The Malta Independent 18 August 2017, Friday

Environment and Resources Authority protects rare, endangered trees in 30 areas

Monday, 27 March 2017, 17:08 Last update: about 6 months ago

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), as part of its commitment to set up inventories of important trees and woodlands in Malta, has designated 30 additional Tree Protection Areas (TPAs) to protect and conserve important sites that harbour rare and endangered trees. In Malta there are approximately 60 native tree species of which 66% are rare or endangered. Through the declaration of these TPAs, these trees and woodlands are being given the well-deserved protection for our and future generations. The total number of TPAs over Malta, Gozo and Comino is now 60. 23 of these TPAs are in Malta and 7 are in Gozo.

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Some of the areas protect individual trees and groups of trees of value, such as the old olive trees in Ħal-Lija, as well as other areas to ensure the protection of rare and threatened trees which have a restricted native distribution in Malta, such as the dwarf fan palm at Tal-Merħla and the mock privet at Ta’ Xuxa in the Buskett area. Species which are not native, but have other relevant important considerations are also included, such as the ficus tree, which is a landmark in the area known as ‘It-Tliet Siġriet’ in Tas-Sliema. Trees within a TPA are protected from activities and operations that may have an adverse impact on them, such as development.

Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change Jose Herrera stated that the launch of new Tree Protection areas is a very important step for Malta. The launch took place few days following the International Day of Forests. He said that with these initiatives the government is sending a strong message in favour of the environment whilst mitigating the impact on the environment made over time.

“Trees are an important natural resource for both ecological and environmental values and even economically. In Malta, trees are a limited characteristic but valuable for our landscape. This is one of the many reasons why we are doing our best to preserve them,” stated Minister Herrera.

In fact, it is correct to state that trees are one of the most important components of biological diversity in the natural, rural and urban environments. They not only have an intrinsic value for society but are also of scientific, historical and educational value. They’re crucial in creating a purer air system, since together with other plants they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Trees also provide us with essential life supporting services which are often taken for granted, such as natural climate regulation, soil stabilisation and storm water control. Trees can also serve as a safe haven for birds, as well as shelter populations of insects and other animals. In the urban environment, trees

offer shade and shelter, whilst increasing the aesthetic value of built-up areas and contribute to the character of a village or town, especially in the case of ancient trees.

For further information contact ERA on info@era.org.mt or on 2292 3500.

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