The Malta Independent 9 December 2019, Monday

Tree destruction: Government’s problem is not going to disappear any time soon – FAA

Monday, 12 August 2019, 15:18 Last update: about 5 months ago

The destruction of Rabat trees has struck a nerve and has served as the straw that breaks the camel’s back, according to FAA co-founder Astrid Vella, who warned that the government’s problem “is not going to disappear any time soon.”

The Malta Independent on Sunday last week spoke to expert arborist and international lecturer on forestry Ian Lansley, who said warned that politicians “are going to destroy Malta.”

Lansley acted as a consultant to the government on several projects but now says they have neglected to heed his advice and considers the situation an “absolute nightmare.

In fact, he would not say which projects he was consulted on.

Mr Lansley has been to Malta to deliver a series of lectures about the care of and benefits of trees in Malta, organised by Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar. 

Speaking to this newsroom, Astrid Vella said Lansley has strong family connections to Malta and after seeing the results of savage pruning in Malta, he had kindly approached FAA to give talks on correct tree management.

“As a result of these talks, Mr Lansley was engaged on several tree projects where he went out of his way to not only carry out the work involved but also to instruct employees in pruning and transplanting trees.”

“Mr Lansley had also offered to organise tree care courses for those employed in the maintenance of public trees, as well as to train qualified tree pruners in order to begin a certification process, rather than leaving tree pruning in the hands of cowboys armed with chainsaws.  Meetings were held to discuss this but unfortunately the offer was ignored,” Vella said.

“The fact that Mr Lansley does not want to name or be associated with these projects is a sad reflection of the poor after-care and maintenance of the trees involved, in spite of the detailed hand-over that was provided. This confirms FAA’s point that Transport Malta’s claims on the transplanting of trees uprooted in the Centre Link project ring hollow, in view of the poor survival rates of transplanted trees in Malta.”

When Ian Lansley first expressed his concern about trees in Malta, the focus was ‘only’ poor pruning. With the uprooting of almost 1,000 trees and bushes between Sta Lucia and Rabat, the situation is dire, many times worse, Vella added. “No wonder Mr Lansley has said the politicians are going to destroy your island” and refuses to have anything more to do with the local authorities.”

 On the other hand, Ian Lansley’s visits and talks did serve the purpose of sensitising many Maltese to the importance of and benefits of trees, she added.

“They are now at the forefront of the battle to save Malta’s trees, exasperated by the wholesale damage being caused to Malta’s environment under this Government.  The authorities have taken the public for granted, thinking, in the Prime Minister’s immortal words, that they will make a little fuss, then forget “Il-poplu jidra kollox”.  Only this time, the destruction of the Rabat trees has struck a nerve, they are the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Judging by the second protest being organised, Government’s problem is not going to disappear any time soon.”

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