Twelve environment NGOs are concerned by the use of concrete in various country pathways in various localities in Malta and Gozo.
In a statement, they said the works were destroying the habitat for various species of flora and fauna including protected species and pollinators such as the honey bees. The ongoing destruction of this vegetation could have an impact on honey production and the pollination of agricultural crops in Malta.
The construction methods used to upgrade these country pathways went against the water conservation measures already in place. The end result would facilitate water runoff and could lead to flooding and soil sealing to the detriment of the agriculture sector and other users of the Maltese countryside.
While the NGOs understood that some upgrades were necessary, they demanded that any upgrading works of the rural roads network was carried out according to established policies, laws and in consultation with relevant authorities.
It was evident that in the ongoing works the planning process was being completely ignored. Many of the rural roads were being developed to an extent and with materials which did not respect the rural character, did not prevent water runoff, and had little to no measures of water collection.
The Maltese rural setting was normally characterised with paths flanked by rubble walls and having flora growing on the sides and in the middle. The latter green infrastructure contributed substantially to the agricultural sector by supporting a variety of essential species of fauna including by providing foraging for pollinators which will eventually pollinate the cultivated crops. The presence of the side vegetation protected from soil erosion.
The removal of the vegetation, which often slowed down traffic, would encourage faster vehicular flows in areas that up to now had been favoured by those visiting the area on foot and on bicycles.
The NGOs urged all the relevant entities to follow the established mechanisms, reverse the damage already done by removing the concrete and asphalt at the sides of the country pathways, and carry out sustainable development practices.
The statement was signed by the Malta Beekeepers’ Association, Għaqda Produtturi tal-Għasel Malti, Breeds of Origin Conservancy, Friends of the Earth Malta, BirdLife Malta, Ramblers Association of Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Għaqda Siġar Maltin, Green House, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Nature Trust (Malta), Permaculture Research Foundation Malta.
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