Press Release – World Water Day

World Water Day 22 March

On this World Water Day, Nature Trust Malta calls upon the Government to show strong leadership on water

issues both at home and abroad.

“As EU president and chair-in- office of the Commonwealth Malta has the unique opportunity to advocate on

global water issues,” Nature Trust’s President Vincent Attard stated. “Many countries are already facing

severe droughts and /or unprecedented flooding and will face the progressive worsening of these problems

due to the growing impact of climate change. Malta itself is classified as one of the most ‘water poor’ nations

on the planet while the Mediterranean will be amongst the regions hardest hit by climate change.”

“Malta urgently needs a formal national water plan emerging from an inclusive national dialogue bringing

together all stakeholders. Parliament should then enact a long-term national water strategy, aligned with both

the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to 2030 and existing Mediterranean initiatives. Also needed is a

clear delineation and reorganisation of responsibilities of the current water governance structure.”

“Malta island’s mean sealevel aquifer is its main source of freshwater – but increasingly threatened by the

rising sea level caused to climate change which increases the water’s salt content. Already about 60% of our

water comes from seawater desalination – which is energy intensive, producing large quantities of waste and

is vulnerable to any major oil spill offshore, or suspension of supplies due to some political crisis in the

region. Continued reliance on this source is inevitable but the nation must make every effort to maximise our

own resources, through water saving, maximum possible capture of rainwater, stormwater and reuse of

treated waste water from the current sewage plants”.

“We commend the WSC’s water saving tips posted on its website – but these should be enclosed in every

water bill sent to consumers. The identification, registration and metering of currently illegal boreholes must

be completed, and a strategy worked out to bill their owners for withdrawals. Government purchases from

private (bowser) suppliers must also be critically reviewed . \So must the growing numbers of swimming

pools and car washing facilities and of what water they use – fresh or recycled? ”.

“Agriculture remains the leading water user. Under the Strategy we propose farmers must be strongly

motivated to conserve and capture water on-site, enabled to use polished wastewater and review their current

cropping patterns so as to progressively adopt less water-intensive and more drought resistant strains”.

“Water capture and storage systems must be mandatory in all new buildings and fiscal incentives offered to

all building owners to instal such systems, or revive systems originally built into the structure which are now

disused.”

Nature Trust Malta has been actively contributing to improving Malta’s water situation as local manager of

the international Alter Aqua project on non-conventional resources.  NTM has trained 926 educators while

some 10358 students have attended interactive workshops conducted by Ekoskola (80% of schools) teachers

and at the Xrobb l’Ghagin Nature Park and Sustainable Development Centre where applications can be made

for training. Nature Trust also partners with HBSC in its’Catch the Drop’ project.

Press Release 15 June 2016

MSCAST Students do Environmental conservation work at Wied Ghollieqa Nature Reserve

Students studying Environmental Conservation and Sustainability at MCAST, together with one of their lecturers Dr Eman Calleja dedicated a half day conservation work at the Wied Ghollieqa Nature Reserve managed by Nature Trust (Malta)
The students focused on the removal of invasive alien species in the valley bed, clearing almost a tumolo of land from the Castor Oil tree and other aliens. Seeds of these species are carried every year into the site by rain water currents coming from the San Gwann Industrial Estate and the Mater Dei Hospital. Furthermore the students also removed litter that is brought into the site by rain water currents and by people visiting the valley. The students and the Lecturer were joined by the NTM Wied Ghollieqa Site Manager Ms Louise Bajjada.
The Wied Ghollieqa project started way back in the late 1980s when students members of Arbor managed to stop heavy development planned for the valley area. Over the years kilometres of rubble walls were restored and thousands of trees and shrubs were planted by the Nature Trust (Malta) Volunteers. Today these form a healthy semi-natural Mediterranean schlerophyllous Woodland. Trees include the Carob tree, the Aleppo Pine, the Holm Oak, the Sandarac Tree, the Mediterranean Dwarf Palm and Olive trees.
The valley is being ecologically restored and today houses a large number of fauna and avi fauna in this green lung located right between Kappara and the University of Malta. The reserve has also been declared a Nataura 2000 site of National Importance.
This Nature Reserve is open to the public to enjoy and is also used by students to study environmental education, scientific research and also other conservation projects.
Nature Trust (Malta) would like to thank all the students for giving up part of their free time towards the conservation of our Natural Heritage. It also appeals to the public who may note vandalism in the area to report these either to the Police or Nature Trust (Malta) on 21313150 or by email info@naturetrustmalta.org

Press Release 13 February 2016

NTM expresses concern over unsustainable proposals at Wied Ghomor – ODZ site

 

Nature Trust (Malta) joins in the concerns raised by the Swieqi Local Council and the San Gwann Local council over the the proposed development of a tourist village in an ODZ valley between the two localities.
NTM feels that the way ODZ areas are being treated by the authorities is a major concern today and has simply become a rubber band in the hands of our politicians in the last 15 years leading to numerous unsustainable developments.
Wied Ghomor is a valley system offering a variety of fauna and flora and also acting as the green lung for two densely populated villages – Swieqi and San Gwann. The development if approved will further contribute to the destruction of this green belt, cause more air pollution due to added traffic and will become another unsustainable project approved by our national authorities who should be safeguarding the remaining ODZ areas.

Wied Ghomor forms part of a valley system cutting into the lower coralline limestone, which is crucial in the replenishment of the mean sea level aquifer. Any form of development would render this natural infiltration impossible. Just a few weeks ago, the media also reported the redevelopment of an old people’s home in a quarry further up in this valley.

Such use of abandoned land in ODZ and in water catchment areas for development purposes should be refused and instead landscaped and restored to mimic the original state of the valley system and so contain the ever increasing threats to our diminishing aquifers.

NTM strongly opposes this proposed development and calls on MEPA to pull up its stocks and act to stop this craze of ODZ developments. ODZ applications should be the exception not the rule with many applications being filed.

Event: Launch of MEDTRENDS Report

Nature Trust Malta in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in Malta is proud to invite you for the launch of the results of the MEDTRENDS project, a Med Programme funded project on Wednesday,13th January 2016 at 10:00am at Europe House, 254, St. Paul Street, Valletta.

The launch of the MedTrends project will celebrate the completion of a Mediterranean-wide project aimed at carrying out an overall analysis of growth trends and potential cumulative impacts of human activities at sea, with an emphasis on the achievement of the Good Environmental Status (GES) objective set by the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). MedTrends has been scoped to illustrate and map the most likely future scenarios of marine economic growth at a national and transnational level in Med-EU countries.
A number of over-arching sectors have been chosen for this exercise. As far as Malta’s reporting is concerned, relevant themes such as maritime transport, extraction of living and non-living resources, coastal infrastructure, land-based activities, and waste disposal were assessed. The local report forms part of a collection of other national reports compiled by the MedTrends partners, together with a transnational report which outlines scenarios for the future development.
By means of this project, Nature Trust (Malta) is presenting a number of important viewpoints and recommendations in order to assist national authorities towards achieving GES of the local marine environment by 2020.
The partners in the MEDTRENDS project want to promote a common and integrated management of maritime space among all the involved stakeholders and an approach that takes into consideration the overall picture. A healthy marine environment must be at the heart of the integrated management of the Mediterranean.
Copies of the report will be made available on the MEDTRENDS page during the launch event.

Partners in the MEDTRENDS project:
– WWF-France
– WWF-MedPO in partnership with WWF-Italy
– WWF-Greece
– WWF-Spain
– Nature Trust (Malta)

Programme
10:00      Registration and welcome coffee
10:20      Welcome speech by Ms Elena Grech, Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta
10:30      Introduction by Mr Vincent Attard, CEO Nature Trust Malta
10:40      Results and recommendations by Dr Charles Galdies
11:10       Questions from the floor
11:25       Conclusion

Attendance by registration only: info@naturetrustmalta.org

Press Release 5 January 2016

At the start of 2016, Nature Trust (Malta) would like to call on the National authorities to make a resolution for 2016 and place the environment high on the national agenda. Malta and Gozo have suffered over the years due to bad planning decisions and lack of law enforcement in the environmental sector.
Government after government has made the Outside Development Zone a rubber band for its political manoeuvres purely for vote-catching purposes, rather than striving to implement sustainable development growth. Over the years very little has been invested in our countryside and natural environment. Today, our countryside environment is in a pitiful state with illegal dumping, illegal development, and no law enforcement.
Nature Trust (Malta) has long been calling for environmental police and rangers in our country side to deter illegal activities and enforce existing laws. Issues such as the Armier boathouses still linger from the past with no government having the courage to take action and solve them once and for all. All the political parties in Malta manage to do is blame one another for past and present mistakes, without doing anything to correct them. They seem to be only interested in emphasising past mistakes in order to justify new ones.
A few weeks ago a milestone international agreement was reached on climate change after years of idle talk and simply letting the problem grow bigger. Finally, many countries are realising that we are essentially destroying our planet under the pretext of economic growth.
NTM feels that Malta too has to think locally and move on towards environmental protection. Malta’s wish list should include implementing the following courses of action for this year:
• Have effective environmental law enforcement
• Stop ODZ development and focus on regeneration of the existing built-up areas. Set up and truly implement Marine Protected Areas
• Take action on illegal buildings spread all over the country
• Boost renewable energy and clean energy in the economy
• Implement afforestation projects which have been long overdue despite commissioning of studies and reports
• Address the traffic issue which is becoming a health hazard due to pollution in our towns and villages
• Allocate budgets for biodiversity protection
• Take immediate action on the ground water problem before it is too late
• Put environmental conservation on a horizontal level in all ministries and departments
• Promote truly green procurement
• Give the power it deserves to the new Environment Authority and not have just another toothless body which politicians can hide behind
• Put sustainable development and its true meaning as part of the country’s policy and make sure that development applications are done sustainably with carrying capacity studies (Eg today we have a large number of Petrol applications in ODZ when we already have a large number of existing ones)
The environment has in recent years been shoved down lower on the agenda. This can also be seen from the concerns of the Maltese in the latest Euro Barometer findings. Malta deserves better from our leaders than such a sorry state of affairs, when we clearly have the potential to be an example for all Europe in the sphere of Sustainable Development.

Press Release – Ahead of COP 21 – Actions demanded

Nature Trust (Malta) ahead of the Cop 21 Conference – Demand action on Climate change

Nature Trust (Malta) joins the millions of protesters in Europe and world in demanding action by our world leaders to seriously address the Climate change situation world wide.
For the last years we have only seen world leaders discuss and talk on actions but with little concrete actions, Only the European Union has taken some steps which although are positive yet we still lack urgent action to help mitigate the situation our plant will face in the near future.
Nature Trust (Malta) as WWF partner therefore calls on world leaders including our Minister for the Environment to ensure that in this conference actions are agreed and implemented without further delay. The planet has had enough of reports and discussions. Now we either act or we lose. World leaders should realise that our planet does not have a Plan B and so if we do not act mankind will simply disappear or suffer – especially our children who would face the catastrophes.
Therefore we demand the following
PROTECTION FOR THE VULNERABLE – help the poor, stop the destruction of forests and natural areas, provide assistance to small Islands;
STRONG SIGNALS THAT GHG EMISSIONS WILL BE PHASED OUT EQUITABLY – We need to take action as soon as possible and stop all GHG emissions. We must reach the 2050 Targets to phase out fossil fuels and phase in 100% renewable energy;
MECHANISMS TO SCALE UP EFFORTS EQUITABLY AND CONTINUOUSLY – A robust transparency framework to track progress and build trust, including for the forest and land-use sector. Also a strong and uniform international guidelines for future commitment setting;
CLEAR RECOGNITION OF THE AMBITION GAP AND CONCRETE STEPS TO CLOSE IT EQUITABLY – Clear mandate for high-level engagements to launch new additional actions and support and Ratification of the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol;
A SOLID RESOURCING FOUNDATION – Affirmation to shift investments away from fossil fuels to sustainable low/zero carbon alternatives.

NTM hopes that as Malta was the champion some years back to put Climate Change on the International agenda, now it should be the Maltese Government again to demand these actions and not just promised. We only have one planet as home so let us save it with concrete actions.

Press Release

Preventing further damage to our countryside

As part of its commitment to preserving the ecology of the Pembroke Natura 200 reserve Nature Trust took the first step when it joined forces with one of Malta’s newest IT services companies, Tek Experts, in a conservation day which took place on the 31 October 2015.

The event, which was attended by 30 employees, aimed to help the sustainable development of the site while also making it an attractive area for eco-tourism and recreation. In just less than two hours, over 175kg of waste was collected from part of this ecological site. Most of the waste was related to picnics, BBQs and white goods. All waste collected was separated so this could be disposed the correct way.

Leo Brincat, the Minister for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change and the Mayor for Pembroke Local Council were also in attendance and highlighted how important events such as this are to the development of the area as one of outstanding nature beauty and interest.

Nature Trust (Malta) Executive President Vincent Attard commented: “The help we see through such events contributes a great deal to the conservation of sites like this. Over the last few years over 5000 kilos of waste have been removed from the Pembroke site alone. And that tells us that we are doing some great work. But it also tells us that litter and dumping are a major issue for areas like Pembroke. They not only damage the environment but have a negative economic impact on tourism.”

He went on to say, “At Nature Trust (Malta) we are working with the authorities to come up with long term solutions to the problem of countryside damage, including proposing introducing rangers who can help prevent problems such as this. It’s work in progress, but one we are committed to. In the meantime, companies like Tek Experts are going a long way to helping us bring back our beautiful landscapes.”

Reuben Muscat, General Manager of Tek Experts in Malta said: “We have embarked on this corporate social responsibility program not just as a feel-good afterthought but as a measure of our overall value and energy as a Company. I personally believe that our local and international employees are fully engaged in this agenda due to the inspiration and deeper involvement that they feel with the Company and its strategic goals. Today’s conscious employees demand more than energy-efficient lighting at the office and recycling bins – they demand corporate social responsibility programs that provide them with multiple and diverse opportunities to become personally engaged in making a difference that has a direct effect on the community that they live in. We are proud to be part of this event and will continue with our commitment to helping our community in any way that we can.”

Tek Experts is a global IT company operating from five sites around the world, including Malta. The company has a young and energetic workforce that provides services to client companies to manage their business operations by delivering unrivalled levels of business and IT support. In this way the client companies can focus on their core objectives, expand their service offering and exceed their customer expectations. The services are designed with their customers in mind and include software support, application development, training and education, sales support, customer care, hardware support and software solutions.

Tek Experts operates across borders, different languages and time zones, providing expertise, networks and flexibility to be able to support their clients from any international location in the world and establish new operations, hubs and teams at breakneck speed.

Tek IT PR Photo

NTM calls for a Budget Vote for Biodiversity and Site Management

Nature Trust (Malta) calls on the government to put the Environment agenda high for the next budget vote for the year 2016.

For the last years, budgets have failed to address habitat and biodiversity protection. Funding for Natura 2000 sites has been lacking and the only work done was by NGOs. Despite MEPA having obtained EU funding to draft management plans for the designated Natura 2000 sites in the Maltese Islands, these still await approval some five years down the line. Furthermore, once such plans are approved, hopefully in the near future, a vote for the implementation of such plans is essential so these sites can be truly protected and conserved.

Nature Trust (Malta) feels that the way things have been moving it seems like the authorities are only hoping that NGOs try to seek EU funds to protect such sites rather than help in the conservation of these areas which is after all the duty of the same government to do this.

The NGO urges the Finance and Environment Minister to ensure that an adequate budget vote is present for the management of all Natura 2000 sites and for the research needed to set up Marine Protected areas which will be of benefit for the economy and society.

Nature Trust (Malta) also urges the government to commit to the environment since, to date, the environmental agenda has been at an all time low with ODZ applications becoming the order of the day and thus going far away from sustainable development.

NTM Staff and Educators attend ESD Training in Slovakia

A delegation made up of educators involved in the EkoSkola programme and the management of the Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park together with two Education Officers participated in an Erasmus+ Key Action 1 Funding Logofunded project in Slovakia which focused on exploring methodologies that promote Developing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the curriculum and at Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park.

Developing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a cross-curricular theme, as requested by the National ESD 1Curriculum Framework (NCF), does not merely involve finding environmentally related topics and inserting them in syllabi that can accommodate them. This line of thinking would traditionally relegate ESD solely to science subjects, geography and maybe social studies. Such, traditional misconceptions about ESD still linger (and hinder) its seamless integration. As outlined in all the major conferences, ESD is essentially a methodology that equips learners with skills that will help them become functional citizens.

Nevertheless, changing the dominant pedagogy in schools is not an easy task as it involves a change in the mindsets of teachers, school administrators and education authorities. Research has shown that addressing this change in the way we view teaching and learning is the surest way of successfully implementing ESD. For these last twelve years, Nature Trust (Malta) has been systematically adopting this whole institution strategy through its international ESD programme: EkoSkola.

With the aim of taking this approach a notch further, Nature Trust (Malta) partnered with BIOSPEKTRUM (a Slovakian NGO) in an EU’s Erasmus+ KA1 project called Catering for All and organised a training visit to Banská Bystrica in Slovakia. The Maltese delegation was made up of Lorraine Anne Dimech Magrin (EO Home Economics), Mariangela Schembri Meli (EO Early Years), Vince Attard (Nature Trust President), Prof Paul Pace (Director CEER), the six EkoSkola teachers and the teacher based at Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park. The visit was an opportunity to share and exchange experiences in the integration of ESD in nature park management, Home Economics and across the Early Years sector.

The themes explored during the visit included: (a) outdoor education as a means of integrating various dimensions of sustainability; (b) early childhood experiences leading to sustainableESD 2 choices; (c) sustainable food consumption; (d) non-formal ESD initiatives in the community and (e) outdoor learning and experiences for all. Besides visits to schools, the delegation also visited the Forest Research Institute at Zvolen and the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Matej Bel University. The Maltese and Slovak partners reviewed and discussed specific examples of methodologies and technologies adopted with learners of different ages and in formal and non-formal settings. Meetings also focused on finding ways how nature parks are promoted to attract more visitors and enhance learning by catering for their different learning needs and abilities.

During the visit, Mr Attard and Prof Pace met Dr Jarmila Kmetova (Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences) and Ing Marek Drimal (Head of the Department of Environmental Management) both from the Matej Bel University to consolidate collaboration links with Nature Trust and CEER. The entities plan to collaborate in the hosting of Slovak students at the Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park and Sustainable Development Centre, extending study visits to other EOs and practicing teachers, developing ESD educational material and supporting the development of ESD training programmes.

A third training experience in collaboration with BIOSPEKTRUM, aimed at improving organisation and management at Nature Trust Malta.  This mobility focused on discussing and sharing concerns, difficulties encountered, delegation of managerial work and relate more on a European dimension rather than national, thus expanding dissemination, job sharing, provide varied learning experiences and increase in outreach and raising environmental awareness and concern amongst the population. Thanks to EUPA for their support and making this mobility possible and thanks also go to Dr Judita Tomaskinova and Ms Monika Rakaiova, BIOSPEKTRUM Chairwoman.

This training experience was only made possible through European Union Programmes Agency which funds were awarded under the Erasmus+ Key Action 1: Learning Mobility of Individuals programme. Thanks also go to Funding Logo

Mr Gaetano Bugeja (Director – Curriculum Management) for authorising the participation of the Maltese educators and to Dr Judita Tomaskinova and Monika Rakaiova, the Slovak partners from BIOSPEKTRUM who organised all the training programmes.

 

 

Press Statement

Our Natural Environment is under rape

Nature Trust is deeply appalled by this criminal act on our natural heritage where a protected species of indigenous tree, the Silvery-leaved Poplar, Populus abla, Sigar tal-Luq was ringed thus causing this magnificent tree to die.

These species of tree is one of the very few strictly riparian (valley-bed based flora) trees, other rare species being the Narrow-leaved Ash, Narrow-leaved Elm, and the two species of Willows, the Mediterranean and White Willows. The Silvery-leaved Poplar does not occur in every valley in the Maltese islands, occurring mainly along narrows strips in the south central and centre of the island, and in one valley in Gozo. To make things more challenging for this species locally, practically all trees of this species in Malta are male, so they can only reproduce vegetative via their roots, and they need space and free soil to do so. Poplars are deciduous species, they shed their leaves in winter, so they provide shade in summer, and allow enough sunlight to enter the surrounding environment in winter. Due to its scarcity and restricted habitat, the Silvery-leaved Poplar is listed in Schedule I of the Malta Tree Regulation LN200 of 2011.

Nature Trust urges that whoever has any information related to this incident to report to the authorities. It is about time our natural environment is given the importance it deserves by governments and national authorities. Despite existing legislation very little is done to preserve the few remaining areas our Islands have. It is time our politician set up the long promised Environment Police or wardens to patrol our natural sites and apprehend environmental terrorists who enjoy destroying anything that is of ecological value