WWF warns of crisis’ impact on environment

The commitments made by Greek authorities to the country’s foreign creditors have taken environmental policies several steps backwards with cuts to funding for forest protection, understaffing at environmental services and investments that are harmful for sensitive ecosystems, conservation group WWF Hellas said on Wednesday on the occasion of World Environment Day.

“The crisis is being used as an excuse to permit everything,” WWF Hellas spokeswoman Theodota Nantsou told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency, adding that other countries struck with similar debt problems such as Spain, Italy and Portugal, were following a “similar model.”

According to Nantsou, only a tiny fraction of the subsidies Greece receives from the European Union’s so-called Green Fund go toward enforcing policies aimed at protecting the environment.

One of WWF’s major concerns are the cutbacks in funding for protection against forest fires which ravage large tracts of land every summer. According to the group, some fire engines are not even taken out as there is no money to change old tires and funding for petrol is running low.