for the Environment.

I wandered around Buskett and I could see piles of earth and stones dumped on sensitive habitats: habitats important for rare and endangered species, all listed in the data sheets sent to the EU to justify the importance of such a Special Area of Conservation of European Interest.

A butchered Ash Tree where, a couple of weeks before, I was photographing its new seeds.

Piles of stones and earth dumped on sensitive habitat in this EU Natura 2000 site.

It is heartbreaking to see two protected and rare hawthorn trees that were chopped from ground level to make way for machinery, earth and stone dumping. A rare protected ash tree was heavily butchered.

Unfortunately European Union funds are being mismanaged, endangering an important sensitive habitat which according to EU legislation, the Minister for the Environment is obliged to protect on behalf of Malta and the EU.

According to the EU Habitats Directive (article 6.3), an appropriate assessment has to be drawn up for any plan or project not directly connected with, or necessary to the management of a Natura 2000 site, but which is likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or in combination with other plans or projects. Such an appropriate assessment is needed to highlight the implications for the site in view of its conservation objective.

The national competent authority for the EU Habitats Directive (the Environment and Resource Authority – ERA) shall eventually endorse the plan or project only after having ascertained that the conclusions of such assessment regarding the implications for the SAC will not adversely affect the integrity of the SAC concerned. ERA is also obliged, if appropriate, to obtain the opinion of the general public.

Two mature protected hawthorn trees in this Natura 2000 site, 2.5 metres high, were raised to the ground seemingly by the approval of the Ministry for the Environment and ERA 

Can the minister publish the appropriate assessment made (naturally if it has been done), which enabled the ERA board to approve such works in this important Natura 2000 site?

If not available, then ERA approved such works blindfolded, which is very irresponsible, or else the ministry is in complete darkness of its responsibility, and its personnel is on a wild unmonitored spree to obliterate a delicate natural habitat just to restore a rubble wall. Ironically, posters at Buskett advertise these works as an EU-funded Life Saving Project.

It seems that following the acquiring of EU funds, the most important thing is to nail a poster acknowledging EU. How these funds are spent, and whether they are in line with the obligations of the EU Environment Acquis, is not important, not even to the Ministry.

Considering the fact that the minister’s Environment and Resource Authority board is made up of the cream of the crop of Maltese academics, such officially approved ecological damage with EU funds is worse than one can image, both from a professional, an administrative and a political point of view.

60 mature olive trees were chopped down by the approval and financing of the University of Malta, following populist demands. So if it can be done on the University campus, why not on public land?

It reminds me of the massacre of 60 established olive trees on the university campus, where no one batted an eye. We now have to suffer this ecological destruction in a Special Area of Conservation of national and European importance. Seems that academic qualifications today at best are of secondary importance when one sits on a political board.

Have we reached a stage where the destruction of the environment and the ecosystem has achieved virtual academic qualifications, approved not only by politicians but also by the top academic institution of this unfortunate country that seems to sit and tacitly approve?

This is a glaring declaration of total failure of the ministry’s obligations with regards to the protection of the environment. It seems that the latest environment ministers, one from either side of the local political hegemony, are competing among themselves as to who is the most committed to the destruction of biodiversity.

It would do no harm to remind, once again, the environmental promise contained in the 2013 electoral manifesto:

“The Environment and Resources Authority… will focus more specifically on the conservation, protection and amelioration of the environment and resources while undertaking also the responsibility of the important role of an environmental regulator, which presently our country does not have.”

A visit to Buskett where this EU Natura 2000 site is being endangered by EU funds, shows not only how an environmental regulator did never exist in the past, but also how the present one is working diametrically opposite to what has been promised and contrary to national and international obligations. Not only is it not functioning, but it is officially involved in such ecological damage.

Have we reached a stage where the destruction of the environment and the ecosystem has achieved virtual academic qualifications?

The minister has gone on record as saying that he has a “sound environmental policy”. Buskett Natura 2000 site, shows the lack of a will to protect biodiversity, as promised, all the result of such a “sound environmental policy”.

 

The result of the ‘sound environmental policy’ with which some are very proud.  Seeing all the above official ecological damage, this is the best diplomacy I could manage. And I am sure there are many others who feel the way I do.

Alfred Baldacchino is a former assistant director of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment directorate.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

see also:

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/another-buskett-onslaught/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/buskett-%e2%80%93-a-special-area-of-conservation-in-the-eu/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2010/01/26/il-buskett/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/trees-butchered-at-university/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/a-cash-cow-in-the-ditch/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-garden-at-mdina-ditch-officially-inaugurated/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/qerda-tal-biodiversita-fil-foss-tal-imdina-biex-isir-gnien-ta-kwalita/