Marcon Avellino and Alan Markham during the tree-planting event in Paola
Staff at the Central Bank of Malta volunteered to reduce the number of poinsettias provided by the Bank to decorate their offices over the festive season, opting instead to use the money to buy trees to be planted through Ambjent Malta.
The initiative complements the work already done by the Bank, which has been planting trees as part of its corporate social responsibility programme since 2011. The Bank had originally started its campaign by planting 20 indigenous trees at the main 34U site at Salina, with different sites benefitting each subsequent year. This was increased to 50 in 2018, to coincide with the Bank’s 50th anniversary. In 2019, the Bank decided to repeat this and will plant another 50 in yet another site.
However, the Bank’s Administration Department – which has been responsible for introducing a range of environmental initiatives at the Bank’s three premises – came up with the idea of reducing the number of poinsettias. The staff response was better than they expected and almost €1,200 was raised, which means a further 96 trees can be bought. The Bank has also agreed to match the amount, and to sponsor an equal number of trees over and above the annual 50 trees already bought.
Ambjent Malta were asked to find a suitable site for this large number of trees, and opted for the Mediterranean Garden in Paola where it hopes to eventually plant 13,000 trees and shrubs. Recently, a total of 1,500 trees and shrubs were planted, donated by other corporate sponsors as well as by individuals.
“A large number of evergreen and fast growing, low height indigenous trees – Pistacia lentiscus (lentisc in English, deru in Maltese) will be planted to create a green buffer wall along the perimeter of the site as the species grows into a thick and much branched bush”, John Neville Ebejer, a senior environment inspector at Ambjent Malta explained.
Other species planted were Cupressus sempervirens (Mediterranean Cypress, Ċipress), a large tree which again, a good buffer plant which also creates a habitat for larger birds, Pinus halepensis (Jerusalem Pine, Prinjol), a large sturdy tree with a wide green canopy, which is ideal for the creation of a green area in semi-arid habitats like Malta’s, Ceratonia siliqua (Carob, Ħarrub), Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree, Siġra ta’ Ġuda), Olea europea (Olive tree, Taż-Żebbuġ).
“The best way to combat climate change – but also to have a better standard of living – is to plant trees. Let us all stop talking and start planting”, Mr Ebejer said. Governor Dr Mario Vella explained that this initiative should be seen within the broader context of the Central Bank of Malta’s support for the idea that central banks ought to take a more active role in combatting climate change. “I fully support Christine Lagarde’s bid to make climate change a ‘mission-critical’ priority for the European Central Bank”, Dr Vella said.