A forest history of the Maltese Islands to AD 1800
This work traces the Maltese Islands' forest history. In prehistoric time the flora changed accordingly to climatic oscillations. The first people of Malta were Neolithic. Their forest clearance and the drying up of the climate led to population collapse. After a period of time, the forest may have recovered allowing colonisation by a Bronze Age people. The Classical Era where Malta's vegetation was changed and arable agriculture prevailed following this. Olive industry finds dating from the Roman period reveal that olive cultivation was widespread. The Arab period saw the depopulation of the Islands allowing forest recovery to take place. The medieval period saw large areas turned to pasture. Grazing reduced the forest to much garrigue-steppe. Later land enclosure for arable agriculture prepared the way for Malta's traditional landscape with cotton cultivation becoming predominant. During the Knights of St. John period (1530-1798), Buskett and other gardens were established. Documentation reveals the survival of holm oak remnants at Buskett and Wied Hazrum. Drawings of the time depict trees near buildings. There also exists a mid-17th century description of Gozo's vegetation and a tree name list from the 18th century. In the mid-18th century a project for the widespread cultivation of white mulberries was made. In 1798 the French occupation began, although soon the Maltese rebelled. The revolt lasted two years, during which many gardens were devastated. Reconstruction took up most of the 19th century. Agricultural expansion left little space for trees in the landscape, creating a treelessness paradigm in the people's culture, although 20th century tree planting is changing this thus Malta is becoming greener.