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Green transformation for Vatican gardens

By Sarah Mac Donald - 12 August, 2019

The Vatican’s gardens are phasing out the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers across its 23 hectares.

Speaking to L’Osservatore Romano, Rafael Tornini, head of the gardens and environment department of the Vatican’s Governorate, confirmed that the plan to totally eliminate their use is already underway.

According to Mr Tornini the move was agreed in 2015 and affirmed in 2017 with the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’.

Organic products are being introduced to eliminate parasites which are destructive to flora.

According to Mr Tornini, the aim is to strengthen the defences of the flora in the first instance, rather than combating its enemies.

“When a plant is healthy it’s able to defend itself from parasites, through better fertilisation and optimum pruning and careful reforestation.”

He also revealed that as many as 220 trees have been replanted and another 100 will be planted in the coming year.

Meanwhile, a new watering installation will save 60 per cent of the water used in the gardens compared to what was used in 2010.

These are the latest bio projects introduced by the Vatican in its policy of care for the environment.

Vatican City State announced it was ending the sale of single-use plastics. After current stocks run out, it will no longer sell any single-use plastic items within its territory.

Mr Tornini, who is also the head of Vatican City State’s waste collection, made the announcement in July.

“We have been making an effort to sort as much (plastic) as possible, and the state has limited all sales of single-use plastic,” he told ANSA.

Single-use plastic include bags, food packaging, water bottles, cutlery, straws and balloons as well as items such as wet wipes and cotton swab sticks.

The Vatican introduced a recycling programme in 2008 and since then 55 per cent of the Vatican’s municipal solid waste is sorted and recycled. But the goal is to reach EU standards of recycling 70–75 per cent of regular waste.

In 2008, the Vatican also installed a solar power system on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall.

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