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‘No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk’: Maltese Activist Explains Why He Started Tree Growing Initiative

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Malta is often plagued by a sense of apathy; while many people are ready to complain about important issues, very few proactive efforts are carried out to tackle said issues.

Grow 10 Trees Project founder Adrian Gatt is one of the many individuals in this country who is well aware that something needs to be done for the environment, but that simply complaining won’t cut it.

“Many of us are aware that something needs to be done to save the environment, especially here in Malta, but simply crying over spilled milk has never been an option,” Gatt told Lovin Malta. 

Why are trees important?

Lovin Malta spoke with Gatt to hear more about his initiative, along with the many benefits that trees bring with them.

“Trees have many beneficial effects, they play a crucial part of the fine balance in nature, thanks to which, we are here today,” Gatt told Lovin Malta.

“Other benefits are those of air purification, absorbing greenhouse gases, providing shade and having a cooling effect on the climate, leaving a soothing effect on our psychological well being, giving us fruit, wood, providing nesting grounds for all sorts of living things… the list is well, endless,” he said. 

“Although in Malta we tend to assimilate trees with several ill effects, everyone is impressed with the beauty they provide abroad… but not on our soil,” he said.

Gatt also spoke about Malta becoming devoid of trees over the millennia, with the pattern not subsiding in an era when the majority are well aware of the benefits that trees bring about.

“Somehow we need to reverse all this, and now more than ever due to the looming global warming crisis which unfortunately has not been taken seriously by many,” he lamented. 

Before: November 2019

Before: November 2019

So what’s the idea behind G10T? 

Fueled by this same worry of Malta’s degrading environment, Gatt decided to found the Grow 10 Trees Project around four and a half years ago, and while there were no big plans for it at first, the project took off with a bang.

“As soon as it took off, we noticed a keen interest by many and the movement has steadily grown over the years to now. We have nearly 7,000 members on our Facebook group, although one must admit that only a small percentage actually get active,” he said.

“The idea behind G10T is to get members active and grow their own saplings at home, saplings which will then be used for tree-planting events in public spaces, just like the one which will be held this Sunday at Qrendi,” he explained. 

After: March 2021

After: March 2021

The G10T project has already planted saplings in a multitude of localities and spaces around the island, as an effort to continue making Malta greener.

“We have planted in several locations – public schools, public gardens, central strips – and with satisfactory success, planting around 3000 saplings to date,” he said. 

“One of the success stories we had was a joint effort with Wirt iż-Żejtun where we planted a large barren roundabout over one and a half years.  The site conditions were promising and within two years the growth rate was exceptional,” he explained.

The before and after photos shown are of the same site mentioned, contrasting the site on the day of the planting event with the same site a year and a half later.

“Saplings planted are watered for a minimum of two to three years during dry seasons, and this is normally taken care of by the particular local council or institution hosting the event,” he explained.

“The largest site we have had to date is within Wied Fulija, where we have planted some 750 saplings and more than 50 different local species, and there is still space for more,” he said.

Gatt finally appealed to readers that it does not take much to input our effort; just a little bit of time makes all the difference.

“Everyone can contribute in one way or another, and together we can make a difference. It does not take much effort, just a few minutes and you would have done your share,” he encouraged.

If you would like to help be a part of the change, you can attend the next tree planting event which is happening next Sunday at Qrendi.

You can follow the event here.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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