A vigil has taken place at the jogging track woodland in Santa Lucija, the site of an extensive new underpass and roundabout.
The vigil organized by Save Santa Luċija Open Spaces Network (SSLOSN) and Extinction Rebellion (XR), was aimed at retaining the jogging track and showing solidarity for trees facing impending removal to make way for a new roundabout.
The process of felling the trees within the jogging track started last week and is set to continue as the intended underpass and roundabout project get underway.
Last week, the Environmental Resources Authority and Infrastructure Malta tried to reassure the public that the removal of trees would be followed by the transplanting or replacing of new ones. They stated that over 2,000 are expected to be replanted or replaced.
The removal of trees has been met by vociferous criticism from NGOs and locals concerned about the grand road scheme’s impact on Malta’s environment.
Anna Fava from extinction rebellion Malta told Newsbook.com.mt that the organisation was supporting this cause for two reasons. Firstly to do with the mass uprooting of trees given that trees help to mitigate climate change. ‘Planting saplings don’t mitigate and absorb carbon dioxide at the same rate that mature ones can,’ she explained. Her second reason was regarding the transport system.
‘Transport is the largest contributor to carbon emissions. I don’t think that the transport plan for Santa Lucija facilitates alternative transport. Cycling lanes need to be connected.’
Speaking at the vigil, SSLOSN’s representative Catherine Polidano explained to Newsbook.com.mt that the town of Santa Lucija had originally been built and planned with open spaces and gardens in mind. She said that they served a specific function and were not assigned to be built up.
‘The route of Tal-Barrani underpass should be within a development area not a green lung,’ she explained.
Nationalist politician Jason Azzopardi had been spotted at the event as had Yana Mintoff, the daughter of the former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.
Those attending the vigil were asked to bring candles and to take part in their chorus of pro-environmental songs.
Footage and Pictures: Monique Agius