URBACT III. MALTA.
Title of the project: "Urban Endemic Landscaping (Urbenlands)"
Description of the project: The municipality of Sliema (Malta) is developing an URBACT project. The project is mainly focused on the challenge of urban landscaping which reconfigures the flora used in such a way that planners of the soft areas utilise the flora found in the rural areas of our countries. Public landscaping has become standardised using the same mass produced plants and flowers. The pansies I saw in Riga are the same flowers planted in landscaping in Malta. Having homogenous plants endlessly repeated in urban landscaping desensitizes residents from the variety and beauty of local endemic plant varieties. Furthermore insects such as butterflies and bees thrive on local flowers and not on alien species, therefore filling our urban landscaped areas with specimens which are not local varieties is detrimental to the whole biodiversity. We believe that tackling this issue is in line with the URBACT III Thematic Objective 6 Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency, but also related to other thematic objectives. With the urban sprawl taking over green areas we need to reconnect the nature outside our cities with the nature within our cities. Each participating City will seek to commit a percentage of the soft areas to the use of endemic plants and flowers. Growing local plants in local areas rather than importing mass produced plants can help promote local employment. Involving residents on what plants grow best in the climatic conditions of their town will help develop practical gardening skills and an appreciation of the local biodiversity. Local plants will thrive and self seed and will not need much care, while alien plants will die after a few months and will need to be replaced creating a waste of resources. We are inspired to undertake an integrated approach of this re-evaluation of landscaping practices and in order to produce an Integrated Action Plan in this sense we see the crucial: i) involvement of residents both in the remodelling of landscaped public areas and in their own habits of plant propagation; ii) better understanding among city planners, urban designers and politicians of the negative effects of using alien species and the positive impact on local biodiverity when using endemic plant varieties; iii) promotion of the economic potential among nurseries, architects/developers of buildings promulgating a ‘green building’ concept using local plant varieties. All the above will also need to be in consultation and with the involvement of NGOs, community organisations and university research and training institutes which will form an integral part of the URBACT Local Group.
Partner sought: We are looking for partners from more developed regions, however anyone interested is welcome to contact us.