How Malta’s Urban Greening Projects Serve the Community’s Mental Health

How Malta's Urban Greening Projects Serve the Community's Mental Health

Malta’s town of Paola is the latest to develop a vertical garden as part of national urban greening efforts.

The new project will focus on an outer wall of the Corradino Correctional Facility building. The “green wall” was first announced by Aaron Farrugia, Malta’s Minister for the Environment, Climate Change, and Planning.

Ambjent Malta — a government department that replaced the Directorate for Parks, Afforestation, and Countryside Restoration in 2018 — invested €30,000 in the new development. According to Farrugia, there is ongoing work on a number of vertical gardens and urban greening projects around the country, which the government hopes will benefit both the environment and the community.

“This is being done with significant investment into urban greening, specifically in the areas where families live, work, and spend most of their time,” explained Farrugia in a press release.

The release cited a study carried out by the Intelligent Planning Consultative Forum and detailed the numerous benefits of urban greening. These include improved air quality, reduced noise pollution, and providing ecological “stepping stones” for insects and pollinators between rural and urban environments.

Projects such as the new Paola wall also help create cooler microclimates and provide an aesthetic “break” in inner-city areas. Studies show that green spaces, in general, are hugely beneficial to humans, impacting health, happiness, and promoting a feeling of connection to nature.

How Malta's Urban Greening Projects Serve the Community's Mental Health
Paola is not the first town in Malta to benefit from urban greening projects. | Infrastructure Malta.

Urban Greening in Malta

Urban greening, in particular, helps increase access to nature for those living in built-up city and town areas. In addition to Paola, thirteen local Maltese councils have benefitted from similar funding to add green spaces to existing buildings, walls, and roads. As the global population and the need for housing grows, fully utilizing urban space with vertical gardening techniques is a versatile solution.

One in-progress joint project by Infrastructure Malta and Ambjent Malta is the Marsa Ħamrun Bypass, which will be the longest vertical garden in the country. When finished, the 350-meter long wall will feature 27,600 plants. The project first began in 2018 and makes use of various “eco-friendly” and recyclable materials.

Urban and vertical gardening can also support sustainable and accessible food production. Companies such as AppHarvest are already utilizing vertical, hydroponic, and urban gardening techniques to increase people’s access to fresh produce — without additional mileage and carbon emissions. Further green innovations in buildings and urban areas are expected to continue into 2021