Despite the objective necessity to make Malta greener, trees do not enjoy particularly high respect here. Every week we are presented with disquieting images of trees being uprooted and replaced with yet another concrete structure. It is time to challenge the current under appreciation of trees and to recognize their indispensible role in our everyday life. Here’s why.
Trees are living beings: To start with, trees are not mere tools for urban engineering. A tree is a living being which its own life cycle and its own right to have a place under the sun. There is an unconditional joy in planting a tree, caring for it and seeing it grow, bloom and harvesting its fruits, developing a relationship with it.
Trees are our life companions: Planting a tree is a start if a bond. As the tree grows, it encapsulates our memories as it witnesses the changes that happen in our lives. A sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable. Old trees are living monuments. They had been around since before we were born and that makes them a living testament to the history of Malta. Historical moments witnessed by these trees connect us with our collective past.
Trees give shade and improve urban environment: In an arid country like Malta, shade is the summer’s greatest luxury. While more and more open areas in Malta are being developed, we are becoming involuntary captives of air conditioned spaces. The treeless concrete prison under the scorching sun is unpleasant and unbearable to be in. Trees do not only provide shade, they also improve the quality of our urban surrounding.
Trees are essential for our health: Green areas improve the quality of air which makes them indispensable in Malta where thecars as people. We need more trees to counter the impact of the country’s busy traffic but the opposite happens – trees are uprooted to make spaces for roads. Trees filter pollutant gases, enrich air with oxygen and encourage us to spend more time outdoors. Parks, outdoor playgrounds surrounded by trees make exercising pleasant which in turn positively affects our health. Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.
Trees provide food: Malta’s climate is ideal for fruit trees. Community gardens could provide apples, figs, peaches, pomegranates, mulberries and plums. Harvesting fruits from trees essentially connects us with nature and reminds us where food comes from. It can give us a chance to appreciate simple yet precious gifts of nature.
Trees are habitats of other species: Trees are homes to other species – birds nest on them and migrating birds rest on them. Birds feed off insects and fruits growing on trees. Trees also protect our precious soil by using their roots to hold the soil together, avoiding that it gets washed down to the sea when it rains.
There are many more reasons to cherish the few existing trees in Malta and to plant many more, yet something seem to hold us from doing that. Unlike the construction industry, trees do not yield direct monetary profit – but is everything we hold dear evaluated in terms of profit?
Whenever we travel, we cannot resist admiring the natural splendors of other countries – forests, mountains, lakes and rivers. All of those are absent in Malta but we can preserve the remnants of nature which are still found in our country. Trees are one of them. Help us save the trees – for our common sake!