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Ambjent Malta Nursery






INTRODUCTION 

The Ta’ Qali Nursery facilities serve as the principal plant propagation centre for Ambjent Malta, within the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change.

Ambjent Malta personnel are charged with growing and maintaining various species of trees, shrubs and flowers originating from the Maltese Islands, or found growing within the Mediterranean region.

Nursery grown plants are utilised in various afforestation projects within the Maltese Islands, as well as landscaping works within Ambjent Malta managed gardens.

Once propagated trees and shrubs grow to a sufficient size, these are transferred to the Ħal Lija Storage facilities, situated within Plant Protection Directorate premises.

The process of moving mature plants and purchased plant stock ensures that the Department have sufficient floor space to safely continue propagation works.

The combined Ta’ Qali and Ħal Lija Ambjent Malta managed sites have a combined area of approx. 980m2. 



EVERYDAY WORK SCHEDULE

Typical Nursery works include but are not limited to:

•    Collection of plant material for propagation purposes from various sites across Malta, Gozo and Comino.

•    Propagation of various indigenous or endemic plant species;

•    Maintenance of propagated plants, including irrigation and fertiliser application;

•    Manual de-weeding of wild plants which compete with propagated saplings;

•    Planting of saplings within Ambjent Malta managed sites and projects;

•    Allocating space through selection and organisation of plants based on habitat preference, development stage and water requirements; 


NUMBER OF PLANTS GROWN WITHIN AMBJENT MALTA NURSERY

Within Ta’ Qali and Ħal Lija sites one can find approx. 8500 trees and 2000 shrubs, comprising of over 40 different local plant species suited to different habitats.

Trees and shrubs propagated within Ta’ Qali Nursery facilities usually require 2 to 3 years of maintenance before being planted, thus ensuring that the plants are strong enough to endure the transplanting process.

Every year the Ta’ Qali Nursery also propagates well over 5000 perennial and seasonal flowering plants, including Hoary stocks (Ġiżi), Marigolds (Suffejra tal-Ġonna), Cineraria (Ċinerarja), Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia), Limoniums (Statice) and Snapdragons (Papoċċi).


COLLECTION OF PLANT MATERIAL

The material used for the propagation of plants, including seeds and cuttings, are collected from various natural and urban areas within the Maltese Islands. 

Collection of plant material from protected sites, to be utilised for propagation purposes, requires a special permit be issued from the Environmental and Resources Authority.

Prior to collection of plant material from protected sites, the Department makes sure to acquire necessary nature permits, thereby ensuring that works are done in accordance with approved regulations, specifically LN 200 of 2011 Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations.


PROPAGATION

The difficulty involved with growing plants varies according to species, since seeds of different plants require specific conditions to germinate, whilst not all plants may be grown from cuttings.

The seed treatment process depends on specific factors required for the seeds of a particular species to germinate. 

Some seeds need to be immersed in warm water for a specific length of time; others must be scarified using an abrasive material; certain seeds require prolonged exposure to cold temperatures; whilst some seeds may require treatment with a diluted acid.

For example, conifers, including the Cypress, Aleppo Pine and Sandarac Gum Tree (Għargħar), are relatively easy to propagate, requiring immersion in warm water for 5 minutes followed by sowing in a pot or tray with wet compost.

However, other plants, such as the Lentisk and Mediterranean Buckthorn, require significant preparatory treatment before they can be sowed - specifically removal of fruit pulp; scarification of seed coat suing an abrasive material; and immersion in hot water or a diluted concentration of acid.

This is because within their respective environment, Lentisk and Buckthorn are propagated by birds which eat and digest the fruit, and later expel the seeds within their faeces.

Methods of propagation utilised by Ambjent Malta personnel, other than sowing seeds, include preparation of cuttings and air layering.

Cuttings are taken from specific sections of a mature tree, depending on species, and treated with rooting powder before being planted in a pot with wet compost.

Air layering is a more complex technique, through which a rooted sapling is grown directly on the parent tree and later delicatley removed to be planted elsewhere.


CONCLUSION

There are numerous challenge involved in managing a nursery and growing Maltese plants, such as the increasing demand for local plant stock, to be utilised in upcoming Ambjent Malta projects, Tree4U, as well as ancillary requests by educational institutions, NGOs and private entities.

That said, Ambjent Malta personnel derive great satisfaction from the work being carried out within the Ta’ Qali Nursery. One need only consider the positive impact that landscaping and maintenance works carried out by the Department are having within local protected areas, public gardens and public open spaces.

 
VISITOR INFORMATION

Ta’ Qali Nursery facilities are located within the Ta’ Qali National Park, adjacent to the Petting Farm and near Mdina Glass.

Owing to security reasons, Nursery facilities are generally not open to the public.

However, educational visits for students and academics may be arranged by contacting Ambjent Malta administration on email: ambjentmalta.mesdc@gov.mt or Nursery telephone: 2292 8102