Yes, tree and woodland cover was associated with air quality improvement ecosystem services (Balzan et al., 2018).
Reduced drought risk, cooling effect, urban heat island mitigation
Yes, trees and plants provide shade and reduce the urban heat island effect.
Increased quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
Yes, by increasing tree cover which would be expected to contribute to a stronger delivery of ecosystem services in urban areas (Balzan et al., 2018).
Improved aesthetic value
Low air quality
National data indicates exceedances of the EU limit values have been observed for both ozone and particulate matter (PM10). PM10 exceedences are attributed to the combined effect of human caused (traffic congestion and to a minor extent power generation) and environmental factors (e.g. dust from the Sahara). Ozone is a transboundary pollutant arriving in Malta from Europe. The concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) higher in traffic congested areas and may pose a significant problem in dense urban areas (ERA, 2018b).
Drought and heat risk
The Mediterranean Region is considered as a "hot-spot" of climate change, having been identified in global climate scenarios as one of the most responsive regions to climate change (Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). There is a consensus in scientific literature that average temperatures will rise across most of the Mediterranean Region, and that precipitation will decrease (Ulbrich et al. 2013; Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). Observed annual mean temperatures in the Mediterranean Region are now 1.4 °C higher than the average late-nineteenth-century levels particularly during the summer months (Cramer et al., 2018).
Low availability of green infrastructure
Yes, because of the lack of green areas and open spaces due to urban expansion and the growing number of people living in urban areas (ERA, 2018d). Densely populated urban areas were characterised by a lower availability of green infrastructure (Balzan et al., 2018).
Low aesthetic value
Yes, due to factors such as an accelerated spate of construction activity and rapidly growing urbananisation, a general degradation of ecosystem services and a rapid increase in economic growth.
Limited knowledge about biodiversity
The Malta National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) reports that the results of the Eurobarometer Surveys on Attitudes of Europeans towards Biodiversity in 2007 and 2010 indicate that 14.4% and 18% respectively of Maltese respondents had heard of the term “biodiversity” and knew what it meant. A survey commissioned by MEPA in 2011 indicates that out of the 500 persons interviewed, 24.6% of Maltese respondents heard of the term “biodiversity” and knew what it meant. In general there is a need to continue enhancing biodiversity awareness and gain more knowledge on the meaning of ‘biodiversity’ (ERA, 2018d).
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11)
Yes, tree cover and woodland habitats contribute significantly to ecosystem services capacity in urban areas, including air quality improvement and recreation (Balzan et al., 2018).