The following is an extended version of a Facebook post we published on 17/09/2019. 

Following reports regarding Ambjent Malta and Jose Herrera’s afforestation projects, ACT would like to raise some points on the trees being imported from Turkey and Greece.

While we welcome the government’s commitment to deliver on more green infrastructure, this initiative falls short of satisfying environmental and sustainable values. The attempt comes across as being shortsighted in its purpose to tame public uproar regarding native trees being uprooted and replanted. Although the importation of ‘mature trees’ will indeed make urban areas more attractive for a while, in actual fact, the importation goes against basic environmental considerations and will continue to be an issue in the long-term.  

These points are universal when considering the translocation of ‘mature’ trees. The below are not assumptions, but basic facts: 

  1. Mature trees’ means trees that have adapted to their place of maturity (i.e. where they have grown and developed). It’s very hard for mature trees to adapt when transplanted. It can take several years for transplanted mature trees to establish a normal root system in a new environment, stunting their growth and affecting their health.

     

  2. Imported ‘mature trees’ need to adapt to the island’s soil, climate and fungi. They take much longer than saplings to establish themselves.
     
  3. Importing trees increases the risk of importing alien pests and diseases that the Maltese islands are not equipped to deal with.

     

  4. Importing ‘mature’ trees is financially and environmentally costly. They need to be bought, possibly uprooted, transported and replanted all at steep prices. Plus, there’s a significant carbon footprint that comes with transportation.

     

  5. Given that they have been translocated from another country, they will necessitate more attention, maintenance and care than native trees which have adapted to the Maltese climate and environment. Again, this increases costs.

     

  6. Importing trees will result in increased cross-pollination to the detriment on the native gene, meaning native Maltese trees will slowly be corrupted by the imported species planted in close vicinity to them. 

This strategy will not ensure reliance, but rather promote dependency on human resources, water resources, and more.

Native trees and shrubs have unique genetic attributes and are limited only to these islands. Local trees are used to nourish Malta’s soil, fungi and climate, given the right care in the first years of plantation they can ensure the resilience we need to face climate change.

Malta is losing its native gene. We need to allow for these Maltese species to progress not only for the sake of increasing numbers but for the purpose of a holistic habitat approach.

Now more than ever we can assist in the proper rehabilitation of the Maltese islands. This is only possible through a pragmatic strategy that incorporates ecological considerations.

ACT and SAĠĠAR are ready to collaborate with government to provide the necessary native saplings, and thus limit costs, the carbon footprint and the ecological damage that such a practice will cause. 

Let’s work together for a sustainable Malta!