Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja

November 18, 2013

L-Orizzont fit-22 ta’  Ottubru, 2013 ippublika aħbar dwar il-massakru tas-siġar fis-Saqqajja r-Rabat.

Jien  ikkumentajt fuq din l-aħbar fit-29 ta’ Ottubru, 2013 , kif ukoll korrispondent ieħor minn Toronto l-Kanada.

Il-MEPA, l-Awtorità Kompetenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar fil-gżejjer Maltin (għalmenu fuq il-karta biss) fid-9 ta’ Novembru, 2013, ħasset li kellha tikkoreġi xi kummenti li għamilt jien.

Illum 18 ta’ Novembru, 2013, l-Orizzont ippubblika l-ittra tiegħi bi tweġiba għall-kummenti tal-MEPA. Qiegħed nehemż dawn il-kummenti kollha fuq dan il-post.

Image

It-Tnejn, 18 ta’  Novembru 2013

Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Sur Editur,

Nixtieq nirreferi għall-ittra tal-MEPA bi tweġiba għal ittra oħra, intitolata “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”, ir-Rabat, li dehret fil-ħarġa tal-ġurnal l-orizzont tas-Sibt, 9 ta’ Novembru, 2013. F’din l-ittra l-MEPA tgħid li:

1.  Fil-programm, is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li jekk siġra hija protetta hemm bżonn il-permess tal-MEPA biex din tinżabar jew tinqala’ minn postha, iżda jekk is-siġra mhijiex protetta, hemm bżonn biss il-permess tad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.

Ir-regolamenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar – Avviż Legali 200 tal-2011 – jgħid li l-awtorità kompetenti (jiġifieri l-MEPA) għandha tkun responsabbli għall­-amministrazzjoni, implimentazzjoni u inforzar ta’ dawn ir-regolamenti. Imkien f’dawn ir-regolamenti, jew f’xi oħrajn, ma hemm referenza għad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.

Tista’ l-MEPA tagħmel referenza għal-liġi li turi li d-Departiment tal-Agrikultura huwa b’xi mod responsabbli legalment kif qiegħda tgħid hi? Jiddispjaċini ngħid li l-MEPA qiegħda tipprova titfa’ r-responsabbiltà tagħha fuq Ministeru ieħor li ma għandu l-ebda obbligu legali, biex tgħatti xturha.

2.  Il-MEPA qalet ukoll li mill-investigazzjoni tagħha sabet li ma kien hemm l-ebda ksur ta’ regolamenti. Dan, għax kif qalet, mir-ritratti tal-ajru, dawn is-siġar miżbura għandhom inqas minn 50 sena. Ma nafx x’ritratti għandha l-MEPA u minn fejn ġabet dawn ir-ritratt u d-dati. Kull min hu tal-età tiegħi u hu mir-Rabat bħali, jaf li dawn is-siġar għandhom sewwa viċin it-80 sena. Jekk it-tagħrif li għandha l-MEPA biex toħroġ permessi tal-bini huwa ta’ dan it-tip, mhux ta’ b’xejn fil-pajjiż hawn din il-qerda kollha tal-ambjent naturali.

saqqajja trees5

Ritratt mehud fl-1961 li juri s-siġar tas-Saqqajja fejn diġà jidhru li kellhom madwar il-15-il sena. Imma mir-ritratti li għandha l-MEPA dawn is-siġar għad ma għadnhomx 50 sena.

3.  Il-MEPA qalet ukoll li skont l-Avviż Legali 200 tal-2011, siġar tal-Fikus jeħtieġu permess tal-MEPA biex jinżabru jekk huma ixjaħ minn 50 sena u jinsabu fl-ODZ, Żoni Protetti jew UCA. Dan juri l-istat miskin ta’ kif il-MEPA ħarbtet ir-regolamenti fl-2011 (għax xi ħadd hekk ried) biex il-qerda tas-siġar li qiegħda sseħħ, kemm mill-kuntrattur tal-Gvern, kemm minn xi kunsilli lokali, insomma minn min irid jeqred jew ibiċċer, ikun jista’ jagħmel fl-urban mingħajr ebda permess mingħand ħadd.

Dan kollu minkejja li, skont l-ewwel sentenza fil-viżjoni tal-MEPA ippubblikata fuq il-websajt tagħha stess, u se nikkwota:

L-għan tagħna huwa li ngħaddu lit-tfal tagħna pajjiż aħjar minn dak li writna. Huwa minħabba f’hekk li aħna nqabblu l-ambjent ma’ teżor, xi ħaġa li nużaw l-enerġija tagħna biex inħarsu, biex nieħdu ħsieb u biex intejjbu. L-ambjent jiġbor kollox: in-natura, il-kultura u anki l-wirt arkitettoniku, bliet u rħula, il-kampanja, l-ibħra u l-arja. Aħna nemmnu li flimkien għandna bil-għaqal nippjanaw biex il-wirt tagħna, din il-ġawhra li aħna ngħożżu, ma tgħibx għal dejjem.

saqqajja trees3

Kif kienu jinżabru s-siġar minn missiriejiitna. Dawn ma kellhom l-ebda viżjoni miktuba imma din kienet tidher fix-xogħol tagħhom fuq l-art.

U tagħlaq billi, fost oħrajn, tgħid: “Il-valuri li jispirawna biex nilħqu l-obbligi tagħna huma dawk li jħallu effett pożittiv fuq is-soċjetà. Il-valuri huma marbutin ma’ ġustizzja murija f’deċiżjonijiet għaqlin u f’waqthom u infurzati b’mod ġust. Jekk aħna napplikaw dawn il-valuri b’determinazzjoni, inkunu qed ngħinu biex infasslu il-ġid komuni, kunċett li huwa riżultat tal-għeruq Kristjani ta’ dan il-pajjiż. Dawn il-valuri, applikati b’mod professjonali, jagħtu evidenza tal-integrità tal-Awtorità f’dak kollu li tagħmel u li tgħid.

Kif ġabuhom is-siġar illum.  Imma kif dan il-pajjiż tilef kull sengħa, kull pġrofessjonalità, kull rispett, u tilef ruħhu għall-flus.

Kif inżabru l-istess sigar meta għandna l-MEPA li għandha vijżoni  miktuba, imma ma tidher imkien fix-xogħol tagħha fuq l-art.

Filwaqt li din il-viżjoni ma hemm xejn x’wieħed jgħid fiha, il-mod kif il-MEPA qiegħda timxi magħha jew iġġiegħlek tidħak jew tibki, speċjalment meta din l-awtorità hi mħallsa minn flus il-poplu biex tħares dak li hu tal-poplu. Jekk hix il-MEPA li qed tidħak bil-poplu jew hux il-poplu li qed jidħak bil-MEPA inħalli f’idejkom.

Illum il-poplu huwa aktar intelliġenti u għandu kuxjenza b’saħħitha favur l-ambjent. Il-MEPA tista’ taħseb li b’xi mod tista’ tgħaddi l-poplu minn għajn il-labra. Lili mhux biss ma tikkonvinċinix imma ma niddejjaq xejn ngħid li l-MEPA, wara li l-ewwel ħatfet id-Dipartiment tal-Ambjent, illum ġabitu fix-xejn, u nqisha li hija l-akbar għadu tal-ambjent naturali fil-gżejjer Maltin.

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is-Sibt, 9 ta’ Novembru 2013.

 PETER GINGELL, Maniġer tal-Komunikazzjoni, MEPA

“Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”

Sur Editur,
Nirreferi għall-ittra lill-Editur li dehret fil-ġurnal l-orizzont nhar it-Tlieta, 29 ta’ Ottubru 2013, mibgħuta mis-Sur Alfred Baldacchino taħt it-titlu “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”.
Fl-ittra tiegħu is-Sur Baldacchino qal li s-CEO tal-MEPA, waqt programm ta’ diskussjoni fuq One TV, kien skorrett meta qal li l-qlugħ u ż-żbir tas-siġar huma r-responsabbiltà tad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.
Il-MEPA trid tiċċara li s-Sur Baldacchino għażel li jikkwota parti minn dak li qal iċ-CEO tal-MEPA, is-Sur Johann Buttigieg.
Fil-programm, is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li jekk siġra hija protetta hemm bżonn il-permess tal-MEPA biex din tinżabar jew tinqala’ minn postha, iżda jekk
is-siġra mhijiex protetta hemm, bżonn biss il-permess tad-Dipartiment tal-Agrikultura.
Fil-każ fejn numru ta’ siġar tal-Fikus ġew miżbura fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat, il-MEPA wara li għamlet l-investigazzjoni tagħha sabet li ma kien hemm l-ebda ksur ta’ regolament. Dan għax mir-ritratti tal-ajru, dawn s-siġar miżbura għandhom inqas minn 50 sena.
Skont l-Avviż Legali 200 tal-2011, siġar tal-Fikus jeħtieġu permess tal-MEPA biex jinżabru jekk huma ixjaħ minn 50 sena u jinsabu fl-ODZ, Żoni Protetti jew UCA.

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It-Tlileta 29 ta’ Ottubru, 2013.

ALFRED E. BALDACCHINO,
“Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja”

Sur Editur,
Qrajt b’interess ir-rapport intitolat “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat” ippubblikat fil-ħarġa ta’ l-orizzont ta’ nhar it-Tlieta, 22 ta’ Ottubru.
Din il‑qerda ta’ siġar f’pajjiżna issa ilha għaddejja s-snin. Hija qerda bla rażan, bla raġuni, u milli jidher bla ħadd mhu lest li jerfa’ reponsabbiltà għaliha.
Il-fragmentazzjoni li teżisti fil-ħarsien tas‑sigar mhi qiegħda tgħin xejn biex is-siġar li qegħdin jikbru f’pajjiżna jkunu mħarsin kif suppost.
Ftit tal-ħin ilu kont qiegħed nara programm ta’ diskussjoni fuq ONE TV fejn is-CEO tal-MEPA qal li l-ilqugħ u ż-żbir tas-siġar huma responsabbiltà tal-
Agrikultura. Dan mhux korrett. Din ir-responsabbiltà kienet hemm taħt ir-regolamenti l-qodma tal-2001. Imma dawn ġew revokati u mibdula mill-MEPA stess fil-2011.
Illum il-MEPA hija l-awtorità kompetenti għall-ħarsien tas-siġar skont ir-regolamenti tal-ħarsien tagħhom li għamlet hi stess.
Naħseb li hemm bżonn immedjat li l-Prim Ministru jindirizza din il-fragmentazzjoni llum qabel għada biex ma tkompliex issir aktar qerda.
ALFRED E. BALDACCHINO,
Ħ’Attard
Sur Editur,
Wara li fil-ħarġa ta’ l-orizzont ta’ nhar it-Tlieta, 22 ta’ Ottubru, qrajt l-artiklu taħt ir-ras “Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat”, inkompli nistaqsi lili
nnifsi, għax milli jidher dawk responsabbli qatt ma ħassew l-obbligu li jagħtu kont ta’ għemilhom, x’inhi r-raġuni ta’ dan iż-żbir tas-siġar, speċjalment
b’dan il-mod selvaġġ.
Jien, fl-opinjoni tiegħi, naħseb li kull ma qiegħed isir hu li s-siġar qegħdin jaqtgħu nifishom għax dawn mill-weraq jieħdu n-nifs.
Jien ngħix f’Toronto, belt mimlija siġar. Tant hawn siġar illi jekk jibdew jiżbruhom, kieku ma jispiċċaw qatt.
ĠORĠ IL-QORMI,
Toronto – il-Kanada

 

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Aħarijiet

22 ta’ Ottubru, 2013

Massakru minn siġar fis-Saqqajja, ir-Rabat

saqqajja trees
Għal darb’oħra f’pajjiżna qegħdin naraw massakru minn għadd ta’ siġar meta dawn jinżabru. Laħħar każ seħħ fis-Saqqajja r-Rabat. Dawn is-siġar ma ġralhomx bħas-siġar tal-Ħamrun li ż-żbir tagħhom twaqqaf meta saru għadd ta’ rapporti. Sfortunatament dawn is-siġar kollha nżabru b’mod mill-aktar selvaġġ.
Għalkemm jidher li saru xi rapporti qiegħed jingħad li dawn is-siġar m’għandhomx 50 sena. Minkejja dan huma diversi dawk ir-Rabtin li llum għandhom minn 75 sena ’l fuq, li qegħdin isostnu li dawn is-siġar tat-tip Fikus Nitida ilhom fil-Pjazza tas-Saqqajja aktar minn 50 sena.
Rabti li tkellem magħna qalilna li “ma nistax nifhem kif dawn is-siġar jinżabru b’dan il-mod. Li jinżabru hu tajjeb, imma mhux jitħallew kważi għerja għal kollox mill-weraq”. L-istess resident qalilna li “fir-Rabat għandna kwistjoni oħra fuq siġar li jinsabu fi Triq Santa Rita u li s’issa qed jiġu indikati li se jinqalgħu bħala parti minn proġett. Nisperaw li dan ma jsirx. Illum dawn joffru ftit dell għal min ipoġġi taħthom, jekk jinqalgħu xemx biss se jkun hemm,” sostna l-istess resident.

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Need of an urban tree management plan

March 28, 2013

 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.

FAA TREES

 TREE BUTCHERING CONTINUES

 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.

Email: sigar@faa.org.mt

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


Let’s hide our face in shame following more information on trees – 2

December 22, 2012

times

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Of trees and fortified cities

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Last month was not a good one for trees, not so kindly handled by three contributions to The Times. The director of Mepa’s environment protection directorate was the harbinger (November 13), followed by Mepa board member Giovanni Bonello (November 18), with a past Minister for the Environment completely missing the wood for the trees (November 25).
Bonello’s well-researched, in-depth contribution emphasised the need for better appreciation of fortifications. A very admirable work, though I feel the need to dot some i’s and cross some t’s.
During the Great Siege, the Knights, while defending this barren island, were not in the best of moods to plant trees. It is understandable that paintings of battles do not show any trees in the vicinity of fortifications.
One has to admit that some of the trees, more than 50 years old today, are growing in the vicinity or inside fortifications and some can be of concern. However, one has to accept that such old trees now form part of an ecosystem and one cannot bulldoze the natural heritage to solve an aesthetic problem, creating a more sensitive ecological one.
I would never have planted the Ficus nitida trees in front of the law courts, for example. When the area was dug up, it showed the beautiful hidden magnificent underground arched passages. Today, these accommodate the city’s hidden sewers and priceless, neglected, damaged water cisterns. Some tree roots have also crept in.
Over the years, these trees have become the roost for white wagtails wintering in the Maltese islands. It is an opportunity for a scientific study of such a roost (unless they sought refuge in a walled fortified city for protection). Only a professional plan of action can contribute to a solution, certainly not heavy machinery with men wielding chainsaws. It has to be done gradually with the input of all stakeholders, no matter how “philistine” or “ignoramus” they are in the cultural heritage.
It is indeed surprising how the Ministry for the Environment and its entourage, past and present, are so good at coining adjectives for those who have the environment at heart, the main stakeholders. The November contributions refer to “treehuggers’, “chorus of tree-huggers”, “fifty shades of philistine”, “complete ignoramus on cultural heritage”, “crass ignorance and crasser arrogance of self proclaimed DIY environmentalists”, and “self-anointed custodians of the heritage kingdom”. I know a couple more, not coined this November  (for some other varied coined adjectives please see: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121209/opinion/Trees-and-the-fortifications.448816). If the Ministry for the Environment and its chorus were as good at protecting the environment as they are in coining such adjectives, Malta’s environment would be heaven on earth. Such adjectives, though, are of great satisfaction for environmentalists. Drowning men clutch at straws and shun stakeholders’ altruistic hands.
The strongest points of Bonello’s contribution regarding fortifications make me feel very sad, even though historical fortifications are not my battle horse.
“Nowhere in the world are fortifications more extensive, more impressive, more outstanding than they are in Malta.” “It is to be self-evident, that if a nation has something really precious to boast of, it would want its treasures seen, and seen to their best advantage.” “…people would do their utmost to enhance the visibility of anything inestimable.” “Those who still have them, flaunt them, enhance them, try to squeeze every cent of added value from them.” I feel as strongly as Bonello does regarding such a priceless, unique heritage.
“Over the past two centuries many conspired to debase them.” Yes, not even two World Wars managed to indent such majestic fortifications despite the fact that warfare became much more sophisticated. But after Malta gained independence, the jewel in the crown of our majestic walled fortifications was the first to bite the dust. King Carnival (KC) was helped by Maltese politicians to win the fortified city with just one stroke of a pen! One has to be genuinely demented to inherit the works of the best architect who constructed a monumental façade, and replace it with a garage door to let KC go through without a fight. If only the fortified Valletta gate was hidden behind some trees, KC would not have gone through!

vallettagate

Even the past colonisers realised the importance of Malta’s historical past. When Malta gained Independence in 1964 the responsibility of historical protection passed to Maltese Politicians. It did not take them long to replace this with a garage door (see below)

800px-Valletta_City_Gate

The garage door built  after independence, replacing the Valletta City Gate. It makes it easier for King Carnival with his carnival floats to pass through

A one-in-a-million chance of rehabilitating the fortified Valletta gate was lost when Mepa, the environment watchdog, decided to send such a gate to the photographic album of history, endorsing an €80 million government project.

Borrowing another quote from the learned judge, “Unless they look awesome and frightening, bastions are a joke.” Many will walk through such a joke, be they ignoramuses, tree huggers, DIY environmentalists, all shades of philistines, historians, researchers, politicians, clergy or men in the street. It will be the extension of the king carnival joke, with piano music in the background. This is surely not the way the Knights of Malta intended the bastions to look. Where walled cities are concerned, “we are definitively guilty of lèse majesté”.

66dfb482b95fc5e5d67279ae159512681882420801-1346759704-5045ec18-360x251

“Unless they look awesome and frightening, bastions are a joke.” (Giovanni Bonello). The plans for the City Gate Project approved by MEPA in 2010. Undoubtedly taking in considration that King Carnival can still pass through with ease. This is surely not the way the Knights of Malta intended the bastions to look. Where walled cities are concerned, “we are definitively guilty of lèse majesté”.

Who can now dethrone King Carnival from Valletta, the magnificent fortified walled city? If only KC was a tree, the magnificent Valletta’s fortification gate could still be seen!

aebaldacchino@gmail.com
Alfred Baldacchino was assistant director responsible for the protection of biodiversity within Mepa.

Original article

Of trees and fortified cities – http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121222/opinion/Of-trees-and-fortified-cities.450506

See also

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/lets-hide-our-face-in-shame-following-further-news-on-trees-1/

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121113/opinion/Further-notes-on-trees.445157

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121118/life-features/Let-s-hide-the-majestic-bastions.445894


Let’s hide our face in shame following further news on trees – 1

November 20, 2012

            Let’s hide our face in shame following further news on trees – 1

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Two recent articles published in the Times during November are clearly in line with the above quote by philosopher Schopenhauer. Two articles penned by two MEPA officials: the Director of the Environment Protection Directorate and an eminent gentlemen on the MEPA’s board.

The number of letters appearing in the media and on various blogs  complaining, criticising and disapproving  the mismanagement of trees, to put it mildly, embarrassed the Minister and his watchdog responsible for the protection,  communication, education and public awareness, to the extent that they have become almost isolated.  So MEPA have gone to the front line to dispel such complaints and belittle such criticism.

The first article Further notes on trees by MEPA’s  Director of the Environment Protection Directorate  was published on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 (see article on link below).

Conservationists and environmentalists were advised that “Overly high-pitched reactions to any discussion about trees could have the longer-term undesirable effect of discouraging some people from planting more trees on their properties”. Could this perhaps refer to the Nadur Cemetery which is threatening the livelihood of a community of farmers who cultivate hundreds of citrus trees in Wied il-Qasab because of MEPA’s approval for the construction of a cemetery?  Could it be a reference to MEPA’s postponement and postponement of an appeal’s decision while the building of the cemetery is still going on nearing completion? Or could it be  a reference to MEPA’s approval of the uprooting (except for 3) of all the trees in the Mdina Ditch including an 80+ year old olive tree, a dozen of  Cyprus trees, and nearly all the citrus trees and the indigenous wild ivy? Or perhaps to the latest MEPA permit for the building in part of an old garden in Villa Meckrech – Tas-Sinjura,  Għaxaq? Or perhaps due to the lack of public consultations with regards to the present mismanagemnt of trees in the islands?

The appeal regarding this developmend has been postponed and postponed and postponed by MEPA.
In the meantime works at the cemterey have continued. Not only so but during November 2012, the cemtery has been surrounded by a wall. Is it possible that MEPA has issued a permit for such a development? And if not, why has it not taken any action?

 Readers were also informed that  “the overall total amount of trees in Malta has increased significantly over the last decades” and “Trees were mainly planted in walled gardens, orchards, fields and some hunting grounds. It was during the British period that trees began to be planted more widely in urban public spaces and along roads.”  Which of these trees can be considered safe today under the present MEPA’s policy, vision of development and the shallow understanding of ecosystems? The above three examples clearly indicate that none  are safe.

 “Afforestation projects carried out by both the government and environmental NGOs have planted thousands of trees in recent years.”  Very true but what kind of trees are being planted, and how were these planted? The 34U campaign has come to  mean more a Tree for Uprooting considering that the aim is more to boast about the quantity of trees (as highlighted in the quote above) rather than the quality and professionalism used. These have been planted so close to each other that they need to be thinned out if they are to grow and form a canopy.  Some of them have to be uprooted. Besides what kind of trees are being planted? Most of them are imported, some are  exotic and even invasive, to the extent that the number of aliens species being imported is alarming. This despite the fact that MEPA is the  authority responsible to ensure that this should  not happen.

With regards to the criticism  regarding the uprooting of Paola square trees, MEPA said that “In this case, the final decision on whether the Paola trees will be uprooted now rests with the local council.” Does this mean that a permit will be issued by MEPA for uprooting these trees if the Paola Local Council decides so? Has MEPA renounced its responsibility for the protection of trees in Malta?

With regards to the Mdina Ditch fiasco, MEPA’s official wrote that “The cultural heritage experts advising on the project gave priority to enhancing the view of the historic bastions and ditch, which are unique, rather than the citrus trees which are far from unique and can be moved. On the other hand, other persons gave more importance to the citrus trees growing in the ditch, which have no relevance to the historic bastions but which have been there for some time and which people had become accustomed to enjoying. An outcry ensued. It was a question of perspective.”

 I am sorry to say that this is side-tracking the whole issue.  The citrus trees were not the main concern.  The greatest concerns were the uprooting of protected olive trees, one more than 80 years old (with MEPA’s endorsement), the destruction of the ecological habitat formed by the ivy growing on the side of the Howard Gardens, the amount of turf which will be planted, the amount of water which this will take, the dancing water fountains (which have no relevance to the historic bastions), the excavation of water cisterns which do not figure in the MEPA permit for the works in the ditch. All this with MEPA approval? A question of perspective or an overly high-pitched reaction!

“Ficus nitida can however be inconvenient when situated very close to benches and popular recreational spots, due to their small dark fruit which covers the ground in certain seasons, and their attraction to birds which can lead to a considerable amount of bird droppings – as seen, for instance, in the square outside the Gozo Ministry in Rabat.”

porofessional management

Dingli Local Council’s solution –
the birds can poo to their heart’s content; the tree can shed its leaves without concern, and the people can sit and gossip all day and all night long.
MEPA’s solution – chop the tree down and  the bill will be paid from public funds.

Established trees form part of an ecosystem and IF there is a problem this is not solved by cutting down the trees to keep the birds away. Why not move the   benches in the first place, for example?  Such a statement coming from MEPA vindicates those who maintain that the Environment Directorate and the Planning Directorate should never be together because MEPA still does not understand what an ecosystem means.  Some local council have managed to solve this problem which MEPA, for some reason or other, has not even dreamt of.

The article concluded by a reference to the National Environment Policy emphasising that

“Its implementation requires no less than a gradual cultural shift, across the board.”

So very true. Such a cultural shift is desperately and urgently needed especially by MEPA who has been entrusted with the protection of the natural heritage, as obliged by the various international conventions, not least those of the EU, and also by a  number of national legislation. This is urgently needed if the Government’s and MEPA’s nicely coloured publications, including the National Environment Policy, were not published  just to adorn the bookshelves of history. And unfortunately this and the other article referred to (which I will comment on in another post) do not guarantee that such a cultural shift is in site at all by the authority who has been entrusted to protect such a heritage in the people’s name.

MEPA’s  online article in The Times  can be accessed on:

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121113/opinion/Further-notes-on-trees.445157

OTHER RELATED READINGS:

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/the-nadur-cemetery-%E2%80%93-where-the-dead-will-haunt-and-curse-the-living/?preview=true&preview_id=374&preview_nonce=df7e841c61

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/massacre-of-mdina-ditch-trees-is-the-eu-really-involved/?preview=true&preview_id=1050&preview_nonce=3835a76b71

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/trees-open-letter-to-the-prime-minister/?preview=true&preview_id=1375&preview_nonce=5e0a18cf49

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/once-there-were-green-leaves/?preview=true&preview_id=1182&preview_nonce=a98051a563

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/qerda-tal-biodiversita-fil-foss-tal-imdina-biex-isir-gnien-ta-kwalita/?preview=true&preview_id=1266&preview_nonce=9544b7e2f7

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/environmentalists-vs-government-over-trees/?preview=true&preview_id=1138&preview_nonce=7ada24a171