Updated at 11am with PD statement

An NGO has called for an investigation into the needless “massacre” of trees in various localities, notably a large carob tree in Lija, stressing that trees are needed because they improve air quality.

A number of trees – some of them landmarks – were removed from urban areas in the past weeks, including 14 mulberry trees (ċawsli) in Victoria, a Holm Oak tree (balluta) just outside the Upper Barrakka in Valletta, and the iconic carob tree (ħarruba) in Villa Forte Garden in Lija. The latter has a planning application which had been halted (PA 4852/16).

Nature Trust – FEE Malta said it hoped that investigations will be carried out as to why such trees have been cut, and whether such actions were, in fact, legal or otherwise.

“NT-FEE Malta cannot understand why the carob tree in Lija was cut down. It is about time that law enforcement is taken seriously on environmental issues and that the respective authorities that have been set up to safeguard our natural heritage take adequate action,” it said, noting that over the years many trees had been lost but that the few remaining were now also being destroyed.

Nature Trust – FEE Malta proposed that a unit on soft landscaping should be incorporated in the new Infrastructure Malta agency being proposed.

PD appeals for legislative loophole to be closed

Partit Demokratiku revealed that an area of carobs at Żonqor Point would be destroyed, according to information given at a public meeting on May 16.

“A new road is planned leading up to a planned swimming pool and residences (PA/00055/18). The new uphill road will additionally direct rainwater onto the property of residents,” it said.

According to the 549.64 Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations there is a loophole whereby compensatory planning of trees provides some excuse to destroy protected species, such as carobs. It was this loophole which was likely allowing the development mentioned above to go ahead, it explained.

The party called for the closing of any loopholes and for dditional protection for trees. It also noted that trees being cut down was not the only problem: there were 65 applications approved for pruning of trees between 2017 and April 2018, saying that the approach used was “destructive”.

Photos: 'Before' photos from Google Street View and 'after' from Facebook.

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