Il-ktieb: Fjuri tal-gżejjer Maltin

December 8, 2015

torca

Fjuri tal-gżejjer Maltin

Il-Ħadd 6 ta’ Diċembru, 2015

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Lanfranco, E., Bonett, G. (2015) Wild flowers of the Maltese Islands. BDL Publishers, Malta. pġ. 208.

Lanfranco huwa isem li mill-ewwel ifakkrek fin-natura. Edwin Lanfranco mbagħad iwasslek qalb il-pjanti: il-flora l-aktar dik indiġena tal-gżejjer Maltin u tal-Mediterran. Mingħajr dubju Edwin huwa l-botanista bl-akbar esperjenza u studji xjentifiċi dwar il-fjuri li jikbru u jżejnu l-ambjent naturali ta’ pajjiżna.

Mill-banda l-oħra Guido Bonett illum huwa fost l-aqwa fotografi tan-natura. Jekk hux għasfur, insett żgħir jew fjura, żgur li Guido, anke bl-esperjeza u l-imħabba tiegħu għall-ħlejjaq li jaqsmu din l-art magħna, għid li ma jistrieħx qabel jirnexxilu ‘jaħtaf’ bil-lenti tal-kamera u jiġbed ritratt wara ritratt biex jaqbdu u jippriserva dak il-mument fil-memorja tal-kamera diġitali tiegħu.

xewk tal-madonna

Xewk tal-Madonna

Ma għandiex xi ngħidu li l-għasfur, l-insett jew il-fjura lanqas biss ikunu jafu x’ġara għaliex ma jiġux mimsusa u jibqgħu għaddejjin bil-ħajja tagħhom ta’ kuljum. U Guido ferħan bir-ritratt tiegħu li jkun jista’ jaqsam ma’ dawk li jew ma għandhomx il-ħin biex igawdu minn dan il-ġmiel tan-natura, jew inkella mhux midħla ta’ dawn l-għeġubijiet.

suffejra tar-raba'

Suffejra tar-raba’

Kif wieħed jista’ jaħseb, meta mbagħad jiltaqgħu tnejn bħal Edwin u Guido, bil-għan li jippubblikaw ktieb fuq il-fjuri li nsibu f’pajjizna, allura bil-fors wieħed jistenna’ li jogħxa bil-ġmiel u bit-tagħrif miġbur. Għalkemm ftit apprezzat, wieħed jieħu gost jgħid li llum hawn ħafna nies għatxana bil-kbir biex ikunu jafu aktar fuq dawn l-għeġubijiet tan-natura.

wild flowers book

Il-qoxra ta’ quddiem tal-ktieb

Wild Flowers of the Maltese Islands b’208 paġna, ippubblikat mill-BDL Publishers, huwa ktieb ta’ din ix-xorta.

Minn aktar mill-1000 speċi ta’ fjuri li nsibu jikbru waħedhom fl-ambjent naturali ta’ pajjiżna, Edwin u Guido jagħtuna tagħrif fuq ’l fuq minn 300 speċi minnhom bir-ritratti mehmuża ta’ kull fjura. Tagħrif tekniku imma miktub b’mod popolari li anki dawk li ma humiex midħla tas-suġġett jistgħu jifhmu mingħajr xkiel.

Il-ktieb għandu daħla ta’ ħadd ħlief Guido Lanfranco, hu Edwin, u wieħed mill-pijunieri li ħadmu fi żminijiet mhux faċli u b’diffikutajiet kbar. Iżda Guido Lanfranco kien wieħed minn dawk li ħejja t-triq għall-aktar apprezzament u għarfien ta’ dan il-wirt ħaj. Fost il-kummenti li għamel Guido Lanfranco fid-daħla laqatni dak fejn qal li llum l-apprezzament ta’ dan il-wirt qiegħed jikber ħafna minkejja li l-ambjent naturali qiegħed jinqered b’rata perikoluża mgħaġġla.

L-awturi tal-ktieb jibdew billi jgħatu tagħrif dwar l-għamla tal-fjura u t-taqsimiet tagħha. Wara dan jingħata tagħrif ħafif fuq l-ambjent naturali ta’ pajjizna fejn wieħed jista’ jiltaqa’ mal-fjuri Maltin, bħal ngħidu aħna, il-bosk, il-makkja, ix-xagħri, l-istepa, l-irdumijiet, ix-xtut, l-għaram ramel, il-bwar salmastri, il-widien u l-għadajjar fil-blat, kif ukoll ambjenti mittiefsa mill-bniedem. It-tagħrif fuq kull tip ta’ ambjent huwa mgħejjun minn ritratti.

Jingħata tagħrif fuq kif l-ispeċi tal-fjuri kif huma migbura f’familji, f’ordnijiet u f’ġeneri.

għallet is-serduq

Għallet is-serduq

Wara dan it-tagħrif, il-ktieb ikompli b’ħames taqsimiet: taqsimiet ta’ ħames kuluri li kull waħda tiġbor fiha l-fjuri ta’ dak il-lewn, bħal: fjuri bojod, sofor, ħomor u roża, vjola u blu, ħodor u kannella. Dan jagħmilha eħfef biex wieħed ikun jista’ isib mill-ewwel il-fjura li jkun jixtieq isib tagħrif fuqha, jekk ma jkunx jaf x’isimha. U f’dawn it-taqsimiet hemm xita ta’ ritratti tal-fjuri Maltin ta’ kull kulur li jissemmew fil-ktieb.

Fl-aħħar tal-ktieb wieħed jista’ jsib glossarju, lista ta’ kliem xi ftit tekniku li huwa mfisser b’mod ħafif biex il-qarrej jifhem aħjar.

Wara l-glossarju nsibu tliet indiċi tal-ismijiet tal-fjuri kollha li jissemmew fil-ktieb. Indiċi bl-ismijiet xjentifiċi, ieħor bl-ismijiet bil-Malti u ieħor bl-ismijiet bl-Ingliż.

M’għandi l-ebda dubju li dan il-ktieb huwa ta’ siewi kbir għall-dawk kollha li jridu jkunu jafu aktar fuq il-wirt sinjur li n-natura ħejjitilna biex iżżejjen pajjiżna. Wirt fraġli u ħaj li jekk jinqered mhemm l-ebda triq biex jerġa’ jinġab lura. Huwa ktieb tajjeb għall-għalliema biex f’idejhom ikollhom minjiera ta’ tagħrif biex jgħinhom jgħallmu lill-istudenti tagħhom, f’kull livell tal-edukazzjoni, il-ġmiel ta’ pajjiżna u r-responsabbiltà li lkoll għandna biex dan il-wirt inħarsuh u nerġgħu ngħadduh lura bla mittifes lil dawk li selfuhulna.

Bżonjuz ħafna wkoll għall-medja, biex ikollhom f’idejhom l-ismijiet bil-Malti u r-ritratt tal-fjuri li wieħed jista’ jsib fil-gżejjer Maltin.

Dawk li jġemmgħu l-kotba Maltin jew fuq Malta żgur li għandhom isibhulu post fuq l-ixkaffef tal-Melitensia.

Insomma huwa bżonjuż għal kull minn għandu xi interss nazzjonali, l-aktar fuq il-wirt ħaj naturali.

U anki dawk li forsi f’dawn il-ġranet ifittxu xi ktieb biex jgħatu bħala rigal għall-Milied, ma jisgħux jagħmlu aħjar milli jgħatu kopja ta’ dan il-ktieb: rigal xieraq għall-Milied u rigal lill-ambjent natural bit-tixrid ta’ tagħrif dwar il-fjuri Maltin ta’ pajjiżna.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Environmentalists argue weakness of governments on environmental issues

December 26, 2014

http://www.independent.com.mt/img/logo.jpg

Environmentalists argue weakness of governments

on environmental issues

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Kevin Schembri Orland

“The environment is nothing but a buzzword for politicians on both sides, a buzzword used by them to sound nice and be popular”, Environment photographer Guido Bonett told The Malta Independent.”There has been a gradual degradation of the environment. This is due to a number of things, one of which is the mentality, where they believe that if it doesn’t vote or make money then it is useless. The development boom over the past 30 years has been a real back-breaker as far as the environment is concerned”.

Swallowtail butterfly - Farfett tal-bużbież

Swallowtail butterfly – Farfett tal-bużbież

Roads also disrupt habitats. “I don’t even want to imagine what kind of damage works around the Salina Coast road has caused”. “One thing that really worries me is the state of insect life on the island. Take butterflies for example, we have already lost a number of species and this comes down to the use of pesticides and loss of habitat. If we were to use insects as a thermometer for the wellbeing of the environment then it becomes obvious that we are in trouble. When I was younger, turning over a stone one would find a number of insects and arachnids, from scorpions to centipedes while today one would be lucky to find a couple of snails”.

As an example of species lost, Mr Bonnet said that the small copper butterfly hasn’t been sighted for over ten years. Turning to plants, he said we are losing species of plants just as we are losing species of insects.” One must look at nature as a guidocircle. If part of it is cut, then ripple effects will occur and man is part of this chain”.

Turning to marine life, he said that people who want to dispose of certain rubbish just chuck them into the sea. “The amount of sea pollution is staggering. When scouts hold a clean-up session at a beach, they collect around 50 sacks of garbage in a single morning”. Mr Bonett had a message to politicians, telling them to take the environment more seriously and not encroach on virgin land. “Decision makers need to realise that people who care about the environment have as many votes as those who don’t”.

Lack of appreciation a result of greed

“The fact that we are a small island means that developmental impacts on natural habitats are multiplied. In addition there is a lack of professional management with regard to such developments that leads to the loss of other resources. Take water for example, today we are no longer concerned with storing water when it rains, but rather pay a lot of money to funnel it out to sea. This affects wildlife as all species rely on water. There is also no professional planning when it coms to utilising such a scarce resource.

Landscaping is another problem, as it brings żringabout exotic invasive species of plants that contribute to the further destruction of the Maltese environment. If species being destroyed by development are utilised within the development, at least we would see some of what was taken given back to the eco-system”. “The ecosystem is like a web with everything intertwined. Without bees, for example, pollination would not occur, and thus flowers will not be able to multiply. If one is aware of such beneficial use of all living things, one would realise the importance of protecting such things as without them man wouldn’t be able to survive”.

Mr Baldacchino explained that insects provide food for other species, so aside from directly helping man, they help sustain other species thus creating a balance. Due to education and the availability of mass communication there is a strong awareness to the importance of our environment, he said. “We do tend to push the need to educate our children on the environment and while this is important it would take these children 25 years to really begin to contribute to society”. This shows a failure on the part of current generations who are trying to educate but not lead by example, he said.

Turning to the ‘Save the Countryside’ campaign launched by Din L-Art Helwa, Mr Bonett said; “I am very happy that Din L-Art Helwa took the initiative, which has seen many people showing interest in the environment”.  Mr Baldacchino said that the campaign focusses on saving wild species around the Maltese islands and the environment. “It is useless to protect species without protecting their habitats. This campaign is aimed at creating awareness and communicating the importance of biodiversity with the general public. The campaign is very stimulating and opens doors for future similar campaigns to help communicate and educate the public. It goes without saying that in a couple of years’ time, society and the eco-system will begin to pay the price for such neglect”.

“Membership in the EU means that we are obliged to transpose European legislation into local legislation and on paper, environmental legislation is sufficient. The main concern is, however, that nobody takes care of such legislation. It is not enforced, not administered and it is an open secret that nobody is eager to help the environment and everyone is just washing their hands of it. This is another failure of social responsibility. Environmental responsibility belongs to every Ministry and every person on this island whether he is a man off the street, the Minister of aebEnvironment, the Minister of Health or a member of the clergy. Without this delicate ecological balance, life cannot be sustained. Man is part of the eco-system,” Mr Baldacchino concluded.

“Considering the islands are relatively small, Malta has a large amount of species of flora. In the past they were used for traditional medicine and currently there is growing international awareness to the contribution that wild flora can give in medicine. In fact this movement is so great that many are turning back to traditional medicine”.

Everything is intertwined

“Pollution shows that man doesn’t care for tomorrow, that we are just living for today. We exploit what we can today and tomorrow, should the need arise, we would think about solving the problem. The idea that the earth has been loaned to us by future generations has been completely disregarded.

Environmentalist Alfred Baldacchino believes that the lack of appreciation for the Maltese eco-system, resulting in extensive development, is a result of greed for materialistic items.

“On a positive note, we have seen great leaps in sewage treatment in Malta”, he said.

Loss of species

“I was brought up in Birkirkara, and from Valley road up to Farsons not a single house was built back then. What really scares me is the possibility of even more development”. Mentioning Ta Cenc, “It is one of the few areas people like me can go and relax in nature, where it is nice and quite, yet every time I’m there the possibility that this area could be built up creeps into my mind”.

Milky Orchid - Orkida tat-tikki

Milky Orchid – Orkida tat-tikki

Mr Bonett believes that Malta has very much become a consumer-based society and because of this, production continues to grow thus making the situation worse. “40 years ago the word environment did not even exist, so slight improvements have been seen. Over the past few months, however, we have gone backwards”.

“In my opinion, we have never had a single decent Minister for the environment, and none of them have an idea of what they are talking about. To these people, a piece of land filled with rocks and wildflowers is nothing more than an unproductive piece of land,” he said.

 

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 

 


The Natural History of the Maltese Islands – book review

December 11, 2011

 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Natural History of the Maltese Islands

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Bonett, G. (2011) The Natural History of the Maltese Islands – as seen through a photographer’s lens. 384 pp. Malta, BDL Ltd.

 

 

 

When we were young we used to pursue everything that moved, whether it was a reptile, a butterfly, a bird, a frog or tadpole, a beetle, sometimes even a flower or wild plant. This was perhaps the result of the educational system of our times, when we, as young children, were encouraged to collect such species during our weekend holidays and to bring them to the nature-table in class. I can remember tadpoles in glass jars, looking at their adult stages in adjacent glass jars, a stage they never reached. I can also remember pinned butterflies uselessly giving their last desperate wing beats, before giving up the ghost. Times have changed and such a change has also brought with it a change of mentality.

I remember Guido Bonett in his younger days, following with caution such wildlife with photographic equipment and binoculars. Guido was quick to keep pace with the latest technological changes which provide sophisticated equipment to better enable him to follow such wildlife. Change has enabled Guido to capture, not the living specimen, but photos, even of delicate and split-second moments in the life of species, moments which can only be captured, recorded, and filed through photographic equipment. Guido shot, and shot to his heart’s delight, with professionalism, ethics, and with satisfaction that, in his pursue, not a single specimen was endangered, injured, maimed or disturbed. The Natural History of the Maltese Islands – as seen through a photographer’s lens is an introduction to nature photography in the Maltese Islands. Guido reveals the wonder of nature in the Maltese Islands: whether it is a spider capturing a fly, a bird bringing food to its nestlings, a chameleon hunting insects, two fighting snakes, a hovering dragonfly, mating insects, intricate petals of flowers, close up of a number of flora and fauna showing details which are not easily observed and appreciated with the naked eye, or just a living species in a moment of its daily life. Guido’s book about the wonders and richness of the biodiversity of the Maltese Islands encompasses 59 explanatory photos in the introductory parts, and then a collection of photos which includes flora (92) dragonflies (19) grasshoppers (17) mantids (8) true bugs (17) lacewings (5) butterflies and moths (68) flies (17) bees, wasps and ants (21) beetles (23) spiders and scorpions (22), amphibians and reptiles (44), birds (72) and other wildlife (19) photos.

One of the many photos from Guido's book: The expression of love by two Lesser emperor Dragonflies

This publication has a preface by Dr L.F. Cassar, and Dr E. Conrad, from the Institute of Earth Systems of the University of Malta, a foreword by Louis Agius, the President of the Malta Photographic Society, and an Appreciation by Nick Camilleri, Managing Director of Avantech Ltd one of the main sponsors, followed by Guido’s appreciation note. All the species mentioned in the book are listed in an alphabetical English and Scientific index, and a list of further reading is also included.

As the author emphasises in the introductory part of the book: “The man in the street and even other photographers will be overlooking, stepping on and trampling without a second thought” on this rich natural heritage, while “The nature photographer sees beauty in subjects which others might find revolting, and this is one of the factors that make macrophotogrphy so fascinating.” But even in his pursuits of photographic natural living subjects, the author emphises the ethics to “take photos not lives, and leave nothing behind but footprints.”

Many may know Guido as a naturalist and a conservationist at heart. Guido has built on this reputation: he is today one of the leading professional nature photographers, for which, in 2005, he has been awarded an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain (ARPS), and in 2008 an Associateship of the Malta Photographic Society (AMPS). His knowledge and experience in the field, where, as a youngster he studied and met a number of species face to face, has enabled him to utilise this vast experience to produce professional natural history photographs, not just from a photographic point of view, but most important from a scientific aspect. His latest work, full of passion, besides the high photographic level, without any doubt contributes to the scientific, educational, and appreciation of the rich biodiversity of the Maltese Islands.

In the preamble of the book, Guido briefly explains the habitats of the Maltese Islands, where many of his subjects can be found. He gives advice on how to take better nature photographs, explains the photographic equipment necessary for such work, such as camera body, lenses, macro lenses, telephoto lenses, flash units, tripods, and monopods, tripod heads, cables releases and camera bags. Explanations are also included on how and when, or when not, to use a macro and/or a telephoto. Besides in the main part of the book, which is a collection of his nature photographs, he also gives the English and Scientific names of the subject, the status and some information on the species, indicating also whether it is an invasive species or indigenous one. Included under each photo, is a tip re its taking, a code number, information on shutter speed, aperture value, ISO value, focal length, and shooting mode used, such as aperture priority mode, shutter speed priority mode or manual mode used.

The great effort, dedication and sacrifice which went into the production of this book, both by Guido, the publisher, the sponsors, and the printer have all contributed to such a professional publication on the natural history of theMalteseIslands. This publication can definitely help to create a better positive appreciation of our unique natural heritage. It can help to further create and strengthen the national pride of our borrowed natural treasures. It can contribute to the better relationship between man and the ecosystem on which we are so much dependent. This book can also be useful to those who know all the species referred to in Guido’s book, because it shows the minute details which cannot be seen by the naked eye. Naturally, it is also a must for all those who are aware of the beauty and importance of biodiversity, because they can also get familiar with a number of species which can be appreciated with the naked eye and which most of the time, many go past without even realising it. One has to know what to expect to see before being able to look for it.

This book is a treasure in the hands of every citizen who loves theMalteseIslands. It shows the delicate, fragile, daily natural miracles of which we all form part, all of which have been lent to us by future generations. If only the educational entities of these islands understand the potential of this book, and direct that it is made use of, even by being used during the various prize giving ceremonies in schools, it will be a great service in the education of the young generation with regards to the better understanding and appreciation of our natural heritage.