Alien plant busters are out to save Malta's ecosystem

Grow 10 Trees call for a clear strategy to remove invasive species

The invasive fountain grass

The invasive fountain grass

An environmental group is attempting to clear Malta of invasive plant species wreaking havoc in local ecosystems.

Grow 10 Trees want authorities to stop importing and planting alien and invasive species and to develop a strategy to reverse the damage done.

“It is unfortunate that emails sent in this regard to the chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and to the Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change were given minimal attention, when these represent two key institutions in whose hands the Maltese natural environment is entrusted,” the group said.

On Saturday, the group met near a watercourse in Naxxar to eradicate a patch of the deceptively beautiful fountain grass, an imported species that is rapidly spreading unchecked.

In spite of its beauty, its dense foliage and root system snuff out competing local species, with its multitude of seeds easily dispersed by the wind and storm water.

The group removed several seed-heads and packing them in bags for incineration. Volunteers also uprooted the sizeable clumps of fountain grass in the site.

Other invasive species noted by volunteers include the poisonous castor oil tree, the lead tree, Brazilian pepper tree, non-indigenous succulents and older invaders such as the cape sorrel, which has become one of the dominant flowering species in the Maltese Islands.

The ‘Grow 10 Trees’ project is for non-passive tree lovers willing to make a difference by growing and nurturing a minimum of 10 local trees. Members are encouraged to grow many more.

Tree saplings will eventually be used for afforestation efforts within the Maltese archipelago once suitable areas are earmarked with the help of the government or other NGOs.

Since its inception last May, the group has planted 100 trees in collaboration with Majjistral Park, and is preparing for another donation of around 100 trees to a government school in collaboration with the NGO WhyNot?.


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