New legislation drafted by the Environment Ministry is paving the way for the agricultural use of certain forested areas, mainly former fields that were abandoned and turned into woodland. It will also allow construction under strict conditions.
More specifically, Kathimerini understands that the legislation will free up 690,000 hectares of woodland.
In Greece’s forest maps, afforested fields are a separate category of land. These are areas that appear in the historical aerial photographs (taken in 1945 and 1960) as rural but in the newer ones are covered by forest or vegetation. They cover 5.54% of the area in the forest maps. Current legislation designates these areas as forests, except in some cases where they can be used exclusively for agricultural cultivation.
Given the problems created in many areas by the large percentages of such fields (e.g. in Lefkada, the Cyclades, the Peloponnese), the Environment Ministry has decided to effectively abolish this category.
“Rural fields that were cultivated for decades, as evidenced by the aerial photographs of 1945, but were abandoned, mainly due to internal migration, and afforested cover about 690,000 hectares in total,” said Deputy Environment Minister Giorgos Amyras.
“With the legislation that we are preparing, in absolute harmony with the decisions of the Council of State, we aim to enable people to cultivate the land they have inherited,” he added, stressing that the ministry is seeking to motivate young farmers to use these plots of land with high-value crops, such as aromatic herbs and other plants. The new regulations, the deputy minister insisted, will overcome the bureaucracy by removing obstacles.
The relevant legislation is expected to be submitted to Parliament before the end of the year.