Confusion reigns over Qala’s trees, what is the true story?

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Confusion reigns over Qala’s trees, what is the true story?Readers Letter – “Confusion reigns in Qala concerning the possible removal of all trees adorning the church square. A Facebook comment said a permit had already been obtained to remove the palm trees, and it was hoped a permit to remove the other 32 trees would be forthcoming.

However, the development notice says: ‘To upgrade the square with new pavements and street furniture.’ making no reference to the removal of any trees, including the palms.

Root damage and bird droppings are the main reasons given, but these couldn’t down the trees in Victoria’s Independence Square, nor should they in Qala. As with both squares, root damage although present was not significant, and bird droppings can be mitigated by constructing simple shelters over the seats as done in Naxxar, and occasional cleaning by the council.

With the foundation already laid for the new paving, it would not be possible to uproot the trees without damaging the existing balustrade or new paving, leaving only the option of chopping them down.

Qala’s centre is an Urban Conservation Area (UCA). The Planning Authority is meant to give ‘trees within UCA’s a high priority for protection, particularly if there is a perceived threat to the trees or if the Authority considers that the removal of the trees will be detrimental to the overall visual appearance of the UCA.’

Policy RCO4 states that the Planning Authority will not permit the development of any structure or activity which would adversely affect scenic value (due to existing trees or shrubs being affected by that activity).

And Labour’s own manifesto states that ‘we continually look after the existing trees in Maltese towns and villages…..’

Despite this clear outlook to preserve existing trees, a situation has arisen whereby some people are going from door to door trying to get signatures to remove the trees; a “Save Qala’s Trees” Facebook page has been set up (’;

Father Sultana has stated the trees will not be moved from church property; and there’s a claim saying a permit exists to remove the palms and another awaited for the remaining trees!

What is the true story?”

Jane Carr,


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    43 Responses

    1. mario says: We expect a proper explanation from Qala Mayor

      “It should be of interest to all here that the DNO/181/14 which was submitted to upgrade the square with new pavements and street furniture. No removal of any trees were proposed in this notification.”

      However, it does not explain the mayor’s posting on Facebook. Could it be that the application is in, but does not yet appear on Mepa’s website?

    2. James A. Tyrrell says:

      It is obvious that certain people for whatever reason want these trees removed and it is also obvious that they are receiving support from certain members of the local council. Knowing that there is always a quid pro quo involved when things happen in Malta the question I would be asking is why is the Mayor pushing for their removal and what’s in it for him? As Father Sultana has stated these trees are on church property and will not be removed, so is the Mayor willing to take on the church in Qala?

    3. Annalise Falzon says:

      Funny that on same page this link comes up:

      Please note that this is an important white wagtail roost and trees should not even be pruned heavily let alone uprooted.

    4. Astrid Vella says:

      A well-researched and excellently argued letter from Jane Carr from whom we have come to expect nothing less. Well done Jane!

    5. mary camilleri says:

      Id like to ask personally what is the Mayors position on this?Thank you..

    6. Peter says:

      Thanks to Father Sultana for showing us that those trees belong to the church and the council hasn`t got a say on them . Why all this to destroy those trees should stay.

    7. Sabrina Borda says:

      It is so very strange that any Mayor elected to enhance the town s/he is bound to protect would bend over backwards to do just the opposite and deliberately aim to destroy what makes it beautiful. This brings us to question the competence, rational thinking and trust worthiness of such people in this position.

    8. George Palmer says:

      These trees make Qala Square what it is. It will be nice to see the new town square completed, but take away the trees and it will destroy the ambiance of the square. Why do ‘bean counters’ seem so intent on destroying what is beautiful and what about the birds? I suppose they will be forced into more isolation. Any decision here must be well balanced and reflect the needs of residents, nature and the future generations.

    9. Eliza says:

      Last t ime, I vacationed there, there were no trees.These trees don’t really match near the church because they look like trees near a beach. In my opinion. a surrounding garden with flowers and a water fountain would be exquisite

      • Anthoney says:

        Eliza Those trees have been there for over 25 years . Is that how long you have been away from Qala? Certainly a lot of people agree that palm trees should go and be re planted somewhere but the ficus must stay . Who`s bright idea was it to remove them?

        Here in paola we lost a lot of mature trees and we are sorry that we didn`t do enough to keep them there.

        Qala residents you were always instrumental to safe guard your village and I believe that this is going to another victory for all those that got the environment at heart

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        So Eliza you haven’t been there in 25 years yet you think you know what is best for Qala Square!

      • Mr+Brightside says:

        Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

    10. Astrid Vella says:

      Paola residents have the unhappy record of having the highest rate of hospitalisation for lung problems in the world. It has not helped that all their trees lining the main road were uprooted.

      Is this what Qala residents want for their children?

    11. Eliza says:

      yes Anthony, its been that long

    12. Carl says:

      Why hasn’t the mayor stated that the Council has not, and will not apply for permits to remove any of the trees?

    13. Carl says:

      Anthoney – why should the palm trees go? They are attractive, why should they be forgotten in the Gnien il-Familja, like all those poor olive trees?

    14. Phil Cox says:

      Trees are not an invasive species. They are good for the environment and air quality.

      We need to keep the trees. They add to the beauty of Qala.

      Removing them is just vandalism.

      We need each and every local politician to state their view so that voters will know next time there are elections.

      The council needs to make their position crystal clear on this issue which many people feel passionate about.

      Politicians can be replaced easily and are easily forgotten. Not so such beautiful trees.

      Well done to the church for resisting this vandalism.

    15. eliza portelli says:

      Yes. Mr. Tyrrell, I really do believe that a surrounding garden with flowers and a flowing
      waterfall with a white statue of the blessed Mother would be beautiful and thank you Mr. Brightside 🙂

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        ” A flowing waterfall with a white statue of the blessed Mother.”

        Yeah I can see how that would provide shade from the hot summer sun and purify the air for the locals!

    16. eliza portelli says:

      As for you, Mr. Tyrrell, immediately after I voiced my opinion that sadly British Airways had stopped flying out of London to Malta, they resumed their flights to Malta and Air Malta released two new passenger planes when I voiced my concern. Coincidence? I think not.

    17. Bertu says:


    18. eliza portelli says:

      if anyone ever removes a tree, please don’t kill it and read the article, how to uproot a tree without killing it

    19. Astrid Vella says:

      Trees should not be uprooted when they are in urban areas as residents need them to purify the air. Studies show that where there is a row of trees the rate of asthma drops significantly.

    20. Eliza says:

      Why don’t you do something to improve Hondoq? I was watching a video on youtube when a tourist turned to his girlfriend and was disaapointed when he found out that this was the beach people were bragging about. He said it looked more like a parking lot and it does with all the cars lined up. Do you have any idea about how much pollution residents of Qala are sustaining with all these cars driving back and forth on only one narrow road.

    21. eliza says:

      I think the solution for Hondoq is to limit the cars . Maybe the people can set up some sort of a service that would pick up people from the square at different times of the day and return at certain times. That way, you won’t be having cars going back and forth every second

    22. eliza says:

      Who is the mayor of Qala? Is it Clint Camilleri or Paul Buttigieg?

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        It’s Clint Camilleri, the one who wants to remove the trees from the Square for some reason! Paul Buttigieg is the Deputy Mayor and the one who has fought tirelessly for years for the benefit of the people of Qala. The one who has fought tirelessly to stop any form of unsustainable development at Hondoq, and the one who actually lives in Qala.

    23. Astrid Vella says:

      I’ll ask a different question Eliza. Who enjoys the greatest respect in Qala, because he puts the interests of residents before politics?

      • eliza says:

        Astrid, I am sorry. I wasn’t asking you that question. I hope you wern’t offended. Everytime they mention the mayor of Qala, I see both their names so I was wondering which one is the mayor

    24. Carl says:

      Well said Astrid!! Question barely needs answering – except maybe for eliza.

      So eliza, asnswer to your question – Clint Camilleri. Answer to Astrids question – Paul Buttigieg.

      • Joe gatt says:

        Carl the problem is that the current council is not the same as before and important decisions are thrown under the carpet . Everyone remember the referendum that was held against all ods which gave security for Hondoq. And today Qala is not the same .

        What has happened to Hondoq case ?? and also trees got to stay

    25. martin says:

      just read this artical and can only think it must be an April fool no one in their right mind would destroy and remove trees that give pleasure to most and are good for the eviromnent.

    26. Jack says:

      The true story is that there are no permits to uproot neither the palm trees nor the ficus hooray as stated on FB site Save Qala`s trees

    27. martin says:

      has anyone an update on the trees?

      • Carl says:

        Keep an eye on Save Qalas trees page ( they seem to have the latest news. Seems the ficus trees are safe but Mepa have given permission to chop the palm trees down. They are still trying to save the palm trees, which are supposedly causing loads of damage which they aren’t!

    28. joseph o'keeffe says:

      5 hours to chop the trees down – 50 years to get them back when you realize your mistake. what madness!!

    29. george palmer says:

      No wonder Camilleri wants the trees pulled down. He hates birds so he probably thinks evicting them into the countryside will make them more vulnerable to shotguns-his own included. What a pathetic individual. I just wonder why anyone voted for him.

    30. David says:

      If people interested in this topic use the search option and key : “It Tokk tree destruction” they will be reminded of a different angle on the question of trees, following their pruning early in 2012. There were nearly thirty comments following the post written by Mr. Tyrrell. In the course of it he wrote: “So is this just another example of Maltese tree pruning carried out by people with chainsaws who have no idea what they are doing, or is it a prelude to the trees being removed completely?”, and he called it vandalism.

      It provoked very diverse reactions which are worth reading. They include comments that the council was deliberately trying to kill off the trees in Independence Square and Main Gate Street, and that the trees and the birds that roosted in them had been around longer than taxis and tourists and that therefore their interests came first. One comment came from a foreign Gozo resident who said that she was in It Tokk when some tourists asked in horror what had happened to the denuded trees. She replied, in “embarrassment” she says, that the council had needed firewood for the winter. That was not only untrue but it was also offensive and patronising.

      Personally, as one who used to have a holiday home near the square in Qala and now lives permanently in Xaghra, I would be sorry to see the trees go. On the other hand, if benches are located under them people will have the same experience that I had – I wanted to sit down in their shade and I could not find a single seat that was not covered in bird droppings. Something of a Catch 22 situation, I fear. A council employee to clean the benches on a regular basis might answer it?

      Finally, I would ask those who alleged two years ago that the Victoria council had ignorantly ruined and probably killed the trees to look at them now, and then have the grace to admit that they may have got it wrong.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        No David, I for one didn’t get it wrong as you say. One of the things that attract tourists like myself to It Tokk are the trees especially at around 5 pm when the birds return to roost. The people who were let loose of those trees did not prune them they hacked them to pieces. We all understand that trees need pruned back from time to time but that should be carried out by properly trained workers who know what they are doing. As for benches being placed under trees did the birds do that? Trees attract birds and birds shit, that’s a fact of life. Therefore if someone decides to put a bench under a tree they must know that it is going to get covered in bird droppings, unless they are a bird brain. So should we remove the trees or the benches? Neither actually. What needs to be done is to erect a simple framework over the bench with a Perspex canopy as has been done in other parts of Gozo. The benches stay clean and the people are provided with a place to sit in the shade.

        Also my suggestion that the chainsaw hacking could have been a prelude to the trees being removed completely was based on what I was hearing from restaurant owners in the square who were calling for the trees to be removed so that they could put out a few more tables without worrying about bird droppings. The point here is that the square is usually full during the day when there are no birds in the trees. There are fewer people there in the evenings so there is no need for extra tables located under the trees.

        As for the remark regarding the cut down branches being used for firewood are you saying this does not happen? Are you saying that all these cuttings are dumped? We both know that is not the case. As with anything else in Malta if there is money to be made from something then money will be made. If the person employed to ‘prune’ the trees knows that he can sell the wood to someone with a wood burning stove then it stands to reason he is going to ‘prune’ them to within an inch of their lives!

        There are people in Gozo, some of them are even Mayors, who seem to have a total dislike for trees and it’s time they woke up to the fact that trees are necessary to the wellbeing of the people.

    31. SQT's says:

      If you check our posting on March 23rd ( you can see how Naxxar Local Council resolved the problem of bird droppings on the benches by creating shelters over them, without necessitating the trees being destroyed.

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