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

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?”


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

  1. Carmen Azzopardi says:

    What a pity that such old and beautiful trees which have given the area shade and beauty as well as better air in such a traffic pollluted area should be massacred.

    Shame on you Mr Herrera !!

  2. says:

    Hi Alfred,

    What a sad day for Malta 😦 what a destructive country … Really thinking of leaving this place and go start a permaculture farm somewhere i rural Europe.

    Thank you for all you do for our environment!

    Wishing you well, Nadia

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. What a shame to lose such historic trees as these. Environmental vandalism.

  4. Vincent Gauci says:

    Words are not enough to show our disapproval for such insensitivity.

  5. Dr. Brian Farrugia says:

    An other majestic tree lost

  6. Dr. Brian Farrugia says:

    Why is not not the architect and site manager and foreman held to account ? These persons should have known better.
    Is the Minister a policeman ?

  7. TP says:

    What would it have cost them to uproot them in order to replant them elsewhere? I’m sure they would have been willingly ‘adopted’ in other gardens…truly shameful.

  8. Carmel Galea says:

    There is no coordination it seems between the heavy bureaucracies of the labour government. It they had the means to build a road, they would have the means to transplant these precious trees in an environmentally safe place.

  9. Maria Caruana says:

    What a pity. We find every excuse to chop mature trees down and leave ugly barren spaces instead. A nation of tree haters!

    • What is more worrying is that we have, or are supposed to have, a Minister to lead and educate on the protection of biodiversity. And he has an official entity, all paid out of public funds, to help him in doing so.
      Unfortunately, as in this case, they are more on the side of the tree haters than on the side of genuine lovers of biodiversity, in the national interest.

  10. Ray Pisani says:

    I am ashamed of our nationality and cannot quite get over this betrayal. The trees are ours and do not belong to Transport Malta.
    Ray Pisani

    • You do not have to be ashamed Ray. It is those who did nothing to save them, and who almost justified their destruction saying that these were not protected who should be ashamed. You have shown your feelings and anger at such barbaric activity. The national official environment entities were not on our side. So let them be ashamed at their complete failure.

  11. Godfrey Camilleri says:

    Any tree uprooting or hacking should be submitted to a special board created for this purpose; any request for uprooting/hacking should be posted on a board giving a chance to citizens to submit their observations; the decisions are also to be taken in an open session as done with building permits.

  12. Dr. Brian Farrugia says:

    A diseased and dead tree (ballut) was cut down at SVPR
    ERA gave permission only if ten more indigenous trees were planted

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