The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Government nearing agreement to import mature trees from Turkey and Greece

Albert Galea Monday, 16 September 2019, 14:31 Last update: about 30 days ago

The government is close to reaching an agreement for the importation of mature trees from Turkey and Greece which will be planted in various afforestation projects that the government is undertaking.

Speaking at Gnien il-Meditterran in Paola on Monday, Environment Minister Jose Herrera said that traditionally trees were cultivated by the government's own nursery so to protect the genetic profile of the Maltese tree, but noted that there was the need for more mature trees to be planted. This is so that the benefits of the trees are taken sooner, and so further beauty can be added to areas.

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He said that his aim as Environment Minister was to double the amount of trees that were being planted each year. He said that in his first year, 8,000 trees had been planted, and that in his second year (last year), another 15,000 were planted.  By the end of this year, he said, another 45,000 trees will have been planted - a record amount for the country in a year.

Indeed 13,000 of those trees and shrubs will be planted in Gnien il-Meditterran.  Previously known as Gnien Gaddafi, owing to the fact that the infamous Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had planted a tree there - which is still standing - on a visit to Malta in 1973, the garden will be receiving a full makeover under the watchful eye of Ambjent Malta.

The garden is made up of 30 tumoli of land, making it one of the largest in the south of the island, and, as Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government and Communities Silvio Parnis explained, had fallen into disrepair in recent years.

Parnis said that the few people who used to frequent the garden did so with the intention of drug abuse.  Rehabilitating the garden will be tough given that a number of trees had died due to a complete lack of irrigation, but he said that he expressed satisfaction at the ongoing works - 700 trees have in fact already been planted - and said that the next step was to attract people to the garden. 

He said that the garden would be accessible from four points as opposed to one, and hoped that it would serve as a recreational space for students studying at the nearby MCAST campus.

He said that lighting will be implemented as part of the project, while an automatic irrigation system will also be implemented so that watering of the trees is done properly.

Herrera meanwhile also spoke of other initiatives which are in the pipeline, saying that there should be incentives for private property owners to grow trees, gardening schemes in tandem with NGOs and the private sector where they would take care of a specific site in partnership with the government, and that a number of memorandum of understandings are about to be signed so to green up urban and industrial areas.


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