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Title: General evaluation of Ta' l-Aħrax afforestation project 1969-1971
Authors: Gerada, Joseph John (1995)
Keywords: Aħrax (Mellieħa, Malta)
Afforestation -- Malta
Geomorphology -- Malta
Issue Date: 1995
Citation: Gerada, J. J. (1995). General evaluation of Ta' l-Aħrax afforestation project 1969-1971 (Diploma long essay).
Abstract: The Maltese Archipelago has sustained enormous ecological damage mainly through anthropic disturbances over the last 5,000 years. Indeed this is highlighted by the permanent loss of its sclerophyllous forest (Quercus ilex) which save for a few stands that miraculously escaped felling, all has perished. (Ballut tal-Wardija, Ballut ta' l-Imgiebah, Ta' Rapa Buskett). Without a tree canopy for protection, soil being exposed for the first time directly to the natural elements, compounded by intensive grazing of herds and fire, shall in a relatively short space of time erode away. The state of some of the local terrain todays tells the whole story. Large tracts of land lay bare of topsoil through erosion, most of which now occurs as karstic landscape. Such topography is made-up of hard Coralline limestone wherein the effect of rain over a millennia has transformed into a erroded system of depressions in which small amounts of alluvial soil accumulates where garigue communities thrive. These are the typical ground conditions expected to be dealth with at Ta' l-Ahrax (Study Area). Between 1966-1971, the area was planted with trees along with several others in different localities on the Island. These planting programms were executed when reliable information on ecology and silviculture were not available, with the result that growth performance in some left much to be desired. In Ta' L-Ahrax this is very evident, besides, other factors that have contributed to the overall poor performance, one must highlight (i) Selection of area being not adequate. (ii) The overemphasis to use fast growing trees such as Acacia sp. (no doubt due to pressure made on Agro-officials to achieve noticeable results quickly.) (iii) The complete absence of post planting maintenance program and care. In Allan's report (1969) these three recommendations were not only stated but also stressed upon; how in the course of time these have been ignored is still a mystery today. Today's concept of Afforestation and its implied use differ from one region to another. (eg Logging, Recreational, Touristic, and wildlife reserve.) At any rate one should however attempt to keep away from the perils of a pragmatic approach based on trial and error on a wide scale. In this work my sole attempt was to analyse those arboreal and geomorphological aspects of a typical 'waste' land afforestation and identify the limiting factors, such as those dictated by climate, geology, natural disturbances, etc, which always determine limits to ecosystem composition, its structure and functions.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsES - 1994-2013

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