Valley road: Vigilant Graffitti welcomes ‘sensitive’ pruning

While welcoming plans NGO remains vigilant and asks authorities to exercise caution and limit the pruning the necessary minimum

As Infrastructure Malta started pruning 145 majestic ficus trees lining Valley Road, Moviment Graffitti announced that most of its its initial concerns on exercise being carried out by Infrastructure Malta have been addressed, and that works are being planned with the necessary sensitivity.

But Graffitti remains vigilant and has called on the authorities to exercise caution and limit the pruning the necessary minimum.

In a statement issued last week Graffitti had described described the pruning of trees lining Valley Road by up to 6m as an ‘exercise in pure and condemnable butchery’ while asking for a number of clarifications from the authorities on how the works will proceed.   Subsequently the authorities approached Graffitti to discuss the plans.

MaltaToday had last week published details from a  method statement prepared by Dr. Charles Grech a respected arborist and forester, showing that works will be undertaken in three phases to mitigate the impact on roosting birds.   The plan was devised following consultation meetings with residents, the B’Kara local council and Birdlife Malta.

One-third of the trees will be pruned over the next two months, another third will be pruned between July and August, while the final third will be pruned in February 2025.

The  report recognises the environmental importance of the trees, describing them as “living public resources” with the forest canopy having intrinsic value due to its shade-casting properties, which are an integral part of Birkirkara’s natural heritage.

“Plans presented by the arborist engaged by the contractor, are broadly satisfactory, and it is evident that efforts are being made to ensure that the works do not devolve into simple butchery of the 145 trees along the site”.

But the works will still involve hard pruning on trees in the immediate vicinity of residneces.   Graffitti is calling on Infrastructure Malta, to limit interventions to what is strictly necessary and expressed concern that foliage within three metres (3m) of buildings will still be pruned as part of emergency works.

 “This must be understood as a maximum and not as a general rule,” said Moviment Graffitti. “Each tree or segment must be considered on a case-by-case basis and not simply cut in a straight line the entire length of the road.”

It argued that in many instances, pruning back by 1m or 1.5m is “entirely sufficient to achieve the objectives of the project, in keeping with the principle that interventions are conducted in a sensitive manner.”