“Let us children plant hope in our life” – LEAF Programme
|Email item||Print item||
Ninety students from nine schools participating in the LEAF (Learning About Forests) programme planted 50 indigenous dwarf fan palm trees at Xrobb l-Ghagin Park and Sustainable Development Centre.
Some of the trees were grown from seeds by the students themselves. Other trees were jointly sponsored by local councils. The event was organised in collaboration with PARKs and the Plant Health directorates within the Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change. Minister Leo Brincat was also present for the event.
In his welcoming speech Nature Trust Malta Executive President Mr Vincent Attard, thanked the workers and officers within the respective departments for supporting schools in the LEAF programme.
He said that when the programme was introduced 3 years ago most were understandably sceptic about the success of the programme since our native forests have been receding ever since the arrival of the first inhabitants and according to the latest State of the Environment Report forest land cover stands at 1%.
Nevertheless, thanks to the interest shown by various educators and the students’ enthusiasm, the programme is now picking up fast and last year four schools were awarded the prestigious international LEAF Award.
Mr Johann Gatt, LEAF National coordinator elaborated on four key aspects that the programme tries to address based on the realities of the local scenario: preserving the last remaining pockets of native forest, instilling love for trees, making responsible choices, and planting more trees.
Mr Gatt said that each year LEAF Malta receives a number of requests from international lobby groups to join in tree planting events in a bid to enhance biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, offset carbon emissions, restore native forests and other similar noble causes.
“The Plant a Tree for Peace is one such campaign and with this event Malta will be joining 150 countries around the world to send a strong message in favour of cultural diversity and tolerance,” Mr Gatt said.
The students’ speech was however the main highlight of the event. The students outlined the main benefits of trees and through a series of pertinent pledges urged the general public to do their part, pull up their socks and start to lead by example.
Bank of Valletta staff helped in this event and planted 150 trees as part of a campaign they have at the moment to plant a large number of trees. Mr Godwin Said BOV spokesperson said “Today’s activity is an opportunity for us all to appreciate more the importance of trees and the need to continue cultivating the benefits of what the countryside has to offer.
“These 150 palm trees continue to build on the 232 Tamarisk trees which the Bank planted less than a month ago in this same park which will continue to embellish the area. BOV considers both its direct and indirect impact on the environment and this has become part of our calendar.
“We encourage the appreciation of our surroundings, starting internally within our people, instilling a sense of ownership within whilst continuing to focus on the bigger picture which is the community as a whole. We have learned along the way that little efforts are the ones that make a big difference.”
The event ended with a number of interactive learning sessions and a guided field tour. Students had the opportunity to learn about the problems pests like the red palm weevil cause to the environment and the economy in a session led by Josephine Schembri from the Plant Health Directorate.
In another session led by Mr Guido Lanfranco, founder of the NGO, students learned how our forefathers used the palm leaves to earn a living. In a hands on session Mr Neville Ebejer- Senior Environment Inspector from the PA.R.K. Directorate gave students tips on how best to grow oak trees and dwarf fan palms from seeds.
NTM’s Flora Conservation officer Mr Jeffrey Sciberras elaborated on the type of plants that one can find in the maquis community at the nature park.