In the wake of this week’s horrific accident, which saw two people die after an open-air bus crashed into a tree’s low-lying branches in Żurrieq, people across the island have been taking to social media to post images of what they deem to be dangerous trees across Malta.
One of the more prominent examples (and perhaps the one that triggered the nation-wide tree hunt) is a video posted by photojournalist Lillian Chetcuti Riolo who highlighted a low-lying branch in Lija. Within a day of the video being posted, the ‘offending’ branch was removed.
Public Facebook groups such as The Salott have received countless other snaps of trees the public deems dangerous, in the hopes that action will be taken by the authorities responsible. While some make legitimate cases for low branches, others have called out what they thought was an unnecessary level of hysteria to cute down more trees.
This all culminated with a post shared earlier this morning that featured photos of a tree in Buskett, one of Malta’s only woodland areas, that was considered to be a potential health hazard. Due to sever backlash in the comments section, the post has since been removed. But others remain as the hunt for more potentially dangerous trees continues.
While the intention of looking for ways to better the island’s health and safety situation is applaudable, some people are questioning the merits of cutting down the last few trees we find across the island. Some online comments are asking why it’s always nature that gets blamed, while others have done some digging and found that issue often lands squarely on bad planning.
Taking the Lija tree as an example, one comment under Lillian’s video shares a photo from Google Maps which features the same space but with much wider pavement. The tree’s overhanging branch only became a danger in the last few months after the road was widened and the pedestrian area reduced.
A screenshot from Google Street View showing the original, wider road.