Thursday April 24, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
21o C
15o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Protecting Crete's ancient olive trees from being fed to the fire

By Lina Giannarou

“These trees helped our parents put clothes on our backs and send us to university. It is thanks to these trees that Crete is what it is. Its cultural development is thanks to them. Yet no one cares for these olive trees that have fed millions of people for thousands of years, that have been worshipped and adored.”

Aris Koutakis becomes emotional when he talks about the destruction he has witnessed around his home in Amari, a district of Rethymno that extends to the foothills of Mount Psiloritis and is famed for having some of Crete’s oldest olive trees.

“Organized crews that are cashing in on the fact that most of the residents are elderly come here and, without getting permission from anyone, cut down entire groves of olive trees, even trees that date back 2,000 years,” Koutakis laments. “There are also people who cut them down out of desperation because they no longer yield fruit or income. But it pains them to do so.”

The residents of Amari are powerless to stop the destruction of their iconic landscape as need and avarice take over.

“This land used to be covered in olive trees, cypresses, planes and pines. The olive trees are gradually disappearing; let’s see how long the others last,” says Koutakis, who has been trying to salvage the island’s historic trees since 2009 as part of a group formed by the Network of Cretan Cultural Associations. The network has already created a record of 1,000 ancient olive trees – aged no less than 500-1,000 years – that continue to grow on the island, while attempting to raise public awareness regarding their historical and cultural significance.

However, already under threat from rampant construction across the island, these historic trees have little chance of being saved from those who profit from the economic crisis and households’ skyrocketing demand for firewood. Add to that the fact that the network is alone in its campaign as it has not managed to secure the help of local authorities to combat the phenomenon.

“As if it weren’t enough that the authorities are not interested in helping, we have had complaints from some municipalities because we are keeping records,” says Costas Savvakis, a spokesperson for the network.

In Amari, which boasts some of Crete’s oldest and most imposing olive trees – one of its biggest has a circumference of 25 meters – illegal logging has already taken a heavy toll.

“They chop them down so that new trees can grow and be used as firewood,” says Koutakis. “I estimate that around 500 trees will be lost on Crete this winter.”

Even though the local forestry department has the jurisdiction to list flora for protection, it has failed to do so for the island’s olive trees, despite pressure from the academic community and local residents.

“Some simply don’t want to come up against the loggers, for obvious reasons,” says Koutakis. “We are all alone. Sure, some will ask why we’re bothering to save trees when everything else is going to pot, but these trees have been part of our lives for so long.”

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday December 24, 2013 (14:23)  
Syntagma spruce up points to wider turnaround for Athens
Doing the wheelchair slalom in a hostile city
Greeks in Qatar contributing to the great boom
City of Piraeus undergoes transportation transformation
A well-traveled, cerebral, modernist meteorite of an artist
At close inspection, Constantinos Parthenis’s painting “The Little Church of Cephalonia” offers a glimpse of the artist’s key creative elements. There’s the idea of sketching as a means of o...
Marina Abramovic’s homage to ‘Seven Deaths’
Marina Abramovic loves Greece and is a regular visitor to the country, which reminds the artist of her homeland, Serbia. Abramovic also loves Maria Callas, both in terms of the imprint of th...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Teen boy arrested in Thessaloniki drug bust
2. European court awards damages for ´degrading´ migrant detention conditions
3. Greece´s NBG launches 5-year bond to raise up to 750 mln euros
4. Police on high alert for Greek Cup final in Athens on Saturday
5. Samaras meeting with Dimon key to Greek return to bond markets
6. Central Athens cleanup a sign of Greece´s turnaround
more news
Today
This Week
1. Putting the party above the country
2. Strong card in debt talks
3. Three missing from cargo ship that went down off Crete
4. Central Athens cleanup a sign of Greece's turnaround
5. Samaras meeting with Dimon key to Greek return to bond markets
6. Police on high alert for Greek Cup final in Athens on Saturday
Today
This Week
1. Ground-breaking Good Friday mass signals thaw in Cyprus
2. Greece startup leaders say they can’t break jobless cycle alone
3. Mayoral candidates clash over Athens mosque plans
4. Government looks to kick on
5. Greece offers to help find Turkish F-16 lost in 1996
6. EU struggles to unpick the knot of Russia-Ukraine gas logistics
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.