Works have placed Tokk trees in ‘serious jeopardy’ – FAA

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar call for action against Victoria Local Council and contractor over works that caused extensive damage to the roots of trees in Victoria, Gozo

Despite MEPA recently deciding not to issue a permit for the uprooting of Ficus trees at it-Tokk in Victoria, Gozo, environmental NGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar said that works have already caused extensive damage to their roots.

“There has been no regard for the importance of the major roots,” British arborist Ian Lansley said, upon investigating the trees. “In most cases, the root zone has been damaged to a depth of 18– 24 metres. This is serious and extensive damage.“

“The destruction of the major root system has placed these trees in serious jeopardy, not only from lack of water but also from high winds due to their instability caused by this root damage.”

FAA filed an injunction in the Gozitan courts last month to stop MEPA from allowing the trees to be uprooted. MEPA later decided against issuing such a permit.

According to FAA President Astrid Vella though, the trees have been allowed to deteriorate into such a negligent case “to cause their death, in defiance of the court hearing that they are to stay”.

“The way surface roots have been chopped off will invariably lead to the rotting of the root system,” Vella said. “One of the trees has already died through unprofessional pruning as confirmed by Ian Lansley during his site inspection. It was also confirmed the roots are not doing significant damage to services since the houses are at some distance from the trees.”

She cited a law that stipulates thatno person shall fell or attempt to fell, cut or attempt to cut, strip off or attempt to strip off the bark or leaves of, uproot or attempt to uproot… or in any way destroy or attempt to destroy, damage or attempt to damage, any tree or part thereof”

Vella called for action against the Victoria Local Council and the contractor who carried out the works “that infringe the law”.

She also questioned why MEPA hadn’t monitored the tress more closely, despite their awareness of the local council’s earlier request to uproot these trees.

“These trees reduce the rate of toxic vehicle emissions which contribute to several diseases in an area with a high rate of air pollution,” Vella said. “FAA maintains that the Victoria Local Council’s treatment of the it-Tokk trees is not only damaging the trees but is a grave disservice to the very residents it was elected to protect.”

The environmental NGO once again offered Lansley’s services to advise the council on remedies that will ensure the best possible conditions for the survival of the trees. The council, who had intended to uproot the trees and replace them with shrubs in planters, had turned down their earlier offer for Lansley’s services. 

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