Monday, 18 April 2011

A positive change towards active citizenship

This is an Article by Joseph Caruana (Greenhouse Executive) that was original published on The Malta Independent Environment Supplement on the 17th of April regarding the clean-ups organised by Greenhouse and S-Cubed.


Very often we go about our daily lives pretty happy with our routines and surroundings – an inevitable reality which frequently leaves us unaware of what is not always clearly visible. The initiative set up by the Science Students’ Society (S-Cubed) and Greenhouse to organise several clean-ups around the island throughout this year was precisely intended to combat this general mentality. The main aim of the campaign was to spread awareness about our environment and its importance, both from an ecological as well as an anthropological perspective. It is for this reason that the two University student organisations decided to collaborate and organise these activities. Given that the target audience was mainly (but not restricted to) University students, the activities all featured an explanation on the environmental significance of the sites visited.

The first clean-up, for example, which was organised in an area known as Il-Ballut in the limits of Marsaxlokk (which is incidentally a Natura 2000 site) included a generic, yet very insightful introduction provided by Dr. Sandro Lanfranco, a lecturer in Plant Biology on Campus. Teamwork then characterised the rest of the activity where a whole skip was filled to the brim with all kinds of waste which previously littered the area. The second event focused on L-Ahrax in Mellieha close to l-Irdum tal-Madonna.

The Conservation and Ecological Value of the Site

L-Irdum tal-Madonna, located at the extremity of l-Ahrax tal-Mellieha is also a Natura 2000 site, protected as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EC’s Birds Directive, as well as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Habitats Directive. It is also considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) and was the main site of the EU LIFE+ Yelkouan Shearwater Project, an initiative headed by BirdLife Malta in association with two other NGOs and four government authorities, aimed at reversing the decline in the Yelkouan Shearwater population of Rdum tal-Madonna and to improve the Natura 2000 site. Malta hosts an estimated 10% of the global population of Yelkouan Shearwater, with over 500 pairs breeding in the cliffs at Rdum tal-Madonna. Rats present in the area feed on the eggs and chicks of this bird and, consequently, are a threat to the population.

Understanding the problem and volunteering a solution

S-cubed and Greenhouse joint clean-up directly addresses this problem by removing waste which attracts rats to the area. This was achieved by a group of 21 volunteers who collected around 30 large garbage bags of litter. This waste largely consisted of recreational waste as the L-ahrax Tal-Mellieha is a very popular site for Maltese people to visit in the weekend and public holidays. This explains the problem of rat populations in this area as these feed on picnic leftovers and subsequently on birds nests. It is always a matter of concern for us to see that people do not respect these public spaces and unknowingly cause considerable damage to the ecology of these sites. The waste collected ranged also to construction waste which is easily disposed of in these public spaces.

To counter these practises we must start to act on them and start reporting illegal dumping in the countryside. A lot of effort has already been put in this and the authorities are slowly mobilising their resources to assist in the cleaning up of these areas. But, what ultimately matters is that through education our culture of indifference changes and that whenever someone acts irresponsibly action is taken to report the incident. If we want the environment to be protected and safeguarded its important to make sure that we are strong in enforcing its protection.

S-cubed -

Greenhouse Malta -

1 comment:

  1. Really a pretty thing you had said here. I think this will be useful at many people. So please keep update like this.

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