Valley Road tree-pruning is ‘pure butchery’ Graffitti says

Moviment Graffitti describes pruning of trees lining Valley Road by up to 6m ‘exercise in pure and condemnable butchery’

Valley Road, Birkirkara (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Valley Road, Birkirkara (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Moviment Graffitti has called on Infrastructure Malta and minister Chris Bonett to reveal the exact reason behind a decision to prune 145 mature trees along Valley Road, between Msida and Birkirkara.

The NGO today warned that the tree-pruning will be “another example of the blatant disregard” for trees, and “an exercise in pure and condemnable butchery.”

Graffitti said it wanted assurances that any work would be conducted by qualified and competent persons, and subject to round-the-clock monitoring by the authorities, citing its “sensitive” and “delicate” nature.

Infrastructure Malta has issued a tender for the hard pruning of the trees’ canopy by up to 6m, stipulating that the canopy will be thinned out. It also requires the removal of any low-hanging branches, and of branches close to touching the nearby buildings.

In an open letter addressed to IM and transport minister Chris Bonett, Moviment Graffitti questioned the need to thin out the canopy, noting that the benefits of the practice are disputed. It shed doubt on the need to prune any of the trees by six metres, arguing that this would “utterly destroy” the canopy.

It said the light pruning of low-hanging branches and those that may be too close to the buildings on either side was understandable, but did not reflect the tender issued by Infrastructure Malta.

Moviment Graffitti pointed out that the trees provide clean air and shade in an area of heavy traffic, and counteract the pollution generated by the hundreds of vehicles passing through the road each day. “The trees are an invaluable asset to the people working in the offices and showrooms along Valley Road, not to mention to the buildings themselves, which are shielded from the smoke and dust generated by cars,” it said.

The organisation also drew attention to the large number of birds that roost in the canopy, describing the cluster of 145 trees as “an important ecosystem within the harbour region’s urban conglomeration.

Moviment Graffitti further expressed its concern that the contractor selected as the preferred bidder “does not appear to have any prior experience in managing projects of such size that require considerable sensitivity.”

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“We are concerned that the tender issued by Infrastructure Malta sought only to choose the cheapest bid, without any consideration for the bidders’ competence,” it said.

“We stress that works of such a delicate nature should be conducted with maximum care and supervision, and only to the extent that is absolutely required.

“Going further than is required to secure the integrity of buildings and safety of people would simply be another example of the blatant disregard for the important role of trees in the urban environment, and an exercise in pure and condemnable butchery.”