Over the weekend – estimated between Friday and Saturday night – a healthy Olive grove of 36 trees was cut down at Foresta 2000 in Mellieħa in an act of vandalism. The trees, which were donated by Din l-Art Ħelwa and planted over eight years ago are suspected to have been cut down by an electric saw, suggesting the vandalism attack had been planned.
The incident, which took place at the afforestation project which is a public site, has caused an estimated €3,600 worth of damage and follows a number of vandalisms BirdLife Malta’s Foresta 2000 Nature Reserve has suffered in the past.
In September 2004, around 100 trees were uprooted and damaged at the 104 hectare reserve together with fencing and signs. During 2006 in three separate occasions between July and September fire and arson attempts were reported at the site which was left vandalised. In May 2007, a further 3,000 trees were cut down overnight. Most recently, in April 2010, 104 trees were damaged which then led to the conviction of three hunters who on appeal were given a fine of €12,229.35 each for their involvement.
Apart from these vandalism attacks, in a separate case in April 2009 a ranger was shot and also had to be hospitalized.
Whilst the attack on the grove at the weekend was clearly an attempt to hinder BirdLife Malta’s work, it has in turn ended up as an attack on society and the common good, causing substantial damage to a site of local environmental importance which is home to a variety of diverse flora and fauna.
The police have been informed of the incident.
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