Happy Christmas & a Happy New year 2018

December 14, 2017

Nixtiequ l-Milied hieni u s-sena l-ġdida 2018 mimlija risq u barka lil dawk kollha li taw l-għajnuna tagħhom, b’xi mod jew ieħor, għall-ħarsien u l-apprezzament aħjar għall-ambjent naturali tagħna lkoll, kif ukoll li dawk li għadhom xettiċi dwar il-ħtieġa ta’ aktar responsabbiltà għal-ħarsien tal-ekosistema li aħna lkoll niddependu minnha.

J’Alla s-sena l-ġdida 2018 issibna naħdmu aktar flimkien id f’id għal dan il-għan biex inserħu moħħna li l-ispeċi tagħna l-bnedmin tkun tista’ tkompli toktor fuq din l-unika u mirakolużi pjaneta tagħna lkoll.

_________________________________

We would like to wish a very happy Christmas and a blessed and peaceful to new year 2018 to all those who gave their support, and helped in their own way for the protection and better appreciation of our natural environment, and also for those who are still a bit skeptic about such responsibility and the need for more responsibility to protect and conserve the ecosystem on which we all depend.

May the new year 2018  see everybody working more hand in hand towards efforts which will ensure the survival of our own species on this unique and wonderful planet Earth.

Advertisements

Masters in eco destruction

November 20, 2017

Monday, 20 September, 2017

Masters in eco destruction

Alfred E Baldacchino

One of the many activities at the Majjistral History and Nature Park: educational walk for schools.

The Majjistral Park has been struck, not by blows from prevailing north-westerly winds, but by the Minister for the Environment, who succumbed to pressure and increased the time for the decimation of biodiversity at the park, and diminished the park’s educational potential.

Added to this is the tacit approval and the clearing of all obstacles for off-roading in the park, despite it being illegal.

It was during Parliament’s Environment and Development Planning Committee that I first met Herrera. His outburst, completely unrelated to the subject under discussion, was of promises of invasive species and tree protection regulations, which never materialised, and I do not have any inkling that they ever will.

The first environmental hurdle sent the Ministry flat on its face and the second one nailed it for keeps. ERA, the Authority responsible for our environment, was silent and absent from the PA decision on the power station and from the decision related to environmental permits, because of divine intervention and conflicts of interest! I can almost understand this better today. The sound of silence reigns supreme at ERA and the Ministry when confronted with anti-environment decisions.

It was very evident from day one that under this tenure, the Maltese people and our environment had to fasten our seat belts for a very rough ride.

60 olive trees on the university campus were so ‘pruned’ because their leaves were dropping on car parked below.

And so it was to be. Months later 60 mature olive trees on the university campus were chopped down, because the leaves of the trees were falling on cars parked below! And down went the trees with the order from university and the blessing of ERA.

Another feather in the Minister’s cap – half a dozen old indigenous oak trees eliminated to widen the road, barely half a metre.

More recently, half a score of old indigenous majestic oak trees at Lija, some centenarians, were also chopped down with the blessing of Herr-ERA, without any consideration of any tree protection order.

Instead, the minister boasted that they were not protected, confirming his failure to do so. Down they went too with ministry blessing. Rubbing salt in the wound, the strip where they grew is still there, and the only invasive tree which grew in the area is still there too. Who can understand endemic political intelligence, backed by top cream University academics?

The University saw no harm in chopping 60 old olive trees on its campus, so why should they worry about chopping down half a score of old oaks on public land?

Buskett, a Natura 2000 site, has a Cabinet-approved management plan sitting somewhere on the ministry’s shelves. (photo: Times of Malta)

The strange environmental (or anti-environmental) mentality within this ministry is also evident at Buskett, a Natura 2000 site, which has a Cabinet-approved management plan sitting somewhere on the ministry’s shelves. Works are being undertaken by the ministry’s employees with funds from the EU, in a LIFE Saving Buskett project.

environmental massacre taking place makes one wonder if the University is academically competent to prepare professional, scientific non-partisan qualified citizens

A stretch of maquis in this Natura 2000 site was bulldozed to accommodate machinery to build rubble walls. Two rare, strictly protected trees were chopped down to enable machinery manoeuvring. Adjacent trees were ‘pruned’ not to scratch machinery. Terrain was dumped on rare species of flora: thanks to EU funds and ERA.

Two mature hawthorn strictly protected tress in Buskett a Natura 2000 site chopped down to make way for vehicles! And not a whisper from the Ministry for the Environment.

From my understanding, University professional personnel are monitoring such works at Buskett. If true, what kind of qualifications is the University dishing out?  Undoubtedly “one will find something more in woods than in books. The trees and stones teach what one never learns from the masters” (Bernard De Clairvaux).

University professors abound on the board of ERA, including the rector of the University himself. The environmental massacre taking place under the watch of this ministry makes one wonder if the University is academically competent to prepare professional, scientific non-partisan qualified citizens.

Their tacit stand (or direct or indirect involvement) on environmental matter can only lead one to start asking if they are hand in glove in such official environment loss. And one cannot help but ask if partisan politics are having their toll on university academics too?

The invasive fountain grass used in landscaping by the Government’s landscaper, has invaded valleys, fields, roads, and urban areas without any action from the Ministry for the Environment.

Herrera’s ministry is more renowned for chopping and killing trees and biodiversity than anything else, despite the fact that it should be “planting a tree in the name of every new-born or adopted child in Malta”, as the electorate had been assured and promised.

Besides, this ministry, tacitly or not, has never taken any stand on the control of invasive species planted by its now official landscaper, contrary to national and international obligations, and with negative impacts on the social and biological detriment of our islands.

His vote in the EU on the complete ban of glyphosate, which is decimating pollinators, is now awaited.

Herrera knows that these decisions are diametrically opposite to his government’s electoral promise where all the people were assured that “environmental protection will be given priority and strength in all major decisions of the government”.

Why can’t we have a real ministry for the environment? Why cannot we have an environmental minister on the side of biodiversity protection and conservation, in the national interest?

My country, its people and our environment come first and foremost, above any blinkered partisan mentality. This is what prevents me from keeping silent. What is wrong in yearning for my country to excel socially, ecologically, spiritually, ethically, and financially?

Is it anti-good governance to hope that the less fortunate, educationally, financially and socially, are not exploited for the benefit of a selected few? Is there anything wrong to expect that such aims and social justice are encouraged, and help given to those involved trying to achieve such noble aims? Shouldn’t these aims be upheld by all those who have true Maltese blood running in their veins?

Unfortunately it seems that it is becoming unsafe to even dare have such a dream. Some are being labelled ‘traitors’, and may also be exposed to danger of life and limb, as has indeed happened.

Has local partisan politics eroded, for sectarian benefits, even our strong character which has seen us Maltese win over every evil since we set foot on these islands? Have we reached a state where “it is dangerous to be right when the established authorities are wrong”, as the French enlightenment writer Voltaire said.

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

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

related articles

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/lija-oak-cemetery/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/lija-oak-cemetery/

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/2017/02/17/herr-era-and-glyphosate/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/glyphosate-il-prezz-gholi-li-qed-inhallsu/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/glyphosate-you-with-addenda/

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

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/trees-and-invasive-species/

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

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

 

 


Propagating Maltese trees

September 19, 2017

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Are you interested in trees? Do you love trees? Do you want to know more on the Maltese indigenous trees which have been adorning our Country before man set foot on these islands? Do you want to start propagating these trees yourself and contribute to their conservation? Do you want to give a helping hand towards their protection?

If yes, then this is an opportunity not to be missed. Your benefit will also be the trees benefit.

See you there.

 


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 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.