One of our regular contributors, Antonio Anastasi, asks while on a recent trip to ‘green’ Bavaria why Malta’s environmental vision still seems so influenced by buildings not nature.
I always look forward to getting to Germany each January. Not only because I will be spending some time with my girlfriend, but also because I simply love how beautiful a winter can be. Winters in Bavaria are cold, crisp on most days, and simply magical when under a blanket of snow.
Unfortunately, it lacks the colours we have in our winter, when nature awakens after a long sleep in the arid, sometimes breath-taking heat of our summer.
As the plane takes off from Luqa, banking to starboard side, I get a bird’s eye view of the south-west coast. The sight of that tapestry of fields in all its different hews of brown, green and yellow warms me. The colours from up high fill me with a pride and love for my country, as strong as is the nostalgia for what was, and of the little left we seem to be imminently losing.
As the plane banks to cross the country south to north sadness follows, as Malta reveals itself here as one massive, over-built construction site that diminishes the grandeur and beauty of our cultural and natural ‘inheritance.’
On arrival the other end, driving from Munich airport to Dachau, I am immediately reminded of why I love being in Bavaria. Their care and respect for the environment, both natural and architectural, sometimes makes me feel ashamed of how we manage, or don’t manage, our country.
Probably it has to do not just with how they look at things, but more to do with their vision of how to go about things. Here’s their vision:
“The Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Public Health (StMUG) was created […] on October 30, 2008. Its field and scope of work are unique in Germany. The Ministry is responsible for the sustainable protection of man and the essential prerequisites for human life: in other words for the protection of nature and landscapes, soil, water, air and climate, public health and food safety, animal health and the protection of wildlife, as well as protection against radiation and reactor safety. The State Ministry of the Environment and Public Health is Bavaria’s Ministry for Man and the Environment.
Ministry For Man and the Environment? Now there is a concept! Another concept that is poles apart from our environmental management is the Bavarian Forest National Park’s philosophy, which is “Let Nature be Nature”.
When looking at Malta’s ministry for the environment mission statement, which is more a political statement and less a mission statement, one cannot but feel that perhaps we lack the wisdom to see the environment not as something to be bent, to be removed, to be supplanted and if necessary destroyed, for the convenience of man, but rather as something to enhance our quality of life.
Just two very simple examples.
How often have trees been cut down in Maltese streets, village squares or even countryside? How many of our modern living areas or even our older towns and villages for that matter have extensive green-lung areas within them. Do not EU directives recommend these green areas and free spaces within our residential and urban environments too?
I remember around the early 80s the Malta government and an Austrian company had a solar energy research station in Marsaxlokk. Yet today, some 30 years later, I see more photovoltaic and solar energy panels in any Bavarian street than I see in the whole of Malta.
It is this lack of vision, that gives us weak environmental policies and allows us to build a state-of-the-art General Hospital without thinking of it ideally using renewable energy at the outset rather than as an afterthought.
Photo: Martin Brightwell