In the ongoing saga in Dingli to save the 300-year old trees that are in danger of being chopped down, residents and activists have come together to apply for an urgent Tree Protection Order, which would give legal safeguard to these ancient trees.
Some months ago, a Nature Permit was issued to chop down these trees, in order to make way for a highly controversial and dubious road right through ODZ arable land. However, a direct action by residents, farmers and activists helped put a temporary stop to the works.
Now, a hundred people have given their name to show their support for the Tree Protection Order, which would designate the area as a Tree Preservation Area, since the trees and the area where they are found meet a number of the criteria necessary in order to be given this protection, namely:
- The trees are well over 300 years old and were planted during the times of the Knights of St. John;
- They lie adjacent to ODZ arable fields and thus provide essential nutrients to the soil where crops are grown;
- Their extensive root system contributes to reducing soil erosion which again is essential for the nearby fields;
- There are numerous wells (spieri), again made hundreds of years ago, which are entwined with the tree roots under the soil which are used to this day to water the fields, and which would be in danger of irreparable damage if these trees were to be destroyed;
- They provide much needed wind cover for the nearby fields;
- The biodiversity that has evolved over the hundreds of years with the trees themselves can never be replaced by planting young trees as compensation;
- The trees are found right next to a Scheduled Grade 1 church from the 1500s and thus are culturally and historically significant;
- The trees represent one of the very few remaining wooded areas within Dingli, a rural village which is becoming increasingly urbanised. These trees provide shade, shelter, and so much more to all the people who work and live in the area.
Numerous entities have come out against the chopping of these valuable trees, including the farmers of the area, the residents of the area, the Catholic Cultural Heritage Commission (KPKK), the Interdiocesan Environment Commission (KA), as well as several NGOs who have stated that “the project goes against the aims of the Rural Policy since it threatens farmers’ livelihood.”
We ask ERA to take all of these points into consideration and to give these trees the protection that they so rightly deserve, not just for the sake of the trees, but for the sake of the farmers who work in the area, and for the residents of Dingli, so that they and future generations may continue to enjoy these trees for years to come.