Help Malta Breathe: Maltese architects propose aggressive afforestation plan for Maltese Islands

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 September, 2021 at 9:39 am by Andre Camilleri

A group of local architects and engineers have just released an afforestation proposal for the Maltese Islands. The proposal ‘Help Malta Breathe’, which was released in the form of a video on social media, outlines the concept of planting of indigenous trees in a series of designated sites in Malta & Gozo.

The first site to be earmarked by the group of 25 architectural firms, is within the national park of Inwadar which stretches between Zonqor point in Marsascala and Xghajra. The afforestation site covering 315,000 square meters is mostly over abandoned agricultural fields, disturbed foreshore and is supported by a readily available source of irrigation in the form of polished water from the Ta’ Barkat sewage treatment plant found on edge of the site.

Before and after images of Inwadar national park, should the afforestation project move ahead. Credit Periti Studio.

The proposal presents current drone footage of the proposed site in Inwadar national park and a render of what the same site would look like in 20 years’ time should the afforestation proposal go through which includes the planting of over 40,000 trees in this area.

The video also outlines the main reasons Malta desperately needs more forested areas, which include: the purification of the air, creating more natural recreational spaces, balancing out the overdevelopment, and cooling down of the island which occurs naturally thanks to the trees, through transpiration, which accounts for about 10% of moisture in the earth’s atmosphere.

Afforestation is not a new concept for the Maltese Islands. Back in 1960’s, an afforestation project was carried out successfully in Mizieb limits of Manikata Mellieha., which is now Malta’s largest woodland area covering 650,000 square metres. Going back further in time, Buskett was also an afforestation project done by the Knights of Malta.

The presentation goes on to explain the methodology used in the 1960’s in Mizieb, back then holes were excavated in the rock, infilled with soil and saplings planted. Fast forward to today and one finds Malta’s largest woodland.

“We appreciate that there currently seems to be an effort to plant trees around Malta & Gozo, however we strongly feel that unless something aggressive is done as soon as possible, our island will become a desert by the time our children are adults.” said Nicholas Mallia, partner at Periti Studio.

“We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to take action now, because as time passes it will get harder and harder to address the problem” Perit Mallia continued to explain that in parallel with the afforestation project, there also needs to be a water security drive since one is dependent on the other.

The site is the first of a number of areas that the architects have earmarked. It is their intention to propose similar afforestation projects in Bahar ic-Caqghaq, Naxxar, San Gwann, Mellieha and Gozo amongst others.

The architect concluded: “We want to start a conversation about making sure Malta is a habitable space for our children and our children’s children, this by creating multiple dense areas of indigenous woodland which will inevitably lead to a better quality of life.

It is an ambitious project, but most certainly necessary. Trees are one of the most important elements for a healthy environment, they emit oxygen, they sustain wildlife and have also been scientifically proven to improve the mental health of people.”

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