NGOs irked by forest policy

Activists on Tuesday criticized a government decision to transfer the General Secretary of Forests from the Environment Ministry to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, saying the move would hit efforts to protect the environment.

A statement signed by 10 NGOs including WWF, Greenpeace, Med SOS and Arcturos said the switch will complicate the environmental licensing process and undermine efforts to create an integrated policy for Natura protected areas and forests in Greece. ?We deem that the political and administrative separation of forests from the environment is wrong and incompatible with the national effort to deal with the economic crisis,? the statement said.

Forest administration was passed to the Environment Ministry in 2009, during the tenure of Tina Birbili. Officials at the Agricultural Development Ministry suggest the reversal was aimed at bringing all primary production sectors under the same roof.