Yes, tree and woodland cover was associated with air quality improvement ecosystem services (Balzan et al., 2018).
Reduced drought risk, cooling effect, urban heat island mitigation
Yes, trees and plants provide shade and reduce the urban heat island effect.
Low air quality
National data indicates exceedances of the EU limit values have been observed for both ozone and particulate matter (PM10). PM10 exceedences are attributed to the combined effect of human caused (traffic congestion and to a minor extent power generation) and environmental factors (e.g. dust from the Sahara). Ozone is a transboundary pollutant arriving in Malta from Europe. The concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) higher in traffic congested areas and may pose a significant problem in dense urban areas (ERA, 2018b).
Drought and heat risk
The Mediterranean Region is considered as a "hot-spot" of climate change, having been identified in global climate scenarios as one of the most responsive regions to climate change (Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). There is a consensus in scientific literature that average temperatures will rise across most of the Mediterranean Region, and that precipitation will decrease (Ulbrich et al. 2013; Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). Observed annual mean temperatures in the Mediterranean Region are now 1.4 °C higher than the average late-nineteenth-century levels particularly during the summer months (Cramer et al., 2018).
Low aesthetic value
Limited knowledge about biodiversity
The Malta National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) reports that the results of the Eurobarometer Surveys on Attitudes of Europeans towards Biodiversity in 2007 and 2010 indicate that 14.4% and 18% respectively of Maltese respondents had heard of the term “biodiversity” and knew what it meant. A survey commissioned by MEPA in 2011 indicates that out of the 500 persons interviewed, 24.6% of Maltese respondents heard of the term “biodiversity” and knew what it meant. In general there is a need to continue enhancing biodiversity awareness and gain more knowledge on the meaning of ‘biodiversity’ (ERA, 2018d).
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11)
Yes, tree cover and woodland habitats contribute significantly to ecosystem services capacity in urban areas, including air quality improvement and recreation (Balzan et al., 2018). The Ta' Qali park is also used as a recreational spaces by residents in neighbouring urban areas (Planning Authority, 2019).
: Balzan, M. V., Caruana, J., Zammit, A. 2018. Assessing the capacity and flow of ecosystem services in multifunctional landscapes : Evidence of a rural-urban gradient in a Mediterranean small island state. Land Use Policy, 75, 711–725. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.08.025.
Cramer, W., Guiot, J., Fader, M., Garrabou, J., Gattuso, J.-P., Iglesias, A., Lange, M.A., Lionello , P., Llasat , M.C., Paz, S., Peñuelas, J., Snoussi, M., Toreti , A., Tsimplis, M.N., Xoplaki, E. 2018. Climate change and interconnected risks to sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0299-2.
Lionello, P., Scarascia, L. 2018. The relation between climate change in the Mediterranean region and global warming. In Regional Environmental Change, 2018, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1481–1493.
Planning Authority. 2019. 2019 Partial Review of the Ta’ Qali Action Plan (2006): Change in designation for land in Vjal l-Istadium Nazzjonali. Information obtained: 2019-11-12. Available at: https://www.pa.org.mt/en/consultation-details/file.aspx?f=23896.
Ulbrich U, Xoplaki E, Dobricic S, García-Herrera R, Lionello P, Adani M, Baldi M, Barriopedro D, Coccimiglio P, Dalu G, Efthymiadis D, Gaetani M, Galati MB, Gimeno L, Goodess CM, Jones PD, Kuglitsch FG, Leckebusch GC, Luterbacher J, Marcos-Moreno M, Mariotti A, Nieto R, Nissen KM, Pettenuzzo D, Pinardi N, Pino C, Shaw AGP, Sousa P, Toreti A, Trigo RM, Tsimplis M. 2013. Past and current climate changes in the Mediterranean region. In: Navarra A, Tubiana L (eds) Regional Assessment of Climate Change in the Mediterranean. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 9–52. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5781-3_2.