15th December 2022, over 100 students, teachers, learning support educators (LSEs), and members from the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of Stella Maris College Senior School, Gzira, joined the Research Innovation Unit to conduct a tree inventory of over 200 trees found within the vast premises of the College. The event was carried under the patronage of the Mayor of Gzira, Dr Conrad Borg Manché and the President of the Eastern Region, Mr Anthony Chircop. A team of project officers from the University of Malta and the Eastern Regional Council environmental manager assisted the students. Stella Maris College becomes the first school in Malta to conduct a fully-fledged tree inventory for geoscientific research, among other research fields.
Serving multiple work packages of the European Commission Horizon 2020 funded project JUSTNature, tree inventories provide salient information towards the digital twin of the locality of Gzira. Apart from geotagging information, including tree species, trunk circumference and tree measurement, tree inventories provide salient data to calculate the amount of carbon sequestration from the air, the amount of oxygen released through photosynthesis, filtration of dust (particulate matter), the shade the canopy provides, as well as the natural cooling of the site through the process of transpiration. This data is then compared with air quality data analysis to determine the number of trees needed to achieve carbon neutrality for the locality. Apart from being a mandate by 2050, carbon neutrality means balancing carbon emissions and carbon absorption from the atmosphere. In other words, if a locality produces 1000 tons of carbon per year, the locality can absorb the same amount (or higher) per year, typically through nature-based solutions (NBS), like trees and shrubs.