Infrastructure Malta has pledged to plant 1,000 indigenous trees as compensation for the removal of at least 40 protected trees, which were uprooted as part of a road-widening project.

Heavy machinery was used on the trees in the street on Friday, with some uprooted completely and others heavily pruned, with the hope that they could be replanted elsewhere. However, botanical experts said there was very little chance for them to survive the relocation ordeal.

The widening of Triq il-Buqana, the distributor road linking Mtarfa to Mosta and Mġarr, began last month and is expected to take 30 weeks to complete.

The project is meant to alleviate traffic at the Mtarfa/Ta’ Qali roundabout, with the addition of a bypass lane.

Trees will be relocated where possible and new ones will be planted to make up for the loss

This extra lane will link the Mtarfa bypass to a new northbound lane on Triq il-Buqana. An additional 1.8-kilometre cycle track will also be created in the process.

Almost 10,000 square metres of agricultural land has been reclaimed for the €3.6 million project, which will see the uprooting of some 40 trees, mostly protected and indigenous.

According to Infrastructure Malta, trees will be relocated where possible and new ones will be planted to make up for the loss of those that cannot be replanted.

When contacted by the Times of Malta yesterday, a spokesman said that as environmental compensation for the trees that need to be uprooted to make way for the new lane and segregated cycle lane at Triq il-Buqana, Infrastructure Malta was requested to plant around 1,000 indigenous trees.

The uprooted trees in Triq il-Buqana yesterday.The uprooted trees in Triq il-Buqana yesterday.

These trees will be planted by Infrastructure Malta, or by other environmental entities, at the agency’s expense, the spokesman said.

Had Infrastructure Malta opted not to uproot the row of trees, it would have required an additional 1,155 square metres of agricultural land so the environmental watchdog said it was better to uproot.

Another lane joining the Buqana northbound lane to the Mġarr bypass will alleviate traffic at the Mosta/Mġarr roundabout, while the work will also see the reconstruction and widening of the Chadwick Lakes’ bridge.

Meanwhile, both roundabouts at the two ends of this stretch of road will be rebuilt and realigned, to increase capacity and reduce accident risks.