There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees…

Ok, I’ll own up. I stole the title from the opening lyrics to a Rush song (The Trees), which i think, is quite apt at this moment in time.

Following the population’s indignation at the Central Link Project and subsequent protest, a new force has arisen on the island. The people’s ire was demonstrated in a peaceful protest on site some days ago. This alone should have at least brought some people in government to their senses. To at least, hear the plight of those who have no agenda except that of really caring for what it deems to be an important issue in our country.

To my astonishment, the protesters, myself included, were ridiculed and trolled by party stalwarts who will vote for the same party irrespective of what that political faction takes away from them. It’s just the way some people are made… You can’t change them. And what really irks me is… this is not a political statement at all. We GENUINELY care for the greenery in our country, lacking as it already is.

We live on a tiny island. A wind-swept one at that… Thin topsoil, the rest blown away by the incessant winds buffeting us nearly every day.  It is estimated that 200 days per year we have winds of a stronger nature, and only ninety days of precipitation.

To me, it goes without saying that our efforts should go into building green lungs for a country which is hard-hit by lack of water, and hammered by a tropical sun for arguably the majority of the year… yeah, summers drag on late into the year.

So , when decisions to indiscriminately chop trees down to make way for wider roads are taken, it is fairly obvious that the population will reply in kind. And thus, protest.

I will admit to being dismayed by the willy nilly way in which these works are carried out. Trees being chopped down as if there’s no tomorrow are making the headlines and with good reason.

The road from Tarxien to Luqa has already been denuded, and it makes a pitiful sight as there are nothing but slabs of concrete to see. Shade? You’re kidding, right?

And now, Santa Lucija jogging track, a gentle little woodland (and barrier to the nearby ‘Tal Barrani Road’) has been savaged as well… In the photo below (Courtesy Google Maps), every bit of tree, shrubbery and blade of grass in the yellow marked zone has been removed.

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The absolute sadness is immense. I can no longer enjoy this little place… This, is what is left of it… and the other trees are slated for the chop as well…

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Let us compare with a picture of how it was a couple of days ago… You’ll agree it was beautiful… All that shade… Just shuffling under a tree with a book, and you’re set for a relaxed afternoon.

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And to think of all the pomp, jackets and hats the Santa Lucija council came up with to inaugurate the restoration of this little green emerald of ours a few months ago. (when I say restoration, I mean they added lava bricks on the surface… as if jogging knees appreciate hard-rock under their running shoes!)

The crux of the matter, is… I don’t even THINK this was necessary. At all. Let’s rewind back a bit. I will agree that many motorists spend an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel of their cars waiting for their turn to go over the roundabout at Santa Lucija.

But has any of the so called experts checked to see why it is so? Because I sincerely have my doubts. It only took me two minutes to realize it. Yes. The road downwards to Addolorata is already full of cars, with people having nowhere to go, and traffic being obliged to wait in line. Then we have cars coming out from Tarxien which impede the smooth flow of the cars on the roundabout.

What if… what if cars from Tarxien going to Valletta were to exit from somewhere else?

Why not oblige all cars going to Valletta to NOT use Xintill Street and Luqa Road in the morning rush hour up to 8.30am? With the new Marsa project, it will make cars at a standstill down Santa Lucija avenue practically obsolete. With no cars exiting the side roads, there is nothing to impede the traffic.

I don’t want anyone to get me wrong. I think that the projects WILL help traffic and pollution. I will take it as a fact that it would take a monumental miracle to unglue people from their vehicles so I would rather see how to alleviate the problem. Everyone has a right to a car and not everyone has the same usage.

Who am I to deny a person who has perhaps mobility problems? Sure enough, if usage was to decrease, then it can only help. But I have a poor impression of our public transport system, as my children use it all the time and they chew my ear off every day. It sucks, and little is being done. As for cycling facilities… gimme a break!

So yeah, I think that the Santa Lucija/Tarxien project should have been started after the Marsa link was done. I am pretty sure that a better picture could have emerged. As it is, with the Santa Lucija council keeping close to their party’s skirts and just repeating what it is fed, it will be a tough cookie to swallow.

According to the media, over five hundred trees are gone.

Let me repeat that.

Over FIVE HUNDRED TREES are gone. 

(Saplings are being replanted, sure… but is this not like killing pensioners just because we have kids growing up who can take their place? 

My question is… are these the next to go?

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(( On average, one tree produces nearly 200 kilograms of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.” An acre (4,000sq.m.) of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year.” Obviously, not all trees produce the same amount of oxygen in the same amount of time. ))

Disclaimer: I have no political affiliation. I do not care for, or follow anyone’s party lines. 

 

 

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