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

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Valley flora being slowly choked by invasive plant

March 9, 2013

times

Saturday, March 9, 2013 by

Juan Ameen

Valley flora being slowly choked by invasive plant

A biodiversity expert has expressed concern that the flora of Wied Babu in Żurrieq, a protected Natura 2000 site, is slowly being choked by an invasive plant from the Americas.

Alfred Baldacchino said the biodiversity at Wied Babu was “under great negative impact” by Cardiosperum grandiflorum, also known as Showy Balloon Vine or Love in a Puff.

2. Cardiospermum grandiflorum spreading at Wied Babu

1. Cardiospermum grandiflorum spreading at Wied Babu

The plant has already had a negative impact on carob trees, Mediterranean Heather and brambles at the mouth of the valley and “is rapidly advancing towards a healthy stand of protected buckthorn, destroying everything in its wake”, Mr Baldacchino said.

He pointed out that the plant was also spreading at the other end of the valley – one of the richest environments for Maltese indigenous flora.

3. Cardiospermum grandiflorum suffocating carob trees and brmable

2. Cardiospermum grandiflorum suffocating carob trees and bramable

The plant originates from the tropical regions of the Americas, especially Brazil and eastern Argentina, and has been introduced outside its native range as an ornamental garden plant.

However, Mr Baldacchino said its overall negative impacts were devastating. He believes it was originally imported as a garden plant and then it “either escaped accidentally or somebody dispersed its seeds intentionally”.

The seeds are dispersed by water and air and the plant forms dense infestations out­competing indigenous vegetation. Its weight can also cause branches to break.

4. Cardiospermum grandiflorum deadly seeds

3. Cardiospermum grandiflorum deadly seeds

Such is the negative impact on indigenous species that it has been listed as a noxious weed in South Africa, Australia, the US and New Zealand, according to Mr Baldacchino.

Its invasiveness is so acute it has been added to the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation Alert list, he said.

Invasive alien species were spreading all over the world mainly because of transport and the ornamental garden industry, he pointed out, adding that some people claim the damage by these species was more acute than climate change.

5. Cardiospermum grandiflorum thicket at Wied Babu

4. Cardiospermum grandiflorum thicket at Wied Babu

A number of international conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and also the EU Environmental Acquis, tackle invasive species. The EU has an ad hoc committee that is studying the spread and drafting additional regulations for immediate control.

Malta is obliged to honour these provisions, which have been transposed into local legislation.

A number of publications such as the National Environment Policy and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority ‘s new guidelines for the management of invasive plants were published but no enforcement or monitoring was being done.

Mr Baldacchino said one of the measures was to stop the plant from expanding.

8. Cardiospermum grandiflorum deadly seeds

5. Cardiospermum grandiflorum deadly seeds

“This is not relatively difficult, though it needs manpower, and ongoing monitoring to uproot seedlings and established plants is urgently necessary,” he added.

Mr Baldacchino said he had received reports from the Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar Tree Group that the vine was also spreading up the trees along Birkirkara’s Valley Road.

He informed the Environment Ministry and the planning authority, which said they were studying the matter.

The best form of management and control was prevention, which “unfortunately is completely absent”.

Where these plants have set root, Mr Baldacchino said, the best control method was to weed them before they seeded to reduce the dispersal.

Consistent follow-up was required for sustainable management.

“This is quite a heavy economical, social and ecological price that we have to bear following neglect and inadequate attention to prevent such alien species from establishing themselves,” he said.

 

Further reading:

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/eu-stand-on-invasive-species/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/the-introduction-of-alien-species-into-the-natural-environment-%E2%80%93-a-european-concern/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-red-palm-weevil-another-alien-species/


Seminar on the benefits and use of trees

February 22, 2013

Introduction to Maltese native trees

Alfred E. Baldacchino

On Tuesday 10th February 2013, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar Tree Group in collabortion with the Attard Local Coucil organised a seminar on The benefits and use of tree. 

The FAA Tree Group was established following the outcry against the wanton and  widespread destruction of urban trees both in Malta and Gozo by Government Ministries,  paid from public funds. The response for such a first activity of the FAA Tree Group was immediate:

  • there were more than 100 participants who not only followed the presentations with great interests, but also took notes;
  • asked a number of pertinent questions, and
  • also demanded more information and similar meetings on the better use and appreciation of Maltese indigenous trees.

The seminar covered information on Maltese indigenous trees and the need for more appreciation especially by those who are entrusted to protect them; the benefits that trees give to society and the environment, and also their contribution to the economical aspect. The need to prevent the introduction of invasive species which can devastate the Maltese ecosystem, was also highlighted.

The partecipants were also addressed with regards to the use and benefits of trees in the urban environment and how this can be undertaken in a professional way.

A short presentation on tree protection regulations was also given.

Following the seminar, the demand for copies of the presentations were more than expected

As a first additional step towards the aim of more appreciation and protection of trees, the slides (used as the basis but without any animation, used during the presentaiton) can be viewed on the following link

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/presentation-seminar-on-the-benefits-and-use-of-trees/