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April 23, 2019

This spring has seen a great deal of work by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Climate Change in improving green spaces, work which is continuing.

The clearing of dense scrub on the Upper Rock, which has been ongoing for several years, has been showing excellent results, with areas that supported only a few species now replaced by open habitat which is much richer in plant and animal species and affords feeding opportunities for migrant and resident birds, including Barbary Partridges, as well as mammals such as rabbits, and our rich invertebrate fauna.  The clearing is done sensitively, ensuring that rare species are not removed, and that there is sufficient tree cover remaining to provide shelter for birds.

In a separate initiative, a total of seventeen speed ramps are being placed on roads in the Upper Rock in order to calm traffic and help reduce danger to visitors and wildlife.  Despite this, drivers are urged to take care on the Upper Rock and drive slowly.  This will both allow better appreciation of our wildlife and reduce the danger.  Young birds such as partridge chicks, or young macaques or rabbits will be the most vulnerable, as will reptiles that may be basking on the open road surfaces.

At the same time, trees have continued to be planted in different areas.  Two trees from what will be the new St Martin’s School have been relocated to allow works to proceed, while new trees have been planted in different areas, including Tamarisk trees in the area east of Little Bay, and a variety of trees donated by the Botanic Gardens in the grounds of Ocean Views, for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.  Any trees affected by construction will either be moved or, where this is not possible, replaced with twice the number.

Work has been done to protect and extend the lives of trees.  The two large Eucalyptus trees outside the Gibraltar Parliament had outgrown their planters and were being damaged as they expanded over the stone work.  These have now been removed and replaced with more tree-friendly planters.  Where trees have perished, these are replaced, with 10 having been dealt with this year in this way.

At Europa Point the new outside interpretation area continues to be regularly visited by tourists.  Planting has proceeded in this very challenging location.  The untimely Levanter storms damaged the plants on the eastern side of the magazine, something which is to be expected at this site.  However, nature is resilient, and the choice of plant species used means that many will recover and gradually cover the site with greenery.  Easterly storms in spring badly affect many natural areas of vegetation on the south and east of the Rock, and the more exposed parts of the slopes around Europa Advance and parts of the Foreshore suffer greatly when these occur.  But the natural vegetation there is resilient and returns every year.  This is slower when a new green area has been created and the plants have yet to be established.

A further new green area is in the process of being created at Europa Point.  Works are progressing at Nun’s Well where picnic tables are being placed and the area being landscaped, again with natural vegetation, and interpretation panels are being set up.  This will shortly be opened to the public.

Minister for the Environment John Cortes said, “Lots of things are happening quietly in the background to enhance our green and open areas and our enjoyment of them.  Often these go unnoticed, but they are significant.  For example, nearly 30 new trees have already been planted in different parts of Gibraltar this year, and more are planned.”