The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Leave the trees alone!

Sunday, 19 November 2023, 07:11 Last update: about 17 days ago

Alexander Mangion

How is it that in 2023, we still need to defend the trees in our urban areas? How is it that in 2023, we still have to make the case for mature trees that literally supply us with the very oxygen that we need to breathe?

When you think you’ve seen it all, something a little bit more unbelievable happens, which leaves everyone flabbergasted. The ficus trees in Mosta Square aren’t the first mature trees that have been brutally chopped for some reason or other. We all remember the many trees that received the ugly end of the chainsaw in Attard, to make way for the central link bypasses. It was the iconic trees in Paola Square before that, and many others before them.


Every time, an entire nation is left in disbelief, as why would anyone want to destroy an amazing living thing, that provides oxygen to humans, shade from the sun, and a home to thousands of God’s creatures. Why would anyone want to replace a tree that has seen our community change and evolve in favour of a twig that may or may not survive? It was truly heart-wrenching to see hundreds of birds lost and with no place to rest, that evening.

It is understandable that our urban areas need a good spruce-up from time to time, and it is only fair that we upgrade our infrastructure according to the needs of our communities. However, it is unacceptable that our trees always end up taking the short end of the stick.

Aren’t we creative enough to come up with plans that integrate our age-old trees into our innovative designs? Can’t our architects and urban planners propose solutions that take the best of all worlds and bring them together in harmony?

I am convinced that this can be done, as in fact we need more trees in our urban areas, not fewer.

The environment is not the beautiful valleys beneath Rabat or the hills in Mellieha. The environment is every street, and alleyway and square in our towns and villages. We need to make sure that the places we live in and spend most time in, are as beautiful and conducive to a healthy lifestyle as possible.

I yearn for a Malta with more canopied streets in our urban areas, like the beautiful main street in Naxxar and Valley Road in Msida. Driving through these streets in Summer, it is immediately evident how cooler the temperature is under these trees. It is really very simple to understand why.

More and more people are living in densely populated areas – it is a phenomenon that is true the world over. We need to put our heads together how we can make our cities better.

So, I feel duty bound to thank people like Andre Callus and his colleagues from Graffitti who stood up to be counted and stopped the massacre. It was shameful for the police to arrest Mr Callus and man-handle him they way they did. It isn’t Mr Callus that the police should be arresting, but the real culprits behind the wholesale theft our country has been subjected to by a few.

Don’t the police have anything better to do than to arrest peaceful protesters who voice the concerns and emotions of thousands of Maltese people? I can think of many names of people they could be investigating and arresting. But it seems that if ever any proof was needed that our police is strong with the weak and weak with the strong, it was delivered to us clearly and simply, on a social media livestream this week.

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