Data shows that bee populations are dwindling more and more each year. Malta is no exception. Urbanisation leading to loss of habitat is one of the reasons for the decline. This is one of the many reasons why creating new green spaces is important.
We have embarked on numerous projects and initiatives to convert grey areas into sustainable public spaces in the heart of our towns.
We have launched the Green Your Building Scheme for residents, to green their house façades.
We have set up GreenServ, an implementation arm within WasteServ aimed at giving a new lease of life to dense urban areas, with projects planned in Ħamrun, Qormi, Żabbar and Mosta. And we have recently converted an old, abandoned landfill into an open green space in Żurrieq.
Wied Fulija, in Żurrieq had long been an eyesore and an environmental scar. This area, bigger than 12 football pitches, was used as a landfill for 42 years. It contained about 1.85 billion kilograms of waste that was piled up in two slopes. These have been stabilised without increasing the height of the landfill, compacted and capped.
By capping these slopes, we put a stop to unpleasant smells, addressed the problem of pests and blocked harmful gas emissions. The slopes were planted with shrubs to blend in with the surroundings.
A 200-metre-long paved pathway lined with trees was created for public access to the site. With a total of 43,000 trees and shrubs planted, this site has become a safe, recreational space for long walks and stunning sea views. The plants will create a habitat for bees and other pollinators by creating a new layer of biodiversity. Complementing these efforts are two collaborations with local NGOs. Together with the Malta Beekeepers’ Association, beehives were installed to host the endemic honeybee and, in another collaboration with Birdlife Malta, nest boxes were placed along the cliffs to attract Scopoli’s Shearwater to nest in the area.
We are finding innovative ways to convert high traffic zones and grey spaces into green areas to improve urban life– Aaron Farrugia
The creation of this natural ecosystem will also have a positive impact on the surrounding agriculture. A water management system was built to divert rainwater falling along the two slopes to an underground reservoir. This will save water on irrigation.
We took a holistic approach to the project, one that respects the environment, lays stress on the well-being of residents and improves the quality of life of society.
We intend to keep injecting new green spaces into dense urban areas and converting waste into resources. We intend to be more ambitious as we strongly believe that the knock-on effects for society in terms of improved health outcomes and increased productivity, and of reversing the devastating effects on wildlife, would be significant.
This is why we are keeping our electoral promise of returning to the public Sant’ Antnin, in Marsascala and Qortin, in Gozo, as open spaces. Combined with Wied Fulija, the amount of land to be given back to the public as green areas from former landfills amounts to nearly 170,000m2.
But our work will not stop here as we want to bring these benefits to our urban areas too. We are, therefore, finding innovative ways to convert high traffic zones and grey spaces into green areas to improve urban life.
The first project we announced was that of Ħamrun, where a green roof will be installed over a former parking area. The project, worth over €1.5 million, will feature different trees and shrubs that will act as much-needed filters for air pollutants and as acoustic insulation by reducing the sound of traffic.
While great attention was paid to making sure parking remains convenient, we will provide a space close to home or work where people can relax and connect with nature after a busy day.
Complementing all these projects is the work we are carrying out to implement an aesthetics policy. This will allow us to have more beautiful buildings than today.
A healthy environment is a vital backdrop to sustained economic growth. These projects are proof that the environment is truly at the core of our agenda.
In times of economic uncertainty and global insecurity, as we have experienced recently, I believe that we should be looking to make changes which provide a better quality of life for all.
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