NTM urges authorities to commit themselves too

Nature Trust – FEE Malta commends the national clean up event organised by Let’s Do it Malta and JCI on Saturday where tons of litter were collected from every corner around Malta. It was great to see citizens and foreigners all eager to clean up our island and countryside from what other very irresponsible people leave behind or dump irresponsibly.

NT-FEE Malta now hopes that the authorities will pull up their socks and make sure what was cleaned remains clean and that law enforcement is enforced. It is about time that the law backs such initiatives. The NGO stated that despite various clean ups it and other NGOs do, after just a few weeks most of the sites end up full of litter again.

Nature Trust said that in Pembroke alone over 750kgs of waste were collected by some 160 volunteers including the AFM, Leave Pembroke Alone, Nature Trust volunteers and many foreigners.

A lot more remains in an area where alien acacia trees grow and are becoming a common hideaway from litter tippers when they drive into the area with their vehicles and dump all they have. NT-FEE Malta has been working with the Environment Resource Authority, MTA and the Local council to have these trees removed and replaced with local flora for some time now, especially since acacia not only cause harm to the garigue habitat at Pembroke but are now hiding illegal activities.

NT-FEE Malta stresses that it is about time green rangers are deployed in Natura 2000 sites to ensure that people do not litter again and heavy fines should be imposed to law breakers. The authorities should wake up and support the public and not expect the public to clean time and time again litter that will accumulate in such sites within a few days. Law abiding citizens are not there to support law breakers who do not have the decency to get rid of their litter the legal way and then wait for others to do it for them while the authorities just watch.

NTM is concerned on how the major political Parties are putting  aside the Environment and our natural heritage 

NTM is concerned on how the major political Parties are putting  aside the Environment and our natural heritage
Nature Trust Malta notes that both prospective PN contestant leaders have met Construction lobbyists, yet none of the 2 contenders had offered till now to meet environmental groups whose main  strategy is the common good for all citizens even those yet to come to be able to enjoy our natural and cultural heritage . On a tiny overdeveloped polluted Island with most decisions taken in favour of construction  – it is a shame that the ugly reality is being sidelined – that of continuous environmental degradation leading to poorer quality of life.
NTM feels that now both the two major political parties simply do not have the Environment and natural heritage on their agenda but only look at the economy and forgetting the other two pillars of Sustainable Development – Social and Environment

Three Hedgehogs under Rehabilitation Released at Wied Ghollieqa Nature Reserve

On Tuesday 5th September Nature Trust Malta released 3 hedgehogs in the presence of Minister Herrera and some members of the Nature Trust Wildlife Rescue volunteers together with the family of Christina Magrin – winner of the Junior Eurovision Contest 2016.

Two of the hedgehogs were born in rehab from a mother hedgehog who was on rehab after she was found by Christina and her sister Karla Magrin . They called Nature Trust Rescue and it was discovered that the hedgehog was in fact blind from one eye. Under vet’s orders the hedgehog could not be returned to the wild due to her permanent disability. A few weeks later while recovering and in rehab – it gave birth to two hoglets. These hoglets were kept with their mum who nurtured them until they were independent . The hoglets were trained to eat natural food such as snails and insects. At 24 weeks they were deemed old enough to be released in the wild. Another adult hedgehog which was rescued with a minor injury the week before and which had recovered after medication, also joined the release. All 3 hedgehogs were released in the Wied Ghollieqa nature reserve .

 

Minster Hererra congratulated Nature Trust – FEE Malta on this laudable initiative. He added that it was indispensable for the future of our beautiful country to preserve at all costs our local fauna

Nature Trust – FEE Malta reminded that the Algerian Hedgehog which is native to the Maltese islands is a protected species and therefore it is illegal to keep as a pet . During the present year already various hedgehogs have been rescued by the Wildlife Volunteers and assisted by the Voluntary Vets with the NGO. NT-FEE Malta appealed to the public not to remove hedgehogs unless injured as hedgehogs seen could be mothers out hunting during the night to feed their young

Press Release on the Occasion of the Season of Creation

Nature Trust – FEE Malta applauds the efforts done by the Church in Malta to increase 
awareness about the importance of the protection of trees and the need to revamp current legislation to protect those trees which have no protection status. The idea of incorporating trees into the aesthetics of the landscape and their consequential protection is to be
commended and legislated. This comes at a time when the Church is joining all the Christians around the world to celebrate the Season of Creation (1st September to 4th October).
NT-FEE Malta is noting that the ongoing onslaught on trees along roads is short​-sighted and short​-term​, as widening a road section would still lead to bottlenecks elsewhere. Improved
public transport and better incentives for students​, frequent commuters and cycl​ists is the way forward. Where trees have to be removed adequate compensation must be sought in the form of ​the ​​planting of ​new indigenous trees​, if possible within the same locality. To this end​,​ NT-FEE Malta asks whether long term plans exist to ensure that an adequate supply of local indigenous stock exists. Importing indigenous trees would lead to genetic pollution of
the local stock and the high risk of pest infestations from imports as happened in the past, despite the protective measures in place.
On this occasion of Interfaith Celebration of Creation, NT-FEE Malta would like to see the authorities concerned show a committed and wider appreciation and protection of local biodiversity. In particular, it urges the Environment and Resources Authority to take into account protected fauna when issuing the development permit conditions for applications on abandoned fields​, especially those found within scheme. Most often such areas are the
last enclave for protected species such as hedgehogs, shrews, snakes, chameleons and bats.
ERA must ensure that such species be safeguarded through a well-planned relocation exercise which must be borne by the developer of the ​site. On many occasions​, Nature Trust ​has been ​receiving calls ​reporting animals fleeing or being killed during excavation works. It is useless ​to ​have laws protecting local biodiversity ​when these ​are being
flagrantly ignored by the authorities.

THE 2017 SEASON OF CREATION JOINT STATEMENT BY THE CHURCH ENVIRONMENT COMMISSION & NATURE TRUST

The 2017 Christian Season of Creation (1st September to 4th October) in Malta and Gozo, will be launched by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna during a Solemn Mass at St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, on Saturday 2nd September, at 6pm. The Mass will follow prayers for creation which will be said in all churches in Malta and Gozo on 1st September.
A closing Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Mario Grech, at the Conventual Franciscan Church in Republic Street, Valletta, on Sunday 1st October at 10:30 a.m.
The events marking the Season of Creation, organised jointly by the Church Environment Commission (KA) and Nature Trust Malta (NTM), include a visit to Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park and Sustainable Development Centre on 24th September at 9:00 a.m. A talk on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ will be delivered by Professor Paul Pace of the University of Malta. A photographic exhibition will also be held in Gozo during the month of September.
On 4th October, a public meeting entitled “Laudato Si’: Interfaith and Secular perspectives on the care for creation”, will be held at the Millennium Chapel, Paceville, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Speakers include representatives of Christian faith, Jews, Muslims, as well as representatives of environmental NGOs and Mediterranean regional organisations. Mgr Alessandro D’Errico, the Apostolic Nuncio to Malta, and Mr Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will also address the meeting. This meeting will precede the international conference ‘Our Ocean’, organised by the European Union on 5th and 6th October in St Julian’s.
Mario Camenzuli, KA Chairperson said: “All Maltese are invited to reflect and focus on how they care for their environment, both in the home and outside, and on how they can possibly make up for the damage to our common home by an egocentric lifestyle. I encourage you all to attend the celebrations of Mass, to give thanks for the wonderful creation we live in and to commit ourselves to its care. But please also organise your own events, big or small, in your
Archbishop’s Curia Postal Address Tel. +356 2124 1281
St Calcedonius Square Archdiocese of Malta, P.O. Box 90, Email. info@maltadiocese.org
Floriana, FRN 1535, Malta Head Office, Marsa, MRS1000 www.thechurchinmalta.org
residence, street, parish, school or place of work. Let us know what you decide to do by writing to us on cecntmmed@gmail.com.”
Vincent Attard: NTM President said: “Malta’s environmental challenges will intensify with the growing impacts of climate change – on summer and winter temperatures, rainfall, the erosion of our coasts and survival of our unique biodiversity. All these added to the problems we are facing right now. The Christian Season of Creation is an ideal moment for citizens to focus on what they can do and on what they believe needs to be done by the authorities and key sectors of the economy to deliver solutions”.
The Season of Creation was initiated in 1989 by the Orthodox Patriarchy of Constantinople and is now observed by all Christian churches worldwide. On Friday morning, 1st September, Pope Francis will issue a message to mark the start of the Season. A network of international Christian NGOs is coordinating activities around the world and organising an online prayer service on 16th September – www.seasonofcreation.org – addressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other religious leaders.

Concern on Il Ballut Saltmarsh at Marsaxlokk

Recent fires which seem to have been caused by vandals in the area known as Il-Ballut at Marsaxlokk have caused great concern to Nature Trust –FEE Malta. This site houses an important habitat – a Salt March environment and which today holds the status of a Natura 2000 site protected at EU level.
For the last 30 years Nature Trust –FEE Malta has been desperately trying to get the local authorities to act and conserve this site – by action and not just on paper.
Way back in the early 90s the endemic killifish (buzaq) was still found in the salt marsh. However despite various reports to the relevant environment authorities on uncontrolled pollution for nearby pig farms at that time , no action was ever taken and the killifish population in this area all died out.
In the late 80s the site witnessed the dumping of rubble waste from the constriction of the Delimara Power station. Later the dredging of the Marsaxlokk port for the construction of the Freeport continued to change the water currents in the bay so much so that today the area and coastline is being eroded away. Part of the embankment that existed together with parts of the site have been eaten up by coastal erosion. This has also exposed the sensitive part of the habitat to marine litter and debris.
Years of illegal dumping and vandalism followed to the desperation on the environmental NGO despite various calls to the Environment Authorities (then MEPA)
For years and with the support of the Local Council the NGO has been calling for action. NT-FEE Malta feels that with proper management the site can be conserved and turned into an eco tourism attraction for the area offering education and nature to visitors. Furthermore NT-FEE Malta was also proposing that the adjacent beach be upgraded and given the Beach of Quality status for the benefit of the residents of Marsaxlokk. The NGO hopes that once the site is fully conserved the reintroduction of the killifish could occur. NT-FEE is at the moment doing a breeding programme of the killifish with the Malta Aquaculture Centre in Marasaxlokk, and so far results have been positive .
The Salta Marsh is also an important habitat in the South of Malta that attracts various migratory birds. So far some 65 species of birds have been recorded visiting the site

Only recently NT-FEE Malta witnessed some actions being planned by the Environment Resource authority to help protected the site. The last fire incident however has shown that very urgent short term actions have to be taken before it is too late. Malta has already lost too much natural areas and it is time we truly protect what is left

Press Release –

Nature Trust – FEE Malta today released three more turtles from the Blue Flag Beach of Golden Bay. 3 August 2017

Three turtles were released today from Golden Bay after months of rehab at San Lucjan

Europa – a three year old turtle that was recovered off shore in the White Tower Bay area on 9 May 2017 (Europe Day) . She had been found floating trapped in entanglement and with an embedded hook. She was one of the first turtle to be operated with the new Endoscope purchased by the organisation partly funded by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change. This new equipment which cost in the region of Eur 15,000 is now making it possible for injured turtles to recover faster when operated on the removal of Hooks.
Myrtle – an 8 year old turtle rescued from Xlendi Gozo area in January 2017 – she was founded with an embedded hook and a wound in the front flipper caused by the fishing line coming out. AS the hook was embedded too deep in the stomach of the animal, the turtle was treated in order to help it expel the hook and line. Following treatment the hook and line were expelled a month ago. After being monitored for one month, the Vet Dr A Grupetta certified it for release.
Moana – a 12 year old turtle was one of the latest to be rescued. It was rescued by a boat sailing from Sicily to Malta where the people on the boat noted that it was not diving and swimming loop sided. The turtle was brought to shore and passed to Nature Trust – Wildlife Rescue. Following treatment it fully recovered. The turtle was called after the girl on the boat whose parents saved the turtle
Nature Trust – FEE Malta is at the moment raising awareness on the rescue of injured turtles in order to reduce complications leading to sometime death. In its campaign – It is appealing to the public that come across an injured turtle, especially those with fishing lines, to never pull the line or attempt to cut the line – but leave this operation in the hands of the Vets. A common mistake of animal well wishers is they pull at lines to cut lose – at times causing internal organs or tissue to tear inside the turtle which often leads to death a few days later. Furthermore entangled lines could be holding a blood clot and, that when the lines are removed, it could also cause death.

NTM spokesperson said that – In many cases of death turtles we come across, the necropsy shows that there were torn intestines or stomach tears. This would have been caused by line pulling – at times by people who think they bare helping the poor animal. It is so sad to see such marine reptiles dying because of a simple mistake often done by those who try to save it.

The organisation also appeals to well wishing fishermen who at times cut turtles lose off long lines, to cut line only some 15 cms away from the mouth and not longer,. In this way if turtle ingests line or is recovered, the vets do not have the challenge to try and get meters of fishing line out of the turtle. This too at times is the cause of deaths. The 15 Cms allows the Vet to follow the line in with the endoscope and then be able to remove the hook.
Turtles have been on our planet for 200 million years – well before humans appeared. Today this magnificent animal is in danger of extinction due to pollution, marine debris, by catch fishing and climate change -all human activities.
Anyone finding an injured marine turtle can call Nature Trust Emergency Number 99999505 or the Environment Authorities on 99210404 or Animal Welfare Department.
NTM is also raising funds to continue its work with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. The NGO depends on donations and sponsors and to date does not get any financial support from the Government. Each turtle can cost the NGO hundreds of Euros. Therefore it would like to thank the latest sponsors Mr Green and Oil Tanking Malta Ltd who over the last year helped us finacially
Thanks also go to the Armed Forces, the Police. Animal Welfare, ERA, The Malta Aquaculture Research Centre, the Malta Tourism Authority and the Mellieha LC for their Support. (Photo Ms J Fenton – NTM Volunteer)

Press Release : 22 July 2017

Press Release:

Nature Trust – FEE Malta seriously concerned about further sprawl in ODZ and suggest immediate remedial strategy: what is taken must be replaced elsewhere

Nature Trust – FEE Malta is seriously alarmed at the way ODZ sprawl is officially being rubberstamped by the Planning Authority through various legal loopholes and calls on the Minister for the Environment together with the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Planning Authority to take active and immediate remedial legal compensatory steps in this regard.  Nature Trust (Malta) is also appealing to the Commissioner for Environment and Planning within the Ombudsman Office to air his concerns about this ongoing unsustainable onslaught.

Over the past few decades, land from ODZ has been systematically wiped off to be built for large projects as well as smaller urban sprawl in ODZ when abandoned farmhouses are being converted into plush residences often including a pool. This gangrenous invasion of development in ODZ must be stemmed immediately.

In the context of the limited land area of our islands and the fact that a third is already developed (far exceeding the EU average land cover of less than 10%) Nature Trust proposes that land elsewhere which has been committed but still found in ODZ or virgin land within schemes must be reinstated and designated as ODZ.

Examples of such areas include committed areas in Wied Ghomor (disused quarry and pig farm), the land next to the Ghar Gerduf archaeological remains in Kercem and the virgin land over which the new Chiswick School (PA 5424/17 – submission deadline 28th August) is being proposed in Pembroke. Wied Ghomor is a scheduled valley and the only green lung between two towns suffering intensive development and traffic congestion. The Pembroke site is public virgin land and is a buffer zone for the adjacent Natura 2000 site. This site alone covers close to 16,000 square metres. The garigue in this buffer zone should be protected at all costs as this would threaten the Nature 2000 status of the Pembroke garigue.

Just Thursday’s vote in favour alone saw the combined loss of a total of nearly 8000 square meters to a fuel station and an old people’s home in an ODZ. All this for a mere €100,000 euro planning gain. Such development is permanently denying our children and the generations to come the right to enjoy open land more so when such greenlighting is often a precedent for further ODZ take up, consequential road infrastructure and noise, air and light pollution.

Nature Trust appeals to the public to send their representation against another ODZ application for another old people’s home less than 150 meters away from the approved old people’s home in Naxxar (l/o Gharghur) which covers another 2000 square metres. (PA 5041/17 – deadline for submissions of objections 28th July).

Nature Trust reiterates that an exercise in calculating the land being taken up in ODZ per annum is prepared and this would be compensated through annual revision of land within schemes including those introduced in the 2006 rationalization scheme, by removing them from such schemes, together with the reinstatement to natural status of committed land in ODZ after proper expropriation where necessary.

Comino Statement

In a statement, Nature Trust (Malta) praised the work done on Comino by the Environment and Resources Authority and Parks Department . The protection of sand dunes, cleaning up of the area and the removal of alien species were crucial in maintaining the island’s diverse habitats and rich biodiversity.

One hopes that such momentum is maintained, and other sites in the Maltese Islands receive the same treatment and effort as Comino for present and future generations to enjoy. Nature Trust (Malta) also appeals to the public for help in keeping the Maltese countryside clean and free from alien species by not littering and not releasing unwanted pets or ornamental plants to the wild.

Blue Flag Season Starts today

The Blue Flag Season in Malta starts today up to the 15 September 2017

The beaches that this year have the Blue Flag status are

Fond Ghadir Beach – Sliema

St George’s Beach – Paceville, St Julians

The Med bar and the Reef Club – Westin Dragonara Resort, St Julian’s

Qawra Point – Qawra, St Paul’s Bay

Bugibba Perched Beach – Bugibba, St Paul’s Bay

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay – Mgarr

Golden Sands Bay – Mellieha

Mellieha Bay (Ghadira), Mellieha

Islands Edge beach, Paradise Bay Hotel, Cirkewwa Mellieha

Ramla il Hamra bay – Xaghra, Gozo

Hondoq ir -Rummien Bay, Qala, Gozo

Marsalforn Bay – Marsalforn Gozo

Good luck to all beach managers for this season.

Reports can be made on info@naturetrustmalta.org