Sustainable development policies should exceed EU minimum requisites - Malta Independent - News Article

by Annaliza Borg

Decisions and regulations on sustainable development and the environment should not be limited to the EU minimum requisites, said Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco who is responsible for the Environment.Dr de Marco was speaking at the opening of a three-day conference, in Gozo, which started on Thursday morning and ends this evening. This is being organised by the German Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the University of Malta and the Chamber of Architects.The conference is addressing the ecological management of Mediterranean islands, with special emphasis on the ecology and sustainable development. The drawing up of a Bill on sustainable development and the drafting of a national environment policy are a testimony of the government?s commitment to strengthen the environmental aspect and protect the environment, Dr de Marco said.Maltese and Gozitan villages have unique characteristics that must be preserved for the traditional character to last. The themes being discussed during the conference reflect topics included in the government`s eco-Gozo vision, he said.Kevin Gatt, from the University of Malta, spoke about water resources in Malta.A number of strategies have been developed centrally which all correlate to the problems Malta is facing in terms of its scarce water resources, he explained.Change is not an option. However the call for action cannot be directed solely at a series of centralist interventions but also ensuring that good practices and conscious actions are mainstreamed throughout society, he pointed out.The sustainability of water resources in Malta poses a challenge to any hydrologist not least because of Malta?s climatic characteristics and its geographical position. Over the years, successive governments have sought to maximise Malta?s natural resources but have also been forced to augment available supplies through technological interventions such as desalination which constitutes nearly 55% of total water produced.This situation has in turn led to increasing pressures on groundwater not solely due to abstraction for potable water production but also through uncontrolled abstraction. This has resulted in a scenario which today leaves most of Malta?s groundwater aquifers in a poor qualitative and quantitative state in respect of the provisions of the Water Framework Directive. Malta?s natural water resources are being threatened by an estimated 11 million cubic metres of water which is being extracted over and above established levels to ensure its sustainability.Climate change scenarios, on their part, indicate that the situation can only become worse with increase mean temperatures which will contribute amongst others to increased evapotranspiration rates, changes in precipitation patterns which will bring higher intensity storms consequently lowering infiltration volumes and a possible rise in sea level which can deteriorate existing sea level aquifers.Sustainable development is based on the economic, social and environmental well-being. Concepts regarding principles of resource efficiency, polluter pays and cost recovery are a must if change is to be stimulated, Kevin Gatt said."The status quo will only further the damage that has resulted today," he noted.Scholars from the Anhalt University pointed out how preservation of the rural landscape characteristics of Gozo has become considered of strategic importance.Gozo is already affected by an emerging need for sustainability and to face the challenge to adapt to climate change uncertainties, they noted. Even though quantities can not be predicted, the likely direction of climate change over much of the Mediterranean basin has been estimated. The general tendency is decreasing rainfall with changes in the distribution patterns. The predicted increase in the mean sea level would affect the availability of water from freshwater lens, the main source of water for agriculture. The impact in the very few local freshwater habitats will probably be quite severe. Adaptation is therefore necessary to address the resulting impact.Conference attendees also studied watershed in the steep Xlendi valley.

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Exhibition on landscaping proposals - Malta Independent - News Article

An exhibition of landscaping proposals for Marsascala, prepared by some 40 students from the universities of Berlin, Anhalt and Oslo, was inaugurated yesterday by Infrastructure, Transport and Communication Minister Austin Gatt, who said the government wanted a new transport service which better linked villages.The exhibition is part of the Marsascala Transit Village project.Dr Gatt said the public transport reform intended to ease the burden on Valletta without reducing access, while allowing more direct public transport services. Marsascala was a good example of how they could have a direct route to Valletta while also having other routes to the villages around it and services from one area of Marsascala to another.The exhibition will be open for viewing at Torri ta`San Tumas in Marsascala on Saturday and Sunday between 9am and noon, and from 4 to 8pm. There will be a Landscaping Architecture in Malta seminar at the Old University Building in Valletta on Friday at 9.30am.

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Seminar on landscape architecture - Malta Independent - News Article

A seminar on landscape architecture is being held by the Chamber of Architects and Anhalt University of Germany which for the past three years has done studio work to introduce landscape architecture proposals.

The chamber said Malta`s most valuable capital, apart from its human resources, was the beautiful but very endangered landscape.

The seminar will be held at the Chamber of Commerce in Valletta tomorrow and will be addressed by the president of the German Architectural Board, Prof. Arno Schmid, a practising landscape architect who is a former president of the International Federation of Landscape Architecture.

Additionally, three landscape architects from Germany and Italy will present current projects in Europe. The third session in the afternoon will be a panel discussion with all speakers, moderated by the editor-in-chief of the two European journals for landscape architecture, TOPOS and Garten + Landschaft, Robert Schäfer.

The seminar is open to the public.

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Second exhibition of landscape architecture proposals for Gozo - Malta Independent - News Article

Thirteen international students of the Master of Landscape Architecture programme at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Germany have worked on ideas for incorporating more landscape architecture on Gozo.

Gozo Minister Giovanna Debono officially opened an exhibition of the students? first semester work at the Gozo Ministry exhibition hall yesterday.

The exhibition includes 24 large format posters and a one-hour presentation covering the areas of improving plant design as well as identifying and developing areas of points of interest for Gozo green tourism, a virtual panoramic tour of Gozo as well as a proposal for a bicycle network on Gozo.

The design suggestions look at the ecologically-sensitive areas of Dwejra and Ramla bay, the tourist areas of Marsalforn and Xlendi, the heritage sites of Ggantija and the Citadel and various aspects of Victoria.

The students, who worked under the direction of Erich Buhmann, Kathrin Leo, Anemone Beck Koh, Wolfram Kircher and Professor Robert Off, hail from various countries including Germany, India, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

Mrs Debono congratulated the students for creating designs that visualise how Gozo?s daily sights can be improved, developed and made more aesthetically pleasing while keeping the inherent rural and Mediterranean characteristics. She referred to projects that the Government, together with other stakeholders, will be implementing in areas such as Dwejra, Ggantija and the Citadel, to improve the island?s natural resources as well as the tourism product.

Mrs Debono said that exhibitions such as yesterday`s highlight the importance of the aesthetic value during different stages of any development. She expressed the hope that landscape and planning will be integrated in the island?s immediate and future development.

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