First forest maps of Attica go on display

The first official maps delineating the boundaries of the country?s forests are on Wednesday to go on public display in three municipalities in northern and northeastern Attica which have been hard hit by wildfires in recent years.

Announcing the completion of the maps of forestland in Marathon, Palaia Pendeli and Nea Pendeli on Tuesday, Environment Minister Tina Birbili said it marked the launch of a long-delayed and crucial project aimed at curbing illegal construction on burned woodland in Attica and beyond.

?We are putting an end to years of ambiguities, delays, inconvenience and corruption,? Birbili said.

She described the initiative as an example of the bold reforms that crisis-ridden Greece is pushing through.

The next phase of finalizing the maps, which have been drawn up using aerial photographs of forestland dating between 1945 and 2008, will be incorporating any valid objections.

Landowners and local authorities will have the opportunity – as of next Monday – to submit any objections regarding the accuracy of the maps. But they will have to pay a charge ranging from 50 to 4,000 euros, depending on the size of the plot in question. The landowners? objections are to be examined by experts who will make amendments where deemed necessary.

The next set of maps – delineating forests in Volos, Ilia, Evros, Kavala and Drama – are to go up by the end of June.

It remained unclear on Tuesday what would become of properties found on forestland. It is highly unlikely that they will be demolished as there are are an estimated 500,000 nationwide. It is more likely that offenders will be fined.

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