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Environmental Restoration

The Environmental Restoration Team is responsible for the planning, including carrying out of baseline vegetation surveys; implementation and maintenance of projects, involving planting of vegetation and habitat restoration. Habitat restoration projects carried out in areas that are protected and/or of high conservation value are based on the notion of restoration ecology. Indigenous vegetation is planted according to the site-specific characteristics of the area, including phytosociology, i.e existing community of plants that grow in set conditions specific to the particular site. The scope of such projects is to encourage natural regeneration in the restored sites and potential regeneration in adjacent areas and biotopes. 


Habitat restoration of abandoned agricultural fields in Comino 
 
 
Attention is also given to the enrichment of biodiversity, both through the planting of diverse indigenous, endemic and rare species but also through the introduction of pollinator species such as the planting of native flowering plants that blossom during different periods of the year


Borago officinalis; Fidloqqom; Borage 
 

Nursery


AM nursery facilities serve as the principal native plant propagation centre to produce trees and shrubs specifically for environmental rehabilitation projects. In the nursery, various species of trees, shrubs and flowers originating from the Maltese Islands or found within the Mediterranean region, are grown, and maintained. Additionally, AM nursery stores thousands of purchased trees, shrubs, and flowers, even serving as provisional plant quarantine site. 

Saplings are propagated using locally collected seeds, cuttings and/or similar propagules, and initially stored within the Ta’ Qali nursery site. Typically, propagated and purchased stock are stored within nursery facilities up to maximum of two to three years.

Routine Workflow
  • Works carried out within the nursery include:
  • Collection of plant material for propagation purposes from various sites including natural areas across Malta, Gozo and Comino (In accordance with LN 200 of 2011 Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations, all collection of plant material from within protected sites is subject to a Nature Permit issued by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA)).


: Cypressus sempervirens; Cypress; Ċipress; Seeds 
 
 
  • Propagation of various indigenous and/or endemic plant and/or rare species;
  • Maintenance of propagated and purchased plant stock i.e. repotting, irrigation and fertiliser application;
  • Manual de-weeding of wild plants which compete with propagated saplings;
  • Organising and replenishing potting material stock; including pots, compost, fertiliser, and irrigation; 
  • Maintaining and installing irrigation, agricultural plastic and shading systems when required;
  • Organising plant stock based on habitat preference, development stage and water requirements. 


Plant Propagation Process


Seeds collected from different plant species require specific conditions to germinate naturally. For example, some seeds need to be ingested and excreted by an animal to stimulate germination, whilst others may take years to germinate owing to seed dormancy. To improve germination success rate, nursery personnel replicate these conditions in an artificial setting by referring to plant propagule preparation and treatment guidelines. Increasing germination and propagation success oftentimes requires adapting pre-treatment techniques to local conditions, and trial and error experimentation.

Seed treatment processes that encourage seed germination include mechanical, thermal, and chemical treatment, or prolonged exposure to a specific environment. These processes include immersion in warm water, chemical treatment, and extended refrigeration. Growing saplings from cuttings and suckers requires understanding different vegetative growing techniques, such as plant division and layering, as well as growing habits of different plant species. To ensure sapling vitality, nursery personnel irrigate and fertilise saplings, take care to prevent physical damage as well as control pests and diseases. Other factors to consider when growing plants from seeds and cuttings include choice of growing medium, irrigation measures, provision, and quality of shading as well as organisation of plants based on stage of development. 

Trees and shrubs propagated within AM nursery facilities usually require anywhere between one to three years of maintenance before being planted, thus ensuring that the plants are strong enough to endure the outdoor transplanting process.

Nursery personnel make use of various potting substrates and materials to propagate and maintain saplings required for projects. Potting mix and propagation methods have changed over the past few years, reflecting positive outcomes of trial and error experimentation, as well as written references. 


 
 
 

Propagation Count & Managing Plant Stock


Approximately 8000 trees and shrubs, as well as over 7500 annual and seasonal flowering plants are propagated annually in AM’s nursery. Since its inception, the nursery have successfully propagated over 70 different indigenous and ornamental plant species, specifically:

  • 52 different indigenous/endemic tree and shrub species;
  • 8 different ornamental tree and shrub species;
  • 12 different perennial/seasonal flowering plant species. 


Each year the nursery also maintains thousands of purchased trees, shrubs, and seasonal flowering plants. To reduce the risk of disease transmission, purchased stock is stored within an isolated section of the nursery (referred to as a ‘quarantine area’).