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Greece: Plan under way to expedite reforestation

Seeking to bounce back from the destruction wrought by wildfires, the government has ordered the reforestation process to start immediately in areas where forests and homes coexist so as to improve the conditions for the inhabitants of those areas.

In particular, large trees will be planted immediately in settlements in Attica and Evia in order for the results to be visible in a short time.

Moreover, the cutting down of burned trees near the road network in Attica and Ancient Olympia started in earnest on Wednesday, while the other areas will follow soon.

Authorities noted that non-fire-prone species will be used to reforest these areas in order to function as a wall of defense against possible future infernos.

At the same time, a legislative act will be issued on Friday stipulating measures for fire-affected areas but also the transfer of forest services from the decentralized administrations to the General Directorate of Forests at the Environment Ministry.

The ultimate aim is to bypass bureaucracy.

“There were chronic arrhythmias and disharmonies that led us to this decision,” Deputy Environment Minister Giorgos Amyras said in comments to Kathimerini.

“In addition, some forest services can’t see the wood for the trees,” he added.

“We believe that placing these services under the Environment Ministry will combat the fragmentation of responsibilities and the forestry departments will be able to perform their work faster,” he noted, stressing that “we have already provided the maximum time for the declaration of the reforestable areas at 30 days.”

Amyras said the work that began on Wednesday to remove burned trees was on slopes and on both sides of the roads at Thrakomakedones in Attica as well as in the municipalities of Acharnes, Tatoi, Varybobi, Nea Erythraia, Dionysos and Ancient Olympia.

The ministry also decided to subsidize six wildlife treatment centers in areas affected by the fires. Among them are ANIMA, Arcturos and Alkyoni.

“It is the least we can do for the work they are doing at this time,” he said.