Need of an urban tree management plan

 Urgent need of an urban tree management plan

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Following the return to the mismanagement of urban trees, resulting in a waste of resources,  and negative social and ecological impacts, the Tree Group of the FAA (Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar) has called a press conference at Naxxar where three 50 year-old protected Ficus nitida trees have been killed by toxic chemicals.  This method seems to be on the increase in eliminating established urban trees which the Department of Agriculture was responsible for under Legal Notice 12 of 2011, the Trees and Woodlands (Protection) Regulations, 2001, but which the Department of Agriculture shed all such responsibilites following the new Legal Notice 200 of 2011, the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations, 2011.

Such a method of eliminating trees seems to be accepted and used also on Governemnt projects, such as the one at the Mdina Ditch, were an established Cypress Tree was also subjected to such methods  (see photo).

WARA – L-unika siġra taċ-Cipress li baqa' - MEJTA.  L-oħrajn kollha nqalgħu u nqerdu. Ikun interessanti li l-esperti tal-Ministru jgħidulna kif mietet din is-siġra. Ma naħsebx issa li sejjer ikun hemm xi ħadd li tniggżu l-kuxjenza biex tinqala' siġra mejta, meta nqalgħu tant u tant siġar ħajjin minn dan il-post fejn sejjer isir ġnien ta' kwalità u spazju miftuħ għall-familji..

The killed Cypress Tree at Mdina Ditch, the last one of 12 such specimens which were killed and uprooted to make way for a ‘garden’.

QABEL – Ringiela ta' siġar taċ-Cipress li kienu jiffurmaw parti mill-biodiversità

Thew row of Cypress trees beofre they were kiled and uprootred by Government.

The present scenario is that there is no public entity accountable and responsible for the management of urban trees, unless these are listed in the L.N. 200 of 2011.

The aim of the FAA Tree Group was to highlight such a fact and to draw the attention of the  Government for the crying need of a professional management plan, and a Regulator to ensure the monitoring, enforcement and CEPA (Communication, Eduction and Public Awareness) on trees which have such an important social, ecological and economic value.

The  following is the Press Release issued by the FAA Tree Gourp during such a press conference.



 Unfortunately despite constructive criticism, from individuals, NGOs and the media, the butchering of trees goes on and on. The FAA Tree Group would like to draw the new Government’s attention to this waste of resources which is having negative impacts on communities and the environment at large and is only benefiting a handful of individuals.

The FAA Tree Group would like to suggest that to control such vandalism and increase the appreciation of trees, Government considers implementing the following:

a)      The drawing up of a management plan for all urban trees to be drawn up by all interested stake- holders whether voluntary or commercial;

b)      The reinstatement of the protection of urban trees which was revoked by the previous Minister responsible for the sector;

c)       The appointment of a regulator to formulate the policy and see that it is adhered to, and to monitor and check irregularities;

d)      The registration of all qualified landscapers/tree pruners who can then be regarded as the competent operators to implement the  policy;

e)      Ensuring that urban trees are no longer regarded as street furniture, and that their social and ecological importance is taken in consideration when it comes to management.

f)       Maximisation of public funds by setting up local nurseries to supply indigenous trees for local consumption for such landscaping.

g)      The setting up of an ad hoc committee under the responsibility of the regulator to conduct a Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) campaign on trees and their social, ecological and economic benefits.

FAA Tree Group will be willing to form part of this set-up and to contribute to an educational campaign in the national interest for the benefit of biodiversity, in this case trees.

27 March, 2013.

FAA Tree Group.


2013.03.27 - naxxar dead tree

Trees poisoned with toxic chemicals at Naxxar

2013.03.27 - dead tree naxxar

Unfortunately the negative mentality and lack of appreciation of trees in Malta is shwon by such a vandalistic act

11 Responses to Need of an urban tree management plan

  1. Paul Mifsud says:

    It is a very well known fact that E L C have been massacrating trees and ruining nature to make way for the so called open spaces. About time someone made a stop to their atrocities

  2. Charlotte de Trafford says:

    Thank you for bringing tree vandalism to public attention.
    With FAA watchdogs the situation should improve.

  3. Astrid Vella says:

    Excellent article Alfred. The photo of that Cypress tree is particularly damning!

    • Thanks Astrid. The photo of the Cypress tree, besides being damning, is also atrocious, considering that this was killed to make way for a ‘quality garden’ or an ‘open space’ project financed by the Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs (that is public funds), and those from the EU. Ten or eleven other similar Cypress trees of the same age also made way for the present turf. (see photos on this link
      Coincidentally the Cypress tree is one of the species which disappeared from the list of the Tree Protection Regulations of 2001 when these were amended by those of 2011. The political acumen behind such ‘amendments’ now seems to be unfolding fast. Definitely the amendments were not made in the interest of the protection and apprecation of biodiversity, as the Cypress tree in the photo shows the shallow mentality of the perpetrators.
      A professional management plan for afforestation and urban trees is crying out loud to put biodviersity back on a respectful, appreciative basis.

  4. vivien cassar says:

    what is going to happen to those trees in Floriana which were targeted? (around Kristu Re)

  5. Sabrina Borda says:

    In Malta a decent Tree management plan (giving Trees serious consideration) is long overdue.

  6. We need more trees in our streets. This was recommended in the think tank report “Towards a Low Carbon Society – the Nation’s Health, Energy Security and Fossil Fuels” and in the more recent report “Healthy mobility in Sliema, a case study”. Both these reports can be downloaded at

    Some extracts:

    297………. Roads are empty of trees, which might otherwise provide shade from the hot summer sun (and act as a sink for carbon dioxide). 398. ……..conversion of streets into social spaces by means of bollards and irregular roadlayouts, creation of friendly areas with “Pocket parks” – small grassed or paved areas with trees (which provide shade), plants and seating accommodation, installation of cycle lanes or play areas. Removing pavements induces a greater tendency for drivers to yield to pedestrians. 399. …. Home zone system ….no pavements, the road surface or texture is changed, typically with cobblestones or brick, to make the car ride noisy and prompt motorists to drive at a slow speed, trees are planted and benches installed.

    ….. . Most pavements are narrow so that mothers with young children in prams are often obliged to share the roadway with traffic. Provisions for the old or disabled are rudimentary or absent. Streets are empty of trees, which might otherwise have made them more attractive – and provided shade during our hot summers.

    – Every effort must be made to plant trees to make the street more attractive and provide shade from the sun in summer.

    • Agreed. But I am afraid that tthe biodiversity aspect is conspicuous by its abscence.

      • I wouldn’t regard it as a question of biodiversity but as a matter of making our streets more friendly and attractive so that people walk in them more readily. Most urban streets are so dreary that people don’t feel inclined to walk in them – so they get in their car & drive somewhere else to go for a walk. As to biodiversity, well, we could find suitable indigenous trees to plant in our streets. Pine ? Olive ? Citrus ? (as in Seville?)

  7. Ray Pisani says:

    Excellent Article. Shameful that instead of protecting the few trees Councils and ELC have made a determined and damning effort of destroying them which would of course mean less work for ELC and more profits in future. Most shameful of all is the annihilation of the 300 Maltese Orange Trees in Mdina Ditch, the fruit of which is considered amongst the best in the World, and which took 50 years to grow, now dead firewood. The Ditch of the Damned is what Mdina Ditch has become.

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