The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has announced that three new sites have been declared as Tree protected Areas. The sites are located in Iċ-Ċagħaq, on the outskirts of Mġarr, Wied tal-Fiddien and Ta' San Blas, both on the outskirts of Rabat, and Wied il-Faħam in Ħal-Għargħur.
Some of the trees found in the new sites include specimens of the national tree, the Sandarac Gum Tree (l-għargħar), the vertically endangered White Willow and the Mediterranean Willow (iż-żafżaf) rare Mediterranean Buckthorn (L-alaternu), carob trees ( il-ħarrub), almonds ( il-lewż), hawthorns ( iż-żagħrun) and large Mastic Trees (id-deru).
The three new sites will bring the total number of Tree Protected Areas in Malta and Gozo to 33, all of which are now mapped on MEPA’s Geographical Information System with clearly defined boundaries.
The Maltese Islands are very rich in tree species with as manay as 60 species of trees present with over two thirds of them (77 per cent) being rare or threatened due to their small number in the wild. Some of the oldest trees to be found anywhere on the Maltese islands also fall within Tree Protected Areas status, such as the ancient olive trees in Bidnija, which are estimated to be 2,000 years old, and the old holmoaks in a number of forest remnants which are centennial in some instances probably over 1,000 year old.