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28 trees planted by Infrastructure Malta for every tree uprooted

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AMBIENTEThere have been many objections to the uprooting of mature trees around the island due to the countries several recent large-scale infrastructural projects with many arguing that Malta’s future generations will have to reap an increase in pollution due to the effect of the way in which the government is sowing its road projects.

However, whilst acknowledging that through some of their infrastructural projects, the uprooting of mature trees negatively impacts the environment in the short-term, Infrastructure Malta believe that overall, their projects result in a greater sustainable impact on the environment and are monitored by expert arborists together with the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA)

Some of the short term benefits of the IM projects are that the widening of roads and building new ones reduces traffic, and thus air and noise pollution, the introduction of safer facilities will encourage cleaner modes of transport (like cycling), and, more space is being created for a much larger amount of new trees and landscaping to be rooted when compared to what was originally in place before their works.

For example, the much contested on-going Central Link Project − comprising the upgrading of the arterial road network between Mriehel and Ta’ Qali − is not only set to considerably reduce air pollution in the surrounding residential areas and workplaces but, this project should add 212% more landscaped areas and at least 333 more trees than are there today.

Infrastructure Malta was established in 2018 to gradually implement the Government’s plan for the upgrading of the road network.

During the summer of 2019, IM kicked off a nationwide tree-planting programme. Since then, this agency has planted 31,417 trees and 19,723 shrubs in total, a spokesperson for the agency said.

By contrast, approximately 1,100 trees were uprooted due to Infrastructure Malta projects since 2019, many of which were not indigenous species, noted an IM spokesperson.

On the other hand, 568 transplantable trees were relocated to other nearby areas under the approval and guidance of expert arborists and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA).

These trees will be continually looked after by IM until experts confirm that the transplanting was successful.

Arborists and ERA determine whether a tree can be transplanted or not depending on the species and age of the trees in question. In the case of invasive, alien species that are not protected by law due to their age, transplanting is prohibited.

It is estimated that 28 trees for every tree uprooted are planted by IM due to its projects, which goes above and beyond the ERA’s minimum recommendations which will only further improve Malta’s air quality, stated an IM spokesperson.
 
In some cases, Infrastructure Malta is obliged to plant up to 20 trees for certain trees it uproots or transplants, once again depending on the species and age of the trees in question. Compensatory planting is required by law even when a tree is transplanted.

During the first seven months of 2021, Infrastructure Malta (IM) has planted 11,485 new trees in 20 different locations around the island during, a spokesperson for IM told this newsroom.

The agency has thus exceeded the total of 11,213 trees it planted in 93 different locations in the whole of last year (2020).

Since the beginning of this year IM has planted approximately 54 trees a day − almost double the average of 30 trees a day that were planted last year. Further plans to plant at least 1,650 trees in another ten locations by the end of the year are on-going.

This year, for the first time, new trees will also be planted in Gozo by IM. The agency thanks the Ministry of Gozo, as well as the many Gozitan residents who sent in appeals for enabling this project to be set into action.

Xewkija and Zebbug should thus see over 500 trees being planted in the upcoming months.

Some of the locations around the island that have had new trees planted are: It-Tempesta Road in Qrendi, Haz-Zabbar Road and Il-25 ta’ Novembru Road in Zejtun, Burmarrad Valley in St Paul’s Bay, several streets in Bugibba and St Pauls’ Bay, the area next to the Tas-Salib Chapel in Rabat and the St Ignatius College Secondary School in the Ħandaq area of Qormi.

The care for the newly planted trees − until they are established in their new environment − is carried out by IM contractors, who are in turn instructed by arborists and other environmental experts and authorities.

If any of the trees planted by IM are damaged, stolen, or do not survive replanting, IM guarantees that they will be replaced. In fact, since 2020 they stated that they have replaced over 1,000 trees that were stolen from different locations soon after they were planted.
The agency has therefore started installing security cameras in certain locations to prevent further theft or vandalism.

Independent experts who studied the long-term impacts of the Central-link Project on the area’s existing flora and fauna concluded that “once the newly planted trees establish themselves, the adverse impact [of removing existing trees] during construction phase will gradually phase out. Since there will be more trees than existing, the overall impact is expected to be beneficial in the medium to long term.” This review can be found in the Environmental Impact Assessment requested and approved by ERA as part of the planning and permitting of the project.

Thus, through its tree-planting project and other initiatives, Infrastructure Malta is ensuring that the unavoidable adverse impacts of developing better quality infrastructure are not only mitigated, but turned into new opportunities for a greener environment for future generations.

Individuals or organisations who would like to suggest public spaces that Infrastructure Malta’s arborists can consider for the planting of new trees are encouraged to send their ideas by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

 

 

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