Architects and engineers join forces with proposal for aggressive afforestation of Maltese islands

A group of lawyers and engineers have launched a proposal for the afforestation of the Maltese islands. The proposal, ‘Help Malta Breathe’, which was launched by means of a video on social media shows the concept of indigenous trees planted in various locations around the country.

The first location identified by the group, made up of 24 architectural firms, is in the national park of Inwadar which starts from Zonqor in Marsascala and keeps going to Xgħajra.

The site covers 315,000 square metres most of which is made up of abandoned fields, the shoreline and already has an irrigation system coming from the sewage plant at Ta’ Barkat, which is located at the edge of this site.

The proposal presented in the video was taken by a drone along with an artistic impression of how the same site will look in 20 years if the afforestation proposal of planting more than 40,000 trees is approved.

The video mentions the main reasons why Malta desperately needs more woods. These include air purification, the creation of more natural recreational spaces, the balance of extra development and reducing the temperature of the islands which occurs naturally thanks to the trees through transpiration, which amounts to 10% of the humidity in the earth’s atmosphere.

Afforestation is not a new concept for the Maltese islands. In 1960 a successful afforestation project was carried out in Miżieb in the limits of Manikata in Mellieħa, which is the largest forest in Malta, covering 650,000 square metres. And if one goes back in time, Buskett was also an afforestation project created by the Knights of Malta.

The presentation also explains the way in which Miżieb was built in the 60s, when holes were drilled into the rocks, filled with soil and plants were planted.

“We appreciate that right now there is more effort to plant trees around the country, however we feel that unless something aggressive is done immediately our island will become a desert by the time our children grow up,” said architect Nicholas Mallia, a partner at Periti Studio.

“We are obligated to ourselves and towards future generations to take action nów, because the more time passes, the more difficult it will be to address the problem.” Mr Mallia added that the project will be carefully planned so that there will always be enough water available for watering.

The idea is for similar projects to be carried out at Baħar iċ‑Ċagħaq, Naxxar, San Gwann, Mellieha and Gozo.

The architect added: “We need to start discussions on how to ensure that Malta will remain a liveable place for our children and grandchildren by creating many areas of indigenous woods which will inevitably result in a better quality of life.”

“It is an ambitious yet vital project. Trees are one of the most important elements for a healthy environment which produces  oxygen, sustains wildlife and has been scientifically proven to improve people’s mental health.”