Letters: 9 November 2014

Carnage in World War I

On 5 August, 1914, the Governor of Malta, Sir Leslie Rundle, made the following announcement: “We hereby announce the outbreak of hostilities in humble trust in the guidance and protection of Divine Providence.”

At about the same time, a circular was read out in Malta’s churches, in which the Bishops assured their congregations: “We believe it with deep faith that there is a God who holds the hearts of kings and all in His hands.”

During the four years that followed these pious pronouncements, there wasn’t much evidence of Divine Providence or of “a God who holds the hearts of kings and all in His hands”.

Those terrible years, in fact, were to go down in history as yet unsurpassed for the carnage and destruction that was inflicted on Europe.

If the former Pope Benedict had witnessed the horrors of World War I, he would have asked himself the same question that he asked at Auschwitz – the question that made millions lose their faith after the Holocaust: “Where was God?”

John Guillaumier, St Julians

Disturbed night

At the beginning of the month I called the Sliema police station at least three times (at 12.30am, at 1am, and at 1.45am) on 22943351 to report a neighbour (residing at 109 Flat 2, Ponsomby Street, Gzira) who thinks that it is absolutely perfect to have a very noisy party after midnight in a residential area!

Each time I called I got the same excuse – ‘Sorry, the sergeant is busy’ – and in the meantime I and my family could not sleep because of the loud music. 

Looks like everyone gets away with it in Malta.

Jonathan Vella, Gzira

Nature Reserve Il-Ballut Ta’ Marsaxlokk in Autumn

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Il-Ballut ta’ Marsaxlokk, a nature reserve located just metres away from the power station. Now that we are in autumn, the reserve is teeming with life. Thanks to heavy rain, pools are again full of brackish water. May I remind everyone that il-Ballut is a Natura 2000 site but in practice much needs to be done! 

The reserve supports different types of vegetation, including the Sea Rush, Long-bracted Sedge. This marshland is also a habitat for a number of invertebrates as well. This is especially important for waders which feed on the mud shores. Il-Ballut is also surrounded with a good number of tamarisk trees which resist high levels of salinity.

In early autumn birds such as robins and chiffchaffs roost inside the reserve. For common sandpipers this is the ideal place. In early autumn some sandpipers visit the reserve to feed on invertebrates. The reserve is also ideal for swallows. These species feed on small flies.  

It is however disappointing that the reserve is again littered with bottles, plastic trays and other rubbish… most of it washed ashore by sea currents. It is even becoming a habit for people sunbathing on the beach to use the reserve as a rubbish dump. On one occasion I even saw a plastic chair standing between the vegetation and the surrounding fence!  

Fencing is a crucial issue if Nature Trust genuinely wants to protect this wetland. The fence is literally full of holes and there are even parts blown off. Anyone can easily trespass inside the reserve. The reserve is also used by some irresponsible hunters who use this wetland to kill protected birds. Any human disturbance is definitely not ideal for birds. 

The environment ministry should also use its human resources to clean the reserve on a regular basis. As far as I know Buskett gardens is monitored on a daily basis by P.A.R.K personnel. Why don’t we use the same example at this nature reserve as well? 

May I appeal to Nature Trust and the government to do their utmost to ensure a better future for this marshland. After all nature reserves are protected areas which support biodiversity.

James Aquilina, Via email

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