L-GĦARGĦAR: is-sigra nazzjonali

November 16, 2015

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2015

L-GĦARGĦAR: is-sigra nazzjonali

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Is-siġra tal-għargħar darba kienet komuni ħafna fil-gżejjer Maltin. Din kienet tiksi wesgħat kbar f’Birkirkara u fl-inħawi ta’ madwarha. Hemm inħawi li huma maħsuba li kienu msemmijin għal din is-siġra, bħal San Ġwann tal-Għargħar u Ħal-Għarghur. Iżda hawn minn jgħid li l-Għargħur, kif jixhdu mappi qodma, hu mnissel mill-isem Girgor. Mhux dokumentat li din is-siġra kienet tikber fis-selvaġġ la f’Għawdex u lanqas f’Kemmuna, għalkemm illum jinstabu xi siġar żgħar li ġew imħawwla mill-bniedem f’dawn iż-­żewġ gżejjer.

1 - Siġra tal-għargħar li tinstab San Anton

 Waħda miż-żewġ siġriet tal-għargħar li jikbru f’San Anton

L-għargħar hija siġra mill-­familja taċ-ċipress. Din ma tinstabx biss fil-gżejjer Maltin, għax fl­-Ewropa tikber f’roqgħa żgħira fix­-xlokk ta’ Spanja viċin Kartagena, fir-­reġjun ta’ Mursja. Hemm indikazzjonijiet li fl-imgħoddi din is-sigra kienet aktar komuni fl-Ewropa u nqerdet għalkollox ħlief f’dik ir­-roqgħa fi Spanja u fil-gżejjer Maltin. Dan jirriżulta minn numru ta’ fossili ta’ din is-sigra li nstabu fi Franza.

Illum hija aktar komuni u mifruxa fil-Magreb, bħal fil-Marokk fuq il-kosta tal-Atlantiku, fl-Algerija u f’Tunes. Mhemmx provi li din is-sigra tikber fil-Libja għalkemm huwa rrappurtat li din tikber hemm ukoll.

Fil-gżejjer Maltin illum hija meqjusa bħala siġra rari ħafna u tikber fis-selvaġġ f’xi ħames postijiet, fosthom l-aktar magħrufa huma fil­-Maqluba, viċin il-Qrendi fejn hemm xi tliet siġriet, fl-inhawi tal­-Mellieħa, il-Mosta, u fl-Imġiebah viċin Selmun. F’uħud minn dawn l-inħawi tikber siġra waħda biss.

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Il-prinjoli tal-għargħar għadhom ma sarux.

Oħrajn kienu jikbru f’Wied Filep, li kien fergħa minn Wied il-Għasel. Dawn inqerdu minn barriera tal-­qawwi li ħadet il-blat kollu għaż-żrar. Hemm għargħar oħra li ġew imħawla mill-bniedem. Fost dawn insibu tnejn fil-ġonna ta’ San Anton u oħra fil-ġonna privati tal-President ta’ Malta.

Huwa maħsub li dawn tkabbru minn żerriegħa li ttieħdet mis-siġar tal­-Maqluba. Siġar oħra nsibuhom il-­Mall u l-Argotti fil-Furjana, tnejn fil­-ġnien San Filep, biswit l-Argotti, tnejn iżgħar oħra fil-Ġnien tal-Milorda Sa Maison, tlieta oħra fil-Buskett, daqs nofs tużżana oħra fil-ġonna tal-Università f’tal-Qroqq, u waħda l-Marsa.

Is-siġra tal-għargħar tħaddar is-sena kollha u tiflaħ għan-nixfa. Hija tikber fil-makkja tal-Mediterran, għalkemm ġieli tikber fi xquq fil-blat u f’wesgħat bi blat b’pendil. Din tilħaq għoli ta’ madwar 15-il metru, fuq zokk kanella ħamrani, u togħla għall-ponta għalkemm mifruxa fil-­baxx.

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Il-weraq tas-siġra tal-għargħar.

Meta jkunu għadhom qed jifformaw iz-zkuk ewlenin li fuqhom is-siġra tal-għargħar tkun mibnija, dawn ikunu mgħottija bil-weraq. Il-weraq ta’ din is-siġra huma rqaq bħal tal-koniferi l­-oħra, twal bejn  1 mm sa 8 mm u wesgħin minn madwar 1 mm sa 1.5 mm. Huma għandhom leħħa fl-ikħal. L-aktar friegħi żgħar ikunu ċatti. Il-­weraq huma żgħar u ċatti u jikbru f’pari imsallbin fuq xulxin, aktar qrib xulxin lejn il-ponta tal-magħseb, qishom bukkett ta’ erba’ madwar il-­magħseb. Il­-friegħi ċatti u fini jkunu miksija b’dan il­-weraq li jkollhom qisa għatja ta’ qxur, l-­iżjed minn fejn jaqbdu mal­-magħseb.

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Il-prinjoli tas-siġra tal-għargħar miftuħa meta ż-żerriegħa tkun taret.

Għall-ħabta ta’ Novembru u Diċembru, xi minn daqqiet ukoll qabel, jibda jidher il-weraq speċjalizzat. Dan ikun weraq raġel jew weraq mara, iżda t-tnejn li huma jikbru fuq l-istess siġra. Ġo dan il-weraq speċjalizzat raġel ikun hemm l-għabra tad-dakra. Dawn ifarfru din l-għabra tad-dakkra għall-habta ta’ Settembru sa Diċembru, u b’hekk idakkru l-weraq speċjalizzati nisa li jifformaw il-frott li jissejjah prinjol. Kull frotta tas-siġra tal-għargħar tkun għaliha, waħda fit-tarf tal-ponot tal-friegħi. Din il-prinjol żgħir ikun tond u bejn 8 sa 12-il millimetru u jkun mibni minn erbat iqxur trijangulari tal-­injam. lż-żerriegħa li tkun ġo fih għandha par ġwienah wesgħin, qishom tal-karta, biex ikunu jistgħu jitferrxu bir-riħ bla tbatija.

Mis-siġra tal-għargħar toħroġ qisa gomma li bl-Ingliż tissejjah sandarac gum. Huwa għalhekk li wieħed mill-ismijiet tas-siġra bl’Ingliż huwa sandarac gum tree, għalkemm l-ismijiet l-aktar użati bl-­Ingliż huma arar tree jew alerce. Il­-kelma għargħar ġejja mill-­isem Għarbi tas-­siġra, araar.

Din il-gomma għandha numru ta’ użi fl-industrija. Jingħad ukoll li tintuża kontra t-taħsir tas-snin billi tingħorok fuqhom. Ġieli ntużat ukoll minflok il-balzmu tal-Kanada fil-tħejjija ta’ ħġieġ għall-mikroskopju.

L-injam tal­-għargħar bl-ingliż jissejjah citron wood u għalhekk xi mindaqqiet din is-siġra bl-Ingliż tissejjah ukoll citron wood tree. Il-kelma citron ġejja mit-Taljan citro jew aktarx cedro. Dan l-injam huwa mfittex ħafna għal xogħol fin fl-injam.

Ir-Rumani kienu jfittxu ħafna dan l-injam biex jużawh bħala materjal għall-bini.

Bħas-siġar koniferi oħra, l-għargħar tiflaħ ħafna għan-nixfa, kif ukoll kapaċi tikber qrib ix-xatt għax tiflaħ ukoll għal ammont ta’ melħ. Dan jagħmilha siġra adattata ħafna biex biha nħaddru wesgħat b’pendil fil-blat li għandna fil-gżejjer Maltin.

Minkejja li l-għargħar tinħaraq mill-ewwel, ma tinqeridx malajr għax wara l-ħruq dlonk terġa’ ttella’ friegħi oħra minn taħt l-art.

Fis-16 ta’ Jannar tal-1992 l­-għargħar ġiet iddikjarata s-siġra nazzjonali. Ġiet imħarsa bil-liġi b’Avviż Legali Numru 49 tal-1993. Hija wkoll meqjusa bħala siġra mhedda u b’firxa żgħira fil-gżejjer Maltin, imniżżla wkoll fil-ktieb l-aħmar tal-gżejjer Maltin (Red Data Book) bħala siġra mhedda u li għandha firxa żgħira fil-Mediterran.

L-għargħar hija waħda mis-siġar imniżżla fi skeda I tar-regolamenti tal-ħarsien tas-siġar u l-imsaġar li ġew ippubblikati f’Avviżi Legali 200 tal-24 ta’ Mejju, 2011.

Minħabba li s-­siġra tal­-għargħar mhix komuni, u hekk l-­ambjent naturali tagħha ma għandux stat ta’ ħarsien tajjeb, kif ukoll il-­firxa tagħha hija dejqa, dan it-­tip ta’ ambjent huwa meqjus bħala ambjent ta’ priorità mill­-Unjoni Ewropea. Dan wassal biex fejn hemm siġar tal­-għargħar jikbru fis-selvaġġ fil-­gżejjer Maltin, dawn ġew dikjarati bħala Żoni Speċjali ta’ Konservazzjoni.

Hija mnissla wkoll fil-lista tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa li jinkludu pjanti rari, mhedda, u endemiċi tal-Ewropa. Hija tidher ukoll bħala siġra mhedda, fil-lista ppublikata fl-1997 mill-Għaqda Internazzjonali tal-Ħarsien tan-Natura (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

L-għargħar hija siġra li tista’ ssebbah ’il-pajjiina, kemm bi msaġar li hija tista’ tinseġ, kif ukoll bil­-preżenza tagħha fl-irħula u l-ibliet tagħna. Hija siġra maħluqa għall-klima Mediterranja, kif ukoll għall-karatteristiċi tal-ambjent Malti.

Minn mindu ġiet magħrufa bħala s­-siġra nazzjonali, bdiet titħawwel f’numru ta’ postijiet oħra, l-­aktar fl­-iskejjel, u llum hija mferrxa mhux ħażin. Numru minn din is-siġra ġew imħawwla f’Wied Għollieqa. Wieħed jieħu gost jara li qed tintuża aktar u titħawwel aktar biex issebbaħ ’il-pajjiżna. Hija ħafna faċli li titnissel minn żerriegħa meħuda minn siġar Maltin kif jafu sewwa t-tfal tal-iskola, anki dawk primarji, li jkabbruha kull sena.

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Iż-żerriegħa tal-għargħar li tkun moħbija fil-prinjoli.

L-għargħar mhix siġra diffiċli biex titnissel, Iż-żerriegħa tinstab fil-prinjoli żgħar li għandhom jiġu miġbura matul Settembru sa kmieni f’Ottubru. Meta ż-­żerriegħa tinħareġ mill­-prinjol għandha titqiegħed fix-xemx għal xi ġimgħatejn. Iż-żerriegħa għandha tinżera f’Marzu f’ħamrija li tkun imqalba tajjeb biex fiha tiġbor l-arja. Iż-żerriegħa tħobb postijiet niexfa. Metodu li jgħin fit-tnissil tas-siġra tal-għargħar hija li l-borża li fiha tkun miżrugha titqiegħed kemmxejn fuq ġenbha biex b’hekk tgħin ħalli l-ilma joskula ’l barra.

Sfortunatament, dawk li jaraw biss qligħ kummerċjali, jimpurtaw din is-siġra minn barra minn Malta, kif wieħed jista’ jara’ fit-triq Diċembru 13. Minbarra li dawn is-siġar jistgħu jdaħħlu magħhom mard u speċi oħra barranin li jagħmlu ħsara lill-ambejnt Malti, kif fil-fatt ġara meta ġew importati xi siġar oħra, siġar tal-għarghar importati jniġġsu l-għaġna ġenetika tal-popolazzjoni tas-siġra tal-għargħar Maltija.

Hemm ħafna aktar bżonn ta’ tagħrif u edukazzjoni biex l-apprezzament tas-siġar jiżdied.

Isem Malti: Għargħar

Isem Ingliż: Sandarac Gum Tree

Isem xjentifiku: Tetraclinis articulata

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

 


Green dream and black nightmare

August 10, 2012

Friday,  August 10, 2012

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Green dream and black nightmare

During his short term responsible for the environment, both as junior minister and later, as minister, Mario de Marco has published a number of laws and policies.

Some he moved through Parliament, such as the National Environment Policy (NEP) and the Sustainable Development Act. Other guidelines and policies were published by his environmental watchdog, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.

These included the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and the new guidelines for the management of invasive plants. These supplemented the guidelines on trees, shrubs and plants for planting and landscaping and the tree protection regulations.

The above are some of the Government’s publications: all official administrative and legislative tools which can definitely make any green dream a reality. But why are they ignored by Government itself? I cannot image that these have been published just for the attention of  the EU and its Member States. Or that these publications are meant to take the public for a ride? Then why are these ignored and not enforced?

Unfortunately, the enforcement and implementation of these laws and regulations leave much to be desired.

The three pillars for conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services as defined in the NEP are all addressed in the above. These provide direction to all players in this field, ensure policy integration and enable stakeholders to work in a coordinated manner to achieve the national objectives and key priorities.

All aim at improving the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity as well as easing pressures on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use.

Furthermore, these guidelines and regulations highlight the collaboration and commitment of all relevant stakeholders to achieve the strategic goals of the NEP and to empower people to actively participate in environmental management and take action on environmental issues.

An important policy in the NEP is that the government, in promoting environmentally-friendly actions, should lead by example.

Definitely not according to the guidelines and regulations referred to above!

Notwithstanding the above, the wave of criticism on the mismanagement of trees and the misuse of public funds in “landscaping” is gaining momentum.

Facebook groups have been set up, initiatives promoting the protection of trees have been taken and articles and letters in the press express the disappointment of such mismanagement. Yet, the government, through one, or at best, two of its ministers, still bulldozes on, irrespective of the people’s comments, criticism and suggestions. If, before the last election, the Prime Minster did not declare that the environment was one of the government’s three main pillars and if he did not lately say that he was ready to listen to the people in the national interest (even in the kitchen, if necessary, as I am told) one could comfortably say that the government does not have any special interest in the environment.

But, the way environment is being mismanaged makes one conclude that there is no such real interest and no such will. The social and ecological values are completely gobbled up by commercial interests with political blessing.

The Times (September 6, 2011) titled a report on the launching of the national environment policy thus: PM Launches Green Dream. There are many, many in this country who have such a green dream. Great things were conceived as little dreams. If Martin Luther King did not have a dream and persisted with determination there would not be a Barack Obama today. But to achieve a dream, one has to persist with determination in one’s vision and not ignore, or endorse, activities that are diametrically opposite to it.

The latest “landscaping projects” financed by the government are those of Mdina ditch, where about 400 trees were uprooted, surprisingly to make way for a garden. Trees at the Mellieħa old bus-terminus were all uprooted for others to be planted instead. Lately, the destruction of trees in part of Triq Diċembru 13, Marsa, hit the headlines. Some of the trees were removed on grounds that they are invasive!

Surprisingly, at the same time, another minister is endorsing plans and funds for the planting of Fountain Grass, Brazilian pepper tree, the Australian Pine tree (Casuarina) and the Hottentot fig – all aliens and invasive species.

Once again, the BSS (Bisazza Street Syndrome, which was conceived in Bisazza Street, Sliema) is again raising its ugly head with the same political players, leaving the Minster for the Environment speechless.

BSS did strike again with regard to the Rabat Road rubble walls (which now have been replaced by iron railings against all policies and regulations – Mepa please note). Now, BSS has infected the government’s so-called landscaping projects, defying, ignoring and ridiculing the above national regulations and policies, suppressing and pushing aside all active participation of the people.

What is very worrying is the fact that such “landscaping” is being done with public funds, some even with EU funds. And some are also completely against mitigation strategies regarding the government’s stand on climate change and water policy, which, incidentally, fall within the same ministerial portfolio.

The Prime Minister may have an admirable green dream. The majority of the people yearn for the fulfilment of such a conceived green dream. But, the government’s plans and projects are rendering the Prime Minister’s green dream a bizarre black nightmare, a nightmare that will haunt the political players all their lives and beyond. Not that anybody of them cares, I presume! But can the Prime Minister please intervene to achieve his and our collective green dream?

aebaldacchino@gmail.com

PS  – Photos were added to this post and do not appear in the original article in The Times

See also:

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/once-there-were-green-leaves/

https://alfredbaldacchino.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/environmentalists-vs-government-over-trees/


GOVERNMENT POLICY ON TREES!

February 27, 2012

GOVERNMENT POLICY ON TREES!

February 27, 2012

Alfred E. Baldacchino

By now those who love nature and  trees should be aware what the Government Policy. on trees in the Maltese Islands. is. All the established trees are in danger of being hacked to a  pitiful state, whether in urban areas,  in public gardens and protected areas.  I will list some areas and leave readers to add to them: Valletta (Bus terminus), Zebbug (Vjal il-Helsien – certianly not for the trees), It-Tokk Gozo, and the Road leading from Xewkija to Rabat in Gozo; Balzan, Mellieha, Fgura and Luqa. Trees at San Anton Gardens do not escape the massacre either, as those which have been planted by the late internationally renowned  Prof John Borg, who used to plant indigenous trees in this garden,  such as the Sandarac Gum Tree (Sigra tal-Gharghar), the Mastic Tree (Deru) and the rare and only specimen of Christ Thorn (Sigra tal-Kuruna).  The latter two have been butchered and some completely cut down to the ground.

The remains of the indigenous Mastic Tree (Deru) at San Anton Gardens

The strictly protected rare Christ Thorn (Xewk tal- Kuruna) Tree at San Anton Gardens – butchered

Natura 2000 sites, which have been declared for their ecological importance and accepted by the EU, did not escape the massacre either, as the remains of this Ash tree shows.

It had to be a ‘Gakbin’ to stop this Government massace at Buskett – an EU Natura 2000 site.

Now this Government Policy –  towards which 7 million Euros were voted each year for five years, to help with landscaping – plants new established trees from overseas. Amongst others, these  include Palm trees (some had Red Palm Weevil too, remember, although one must admit that they too were  accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate which was supposed to confirm that they were free of disease and other organisms) and other exotic trees – naturally at a price and at a profit, paid from public funds. Such policy also involved the importing and planting of some trees, which after some years  were uprooted (like those near the War memorial in Floriana). Is there somebody who is finding money growing on trees?

Initiative by Moviment Graffiti placing tomb-stones against butchred trees. Any other ideas?

If one follows the history of tree protection inMalta, urban trees were protected and needed a permit from the Department of Agriculture for their uprooting or pruning (LN 12 of 2001).  Not that what is now left of the once glorious Department of Agriculture has ever objected to uprooting or butchering of any tree. And now the trees growing in urban areas are up for grabs: anybody can saw them off, mutilate them , uproot them, kill them, you name it, it can be done without any permit, without any condition, without any guilty feelings. And though the Agriculture Department is responsible for the protection of trees and also for landscaping, it seems that there is no accountability anywhere. Government replaces these trees with imported exotics. Somebody mentioned the 34U campaign! I cannot understand for whom the ‘U’ stands! The majority of the trees being planted, are all imported. But Government has a clean conscience,  like Pontius Pilate, because it says that it is not importing any trees but buys them  from the local market. Intelligent eh! First somebody imports them and then Government buys them and pays for them from public funds! Somebody must be spending a lot of time with primary school children.

Not only are urban trees decimated, but also those in Natura 2000 sites do not escape such policy.  Remember Buskett.  Go and have a look at the pitiful state of this Natura 2000 site. It has to be a ‘Gakbin’ to stop the rape of such a Natura 2000 site and avoid repercussions of such a dilettante’s activities which could have lead to EU repercussions.

But one has also to remember that this Government’s Tree Policy, is in line with the Government environmental pillar (now dead and buried) and also with the political dictum that Government should not be judged by what it says but by what it does.  A look at the massacre of trees shows  a clear picture emerging showing  what Government is doing towards the protection and care of the environment.  Something that Government should have done long ago is to appoint a minister for landscaping, someone who has a vision and understanding, who hears AND listens, someone who is capable to accept the fact that he does not know anything about the subject and accepts advice.  Government should appoint a Minister, who besides the economic aspects of such ‘landscaping’, should also be able to understand the social and ecological negative impacts such activities are having. Government may be hearing but it never listens, as the massacre of trees show.

There have been NGOs and private individuals voicing their concern on such insensitive treatment of trees. It seems that the economic aspect of such massacre is too strong to take in consideration any social and ecological negative impacts. Now it seems that an unofficial Government spokesman has also enlightened the general public that trees move from place to place according to the needs of the day.  I can now understand why there are so many accidents of vehicles colliding with trees: the driver may not be aware that there are  moving rtrees crossing the road! Perhaps the Minister responsible for transport can issue new traffic signs to inform drivers of crossing trees. Pathetic! Trees move from place to pace only when there is no planning, if planning means anything to anybody these days.

I am attaching some photos of the result of such commercial activity undertaken by Government and paid out of public funds. The people and future generations will definitely remember who was responsible for such a waste of resources, such a waste of their money, and such an onslaught and insensitive treatment of the social and ecological environment.  No wonder that the Government is now  saying that it needs to be closer to the people to hear their complaints after the mess some of his ministers have landed him into.

As an addendum with regards to the three photos attached below, wouldn’t it be a good idea to choose one of these,  make a miniature trophy of it, and  present it to  Government, whether present or future, so that it can be ceremoniously given to the Minister whose decisions, ideas, stubbornness and policies have been the most damaging to the environment?  This used to be organised in the past by some NGO, but unfortunately not any more these days!

And if you had to have your choice, which one of the photos would you chose? And to which Minister would you recommend that it should be given?

Take your pick from one of these:

1.    Social and ecological damage through insensitive importation of trees – the work of the Red Palm Weevil

2.   A work of art by the hands of man

3.   A work of art by the Creator, adulterated by crass ignorance of man