Will we ever be brave enough to solve the traffic problem?

It is a custom in Maltese society that once someone turns 18, then that person gets their driving licence. All young people, including many environmentalists mind you, are forced to use a car. The bus system is so terribly inefficient and slow and unreliable and….

Well you get the point. We’ve all uttered those words at some point, and probably more than once.

The thing is I don’t feel as though a bus system can ever work in Malta on its own. Buses are prone to traffic, and stopping constantly due to traffic lights, stop signs etc.

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A different system making use of either trams, metro or a monorail must be introduced as a solution to this traffic crisis. Such systems are fast and reliable.

Many forget that our first form of public transportation was the tram. However the government at the time opted to change to a system of buses in order to not  have to extend the rail network. It turned out to be a short sighted decision which doomed us to years of unreliable and slow buses.

I’ve recently had the chance to visit two different cities with different cultures and therefore different forms of transportation.

The first city I visited was Rome. Rome is a Mediterranean city and also a very large city. It is vibrant and very busy, and some might even say it is a bit chaotic. (It’s very rich culturally and the people are awesome, but that has nothing to do with the article). Rome has a bus system and a very poor metro system with only 2 lines. However, even though the metro is relatively poor, it is still very fast and reliable. This means that everyone ends up using it.

The second city is Amsterdam. This city is fun but also a very organised city, with a good bus, metro and tram system. Typically even with a reliable and fast bus system with little traffic it still took me three times more to cover the same distance compared to metro and tram.

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A different form of transportation is a must. We need another faster and more reliable option.

If a new system is to take form, then appropriate studies and a proper impact assessment should be carried out. Funding must also be found. This will take time for sure, and that’s ok. But we need to do something, as the current system is no longer feasible.

Marc’ Andrea Cassar – ADŻ Green Youth Chairperson

Green Parking

We all know what parking spaces look like; they are patches of concrete or tarmac where one can park.  However, parking spaces can be more than just a patch of bare ground.

This form of green parking includes the planting of trees between each parking space.  This is a good technique which should be implied for many parking slots across the Maltese Islands.  The first advantage over conventional parking slots is that they provide shade from the burning sun in summer.  Since trees do not only provide shade, unlike concrete or tarmac (which absorb heat), they reflect the sun’s heat.  Therefore, in addition to the shade, they also prohibit the ground from heating, leading to a cooling effect.  Wouldn’t this be great in summer?  Imagine entering your car in summer after you go for a swim and you don’t feel like you’re entering an oven!  Ideal!

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The second advantage is that trees reduce flooding.  Since bare ground leads to 100% surface runoff, this will result into flooding.  Trees can reduces surface runoff by up to 70%.  In addition, water will slowly seep and drip into the soil between each parking lot.

Finally such green parking will also create a very special benefit.  They give us the air we need to live.  Trees also absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) which is responsible for climate change.  So not only would we have a pleasant parking space, but we would also be doing something good for the environment.

These green parking spaces have a variety of advantages.  They reduce flooding, the heat island effect as well as pollution and provide us with air.  Moreover, they could also create a habitat for other species, such as roosting sites for birds.

We from ADŻ Malta Green Youth strongly encourage the expansion of this concept and we advice shopping complexes and the authorities to make use of this technology.  It does not require a lot of effort and the benefits are diverse.

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Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

Green Parking

Aħna kollha nafu kif jidru l-postijiet tal-parking; medda ta’ art magħmula mil-konkrit jew tat-tramak fejn wieħed jista jipparkja.  Madanakollu, postijiet tal-parking jistaw ikunu iżjed minn medda ta’ art.

Din il-forma ta’ ‘green’ parking tinkludi it-tħawwil ta’ siġar bejn kull spazju tal-parking.  Din hija sistema tajba li tista’ tintuża f’Malta.  L-ewwel vantaġġ ta’ din is-sistema hija li bis-saħħa tas-siġar, dawn jipprovdu d-dell fis-sajf.  Mhux biss talli is-siġar jipprovdu d-dell, imma talli, bil-kontra tal-konkrit u tarmak (li jassorbu s-sħana), dawn saħħansitra jirriflettu ir-raġġi tax-xemx.  Għalhekk, apaprti li jikkreaw id-dell, dawn ma jħallux l-art tisħon, u għalhekk dan iwassal għal effett tal-frisk.  Dan ma jkunx ta’ vantaġġ fis-sajf?  Immaġina tidħol ġewwa l-karozza fis-sajf wara li tmur sal-baħar u l-karozza ma ssibiex forn!  Ideali!

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It-tnieni vantaġġ huwa li s-siġar inaqqsu l-effett tal-għarqa.  L-art iebsa ta’ konkrit jew tarmak twassal għal-ilma li ma jistax jinxtorob u b’hekk jibqa għaddej minn fuq l-art.  Is-siġar jistaw inaqssu dan l-effet b’70%.  Madanakollu, l-ilma jkun jista’ jinżel u jinxrob bil-mod fil-ħamrija li jkun hemm bejn kull post tal-parking.

Aktar minn hekk, dawn is-sistemi ta’ ‘green’ parking joħolqu benefiċċju partikolari.  Dawn jagħtuna l-arja li neħtieġu biex ngħixu.  Madanakollu, is-siġar jassorbu l-‘carbon dioxide’ (CO2) li jwassal għat-tibdil fil-klima.  Mhux bissa talli jkollna parkeġġi isbaħ, imma talli nkunu qedin nagħmlu xi haġa tajba għall-ambjent ukoll.

Dawn l-ispazji tal-‘green’ parking għandhom ħafna vantaġġi.  Dawn inaqqsu l-effett tal-għarqa, inaqqsu s-sħana fil-karazzi, inaqqsu t-tniġġis u jagħtuna l-arja.  Apparti minn hekk, dawn jistaw iservu ta’ abitat għal speċi oħra, bħal post fejn l-għasafar jistaw jistkennu.

Aħana mil-ADŻ Malta Green Youth ninkoraġġixxu li dan il-kunċett jespandi fil-Gżejjer Maltin u nappellaw lil ‘shopping complexes’ li hawn f’pajjiżna u l-awtoritajiet biex jagħmlu użu ta’ din it-teknoloġija.  Dan ma jirrikjedix ħafna sforz u l-vantaġġi huma diversi.

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Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

17th Century Wash-House Disintegrating

Built by the Knights of St. John, the 17th Century wash-house just below the majestic fortifications of Mdina is another important monument erected by our ancestors.

A few days ago I passed from the steep road from Mdina leading to the old railway station.  Roughly half-way down the road I saw the wash-house.  I always remember this wash-house in a bad state.  A few years back some signs were put up warning the public from danger.  These are now gone.  Additionally I always noticed a MEPA permit indicating that it will be restored.  However, nothing has ever been done to protect this landmark, despite the fact that this monument has a very high cultural heritage property value as listed in the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.

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The monument suffered significant negligence over the years.  Not only does it look unpleasant with all the mould and litter, but one might also notice large fissures on the facade.  Additionally, the coats-of-arms were defaced by Napoleon.

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It is a pity that our cultural heritage is slowly disintegrating and that over the years nothing has been done to preserve it.  Moreover, it is also dangerous and poses a threat to pedestrians passing by.  Therefore we call for immediate action to be taken in order to avoid accidents, as well as to protect this beautiful monument.  The wash-house must be given priority and restored as soon as possible before it is too late.

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Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

Għajn tal-Ħasselin tas-Seklu 17 Qedha Taqa Biċċiet

Taħt is-swar tal-Imdina tinsab għajn tal-ħasselin mis-seklu 17 li nbniet mil-Kavallieri ta’ San Ġwann.

Ftit ijiem ilu għaddejt mit-triq li tagħti mil-Imdina għall-istazzjon l-antik tal-ferrovija.  F’nofs trieqti rajt din l-għajn tal-ħasselin.  Din l-għajn dejjem niftakarha f’dan l-istat dizastruż.  Ftit snin ilu tpoġġew xi sinjali biex iwissu lil pubbliku mil-periklu.  Dawn issa sparixxew.  Apparti minn hekk innutajt li kien hemm permess tal-MEPA ma’ din l-istruttura għal snin twal li jindika li dan il-bini ser jiġi restawrat.  Madanakollu, qatt ma sar xejn biex dan il-bini jiġi protett, anke jekk dan il-monument huwa imniżżel bħala wieħed ta’ valur għoli ta’ propjeta kulturali skond rapport tas-Sovrintendenza tal-Patrimonju Kulturali.

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Dan il-monument spiċċa fi stat ta’ abbandun tul is-snin.  Mhux biss li dan il-bini jidher ikrah minħabba fil-moffa u żibel, pero wieħed jista jinnota ukoll xquq mal-faċċata.  Madanakollu, l-armi tal-Kavallieri mal-faċċata ta’ din l-Għajn ġew imħassra minn Napuljun.

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Hija ħasra kbira li l-wirt kulturali tagħna qed jitmermer u li tul is-snin xejn ma sar biex dan jiġi preservat.  Aktar minn hekk, din l-istruttura hijja ukoll ta’ periklu għan-nies li jgħaddu minn ħdejn dan il-post.  Għalhekk aħna nappellaw għal azzjoni immedjata sabiex nevitaw l-inċidenti, kif ukoll biex nipproteġu dan il-monument sabiħ.  L-għajn tal-ħasselin għandha tingħata prijorita u tiġi restawrata malajr kemm jista jkun qabel ma jkun tard wisq.

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Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

It happened again!  Honey Buzzard blasted out of the skies

It happened again!  After only 2 weeks of a five month hunting season on Tuesday 14 September the first confirmed victim of illegal bird shooting was recorded; a Honey Buzzard.

However, this does not mean it was the first protected bird that was shot during this year’s season.  In fact, on the same day at least another two honey buzzards were shot down according to birdwatchers at Tal-Virtu’.  Unfortunately these incidents are not uncommon during this time of year.

Each year history repeats itself.  Sometimes the victim is a Honey Buzzard, at others it is a Black Stork.  The list of protected birds shot each year ranges from relatively common birds to vagrants.

Honey Buzzards, like all birds of prey, are protected by law in Malta.  This raptor is listed as Annexe I species in the Birds Directive making it illegal to kill them in every single country of the EU.  Moreover, birds of prey were protected in Malta some 35 years ago.

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Although illegal bird shooting is not as severe as it used to be during the 1980s and 1990s, it looks like it is impossible to experience a hunting season without illegal shooting.  This means that while a substantial number of hunters over the years have understood that these birds are protected, others think they are above the law and can shoot anything they like.  It seems like not even 35 years were enough to successfully protect such birds.  Although regulations exist, enforcement is relatively poor, although it has improved over the years.

Another key issue here is education.  Through several education campaigns by many environmental organisations awareness was raised and it looks like these were indeed successful since the younger generation is more aware of the importance of protecting such birds.  Therefore, such campaigns are necessary if we want to successfully protect these birds.

We from ADŻ Malta Green Youth condemn such criminal actions and we urge the public to report any illegal shooting to the police.  Moreover we also encourage the public to go and watch birds at several places such as Buskett in order to enjoy the beauty of bird migration.

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Reġat ġrat!  Kuċċarda tintlaqat biċ-ċomb

Reġat ġrat!  Wara biss ġimgħatejn minn ħames xhur tal-istaġun tal-kaċċa, it-Tlieta 14 ta’ Settembru, l-ewwel vittma ikkonfermata ta’ kaċċa illegali ġiet irrappurtata; kuċċarda.

Madanakollu, dan ma jfissirx li din kienet l-ewwel tajra protetta li lemħet iċ-ċomb f’dan l-istaġun.  Fil-fatt, fl-istess ġurnata dilettanti tal-għasafar irrappurtaw li xi kaċċaturi sparaw mill-inqas tnejn oħra fl-inħawi Tal-Virtu’.  Sfortunatament dawn il-każijiet m’humiex daqshekk rari f’dan iż-żmien tas-sena.

Kull sena l-istorja tirrepeti ruħa.  Xi drabi il-vittma tkun Kuċċarda, drabi oħra tkun Ċikonja Sewda.  Il-lista ta’ tajr protett li jintlaqat b’xi tir kull sena ivarja minn għasafar relattivament komuni għal għasafar rari ħafna.

Il-Kuċċard, bħal-għasafar kollha tal-priża, huma protetti f’Malta.  Din it-tajra hija mniżżla bħala speci ta’ Anness I fid-direttiva tal-għasafar u għalhekk huwa illegali li tinqatel f’kull pajjiż tal-Unjoni Ewropea.  Madanakollu, l-għasafar tal-priża ġew protetti f’pajjiżna madwar 35 sena ilu.

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Anke jekk il-kaċċa illegali m’għadiex daqshekk gravi daqs is-snin tat-tmeninijiet u d-disgħajnijiet, jidher li huwa impossibli li jkun hawn staġun tal-kaċċa mingħir kaċċa illegali.  Dan ifisser li filwaqt li numru sostanzjali ta’ kaċċaturi tul is-snin fhemu li dawn l-għasafar huma protetti, oħrajn jaħsbu li qedin fuq il-liġi u li jistaw jagħmlu li jridu u jisparaw fuq kollox.  Jidher li anke 35 sena ma kienx biż-żejjed biex dawn l-għasafar jiġu protetti kif suppost.  Anke jekk il-liġi teżisti, l-infurzar għadu relattivament fqir, anke jekk dan mar għal-aħjar tul is-snin.

Kwusjoni oħra hawnhekk hija l-edukazzjoni.  Bis-saħħa ta’ ħafna kampanji edukattivi minn għaqdiet ambjentali, illum hawn ħafna iżjed kuxjenza fuq kemm huwa importanti li nipproteġu dawn l-għasafar.  Dan jidher li kien suċċess partikolarment fil-ġenerazzjoni taż-żgħażagħ għax ħafna huma dawk li jafu bl-importanza tal-konservazzjoni tal-għasafar.  Għalhekk dawn il-kampanji huma neċessarji jekk verament irridu nipproteġu dawn l-għasafar.

Aħna mil-ADŻ Malta Green Youth nikkundannaw azzjonijiet kriminali bħal dawn u nappellaw lil pubbliku sabiex jirrapporta kull tip ta’ kaċċa illegali lil pulizija.  Aktar minn hekk aħna nħeġġu lil pubbliku sabiex joħroġ fil-kamanja u jgawdi dan it-tajr f’ħafna postijiet bħall-Buskett u biex japprezza l-isbuħija tal-passa tal-għasafar.

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Green roofs in Malta

Conventional roofs provide little benefits to people and one can almost consider them as urban deserts.  They lead to increased flooding since concrete roofs are impermeable and this leads to more surface runoff.  Moreover, if roofs have a dark surface they absorb more heat.  In fact urban areas are considered heat islands.  This will in turn lead to more energy being used to cool such buildings, which in turn leads to more pollution.

Green roofs have a variety of advantages.  Firstly they reduce flooding.  Since green roofs consist of plants, these will absorb rainwater and therefore reduce surface water runoff.  Such a system also reduces the heat island effect which in turn also reduces energy consumption.

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A green roof also reduces pollution since it would not only reduce energy consumption leading to increased pollution but depending on the vegetation used, many plants are also able to absorb pollution.  Green roofs would increase the value of a property and could also increase the property value of nearby areas.  Additionally, green roofs also look much better.  Therefore it improves the quality of life and makes the urban environment sustainable.

In many countries green roof technology was adopted and it is becoming a trend in several states.  Malta could also benefit from this system.  Green roofs could help reduce the massive heat in buildings across our islands during the summer months.  The extensive problem of flooding we experience whenever it rains could be reduced substantially using this technology.  It would also help us reduce pollution levels which are not particularly low in Malta.

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The best plants to be used in Malta are from garrigue habitats since they have adapted to dry and windy conditions.  Government incentives could also be possible, as is the case in many countries.

Green roofs would not only lead to the above mentioned benefits, but would also help to make Malta a nicer country.

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

‘Green roofs’ f’Malta

Il-bjut kif nafuhom aħna ma tantx jipprovdu benefiċċji lin-nies.  Wieħed jista’ jikkunsidrhom bħala deżert urban.  Fix-xitwa dawn il-bjut tal-konkrit iwasslu għal żieda ta’ għarqa fit-toroq tagħna peress li l-ilma ma inxtorobx mil-konkrit.  Apparti minn hekk, bjut li għandhom saqaf skur jassorbu aktar sħana.  Fil-fatt żoni urbani huma meqjusa bħala ‘heat islands’ (iżoli tas-sħana).  Dan iwassal għal żieda ta’ enerġija li hemm bzonn sabiex tkessaħ il-bini, li jwassal għal iżjed tniġġis.

‘Green roofs’, bil-Malta bjut ħodor, għandhom ammont sostanzjali ta’ vantaġġi.  Dawn inaqqsu l-effet li naraw fix-xitwa, dak tal-għarqa.  Peress li dawn il-‘green roofs’ jikkonsistu minn pjanti, dawn jassorbu l-ilma tax-xita u għalhekk dan inaqqas l-ammont ta’ ilma li jibqa sejjer fit-toroq.  Din is-sistema anke tnaqqas l-effet tas-sħana li jwassal għal tnaqqis fil-konsum tal-enerġija.

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Dawn il-‘green roofs’ inaqsu ukoll it-tniġġis peress li mhux biss inaqqsu l-konsum tal-enerġija, imma, skond il-vegetazzjoni li tintuża, ħafna xtieli huma kapaċi ukoll li jassorbu it-tniġġis.  Il-‘green roofs’ jistaw iżidu il-valur tal-propjeta’ ukoll u jistaw iżidu l-valur tal-propjeta’ fil-madwar.  Madanakollu, il-‘green roofs’ anke jidru ħafna isbaħ.  Għalhekk, dawn iwasslu għal żieda fil-kwalita’ tal-ħajja u jagħmlu l-ambjent urban sostenibbli.

F’diversi pajjiżi, din it-teknologija qedha tintuża u qedha issir popolari ħafna.  Malta tkun tista tibbenefika ukoll minn din is-sistema.  Il-‘green roofs’ jistaw jgħinuna innaqsu is-sħana fil-bini li taħkem fis-sajf.  Il-problema ta’ għarqa fit-toroq li nesperjenzaw kull meta tagħmel ix-xita tkun tista tiġi solvuta b’din is-sistema.  Dawn jistaw jgħinuna innaqsu l-ammont ta’ tniġġis li għandna Malta.

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L-aħjar pjanti li għandhom jintużaw f’pajjiżna huma dawk li ssibhom fl-abitat tax-xagħri peress li dawn il-pjanti huma addattati għal kundizzjonijiet ta’ sħana u ħafna riħ.  Inċentivi mil-gvern għandhom ikunu possibli ukoll, bħal ma huwa il-każ f’ħafna pajjiżi barra minn xtutna.

Dawn il-‘geen roofs’ ma jwasslux biss għal vantiġġi imsemmijha hawn fuq, iżda dawn jistaw jgħinu ukoll sabiex Malta issir pajjiż isbaħ.

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

A messy road in Santa Venera

When one passes through Triq il-Madonna tal-Karmnu, a road in Santa Venera, one would think that an earthquake has just occurred or that this road was declared a warzone.  Indeed, this road is a disaster.

As soon as one arrives at the beginning of the road, the person entering should think about it twice whether it is a good idea to enter.  This is even more so when entering by car.  Unless you have a high pickup or you really don’t like your car, it would be wiser not to enter by car.  If you wish to ruin your car, this road is perfect!  Potholes all over, dust during the dry season and mud during the wet season.

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The road has always been in this state.  It’s been years and nothing was ever done.  No tarmac, no proper parking and dust all over.  The poor residents must deal with this every day, all year round.  Moreover, some residents have also complained that due to recent road works, their garages are always blocked.  Some could not use them for weeks.

We urge the authorities to take immediate action and to complete the road as soon as possible since the dust the residents are exposed to causes severe health impacts.  It is shameful that this road has been in this state for years.  The sooner the road is finished the better.  Residents should not suffer because of this inefficiency.

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer

Triq Diżastruża ġewwa Santa Venera

Meta xi ħadd jgħaddi minn Triq il-Madonna tal-Karmnu, triq fil-lokalita’ ta’ Santa Venera, wieħed jaħseb li għadu kif seħħ terremot jew li qied fil-gwerra.  Din it-triq hija diżastruża.

Meta xi ħadd jasal fil-bidu tat-triq, aħjar jaħsibha darbtejn qabel ma jidħol fit-triq, speċjalment jekk inkun ser jidħol bil-karozza.  Sakemm m’għandekx karozza għolja jew ma tħobbx il-karozza tiegħek, aħjar ma tidħolx.  Jekk tixtieq tfarrak karozza, din it-triq hija perfetta!  Ħofor kullimkien, trabijiet fis-sajf u tajn fix-xitwa.

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It-triq minn dejjem kienet f’dan l-istat.  Ilha hekk għal snin twal u qatt ma saret.  Tarmak ma jeżistix, parking diżastru u trabijiet kull fejn tħares.  Ir-residenti jiffaċċjaw ruħhom ma dawn il-kundizzjonijiet kulljum, u dan għal snin twal.  Ċertu residenti qalu ukoll li minħabba xi xogħolijiet li saru dawn l-aħħar ġimgħat il-garaxxijiet tagħhom ma jistawx jintużaw, u biċċiet minnhom għal ġimgħat sħaħ.

Nappellaw lil awtoritajiet sabiex tittieħed azzjoni immedjata u sabiex din it-triq titlesta malajr kemm jista’ jkun.  Dan għaliex it-trabijiet iwasslu għal impatti negattivi fuq is-saħħa tar-residenti.  Hija verament tal-mistħija li din it-triq ilha f’dan l-istat għal snin twal.  Aktar ma titlesta malajr din it-triq, aħjar.  Ir-residenti m’għandhomx ibagħatu minħabba l-ineffiċenza.

Pascal Aloisio – ADŻ Malta Green Youth Publications Officer