NGOs voice concern over olive trees and their protection
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Now that the Holy Week celebrations are soon with us, Nature Trust (Malta) and the Kummissjoni Interdjocesana Ambjent (Environment Commission) would like to appeal to all churches and parishes especially to those parishes in Gozo and Malta that organise the passion processions on Good Friday to refrain from using entire olive trees in this holy event.
The olive tree is an ecologically and economically important indigenous tree which reaches maturity only after a couple of years. It provides us with an important resource: oil; besides playing an important role in our ecosystem and like other trees, contributes to improve air quality. Our Islands already suffer from a lack of such trees and cutting them down should be openly discouraged especially by the Church. We feel that such holy celebrations should not be marred with irresponsible actions that fell olive trees just for the sake of adorning processional statutes for just a few days. This waste and insensitivity towards our natural resources is not consonant with the spirit of love and respect celebrated during Holy Week and certainly sets a wrong example.
We therefore encourage those involved, to adopt more sustainable solutions and try and use single branches or other alternatives in such events. One case could be the use of synthetic olive trees that would remain year after year or potted olive trees which can then be planted by the same parish after the Holy Week celebrations are over. This could also develop into an educational and civic initiative by the same parish (and people responsible for the statute’s care) to promote environmental conservation in the locality.
We also would like to suggest that during Palm Sunday, the practice of handing out olive leaves to the faithful, will be carried out with due caution avoiding using massive amounts of such plant material.
Nature Trust (Malta) and the Kummissjoni Interdjocesana Ambjent (Environment Commission)