The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Mosta Ficus trees subject to ‘vandalism’ after holes are drilled into them

Kyle Patrick Camilleri Thursday, 28 March 2024, 13:27 Last update: about 17 days ago

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Mosta Local Council have each issued statements stating that the holes found in main trunks and roots of a set of Ficus trees in Mosta, as well as “the pouring of an unknown liquid” into them, are unauthorised acts of vandalism.

The ERA is investigating this “unauthorised intervention” on the Ficus trees with the assistance of the Plant Health Directorate and have also requested police intervention.

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The Authority “is currently conducting sampling and laboratory analysis of the substance poured into the trees, a crucial step in attempting to determine the substance inflicted and any remedial intervention that may be required,” it stated.

The Mosta Local Council published a statement through its Facebook page and noted that it is “very concerned by this act of vandalism” which targeted the Ficus trees next to the locality’s square.

“The unnecessary attack on these trees is an attack against the fabric of our community, and we refuse to tolerate such actions,” the local council stated.

The Mosta Local Council categorically condemned this behaviour “in the strongest possible way.” The local council said it contacted the police and have requested a thorough investigation to be carried out to “identify and catch those responsible for this senseless act of vandalism.”

The ERA also condemned this act of vandalism, describing that it “can threaten the health and integrity of these trees.” The Authority stated that it has been following this situation alongside the Police “for a few days now” in an attempt to catch the perpetrator.

Referring to the initial controversy that arose with these same Ficus trees last November, the Mosta Local Council acknowledged the concern expressed by Moviment Graffitti and other members of its community, and stated that “where we may have made mistakes, we are correcting and learning.”

The local council also wrote that it can create a “safer and more sustainable environment for everyone” by collaborating with residents and organisations like Moviment Graffitti through the planting of trees in various areas of the locality.

 

“We don’t want anyone to hinder our work and our commitment to our locality,” the local council said.

These announcements came just hours after the non-governmental organisation Moviment Graffitti had raised concerns about the Ficus trees located in the Mosta square – the same ones that the NGO fought to keep them from being uprooted and relocated. Earlier this morning, the NGO issued a public statement across its social media platforms to write about the mysterious holes that appeared in the trunks of many of these beloved individual alien species, as well as the remnants that an unidentified liquid had been poured into the trees.

The NGO stated online that these holes have been appearing over “the last few weeks.”

Moviment Graffitti addressed authorities in their public statement and informed them that “caring for these trees, after the damage they did to them when they tried to remove them, is their full responsibility.” Aside from wishing to learn what the nature of these previously mysterious holes and the presently “unknown liquid” that was poured into them, the NGO had also asked whether there is a care plan in place to help these trees “recover from the damage done to them in November.”

Moviment Graffitti had requested for the Ministry for the Environment, the ERA, and the Mosta Local Council to issue public statements on these developments earlier this morning.

Nationalist MP Rebekah Borg reportedly checked these holes herself on Wednesday and sought advice on what could be the cause, as she wrote on her Facebook page earlier this morning before the nature of these findings was confirmed to be an unnatural act of vandalism by the authorities.

Borg acknowledged that “they are definitely not growing as they should.” Moviment Graffitti was also informed by experts that the trees are not growing as many branches as they should be for this time of year. Borg had written that she shall be contacting the CEO of the ERA today on this issue.

This is not the first time that mature Ficus trees have allegedly been poisoned. On this exact day 11 years ago, Times of Malta reported that three mature Ficus trees previously located at the top of Labour Avenue, Naxxar, had all died after having being poisoned, according to an expert. The trees were 50 years old. At the time, the NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar had “regretted that this was not an isolated case.”

The Mosta Local Council said it will “work tirelessly to ensure that Mosta remains a vibrant and healthy community for generations to come.” It said to “reaffirm its dedication to preserve our green spaces and condemn vandalism in all its forms.”

 

ERA are urging for anyone with information that may help this investigation to step forward to identify the responsible perpetrators. “Confidentiality to all informants is assured,” it added. Individuals may report any information to ERA anonymously by phoning the Authority on 22923500 or by contacting them through their online portal: https://cc-eris.eraportal.org.mt/submit-case

 

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