Greek NGOs condemn contentious forest bill

Greece’s biggest environmental organizations on Monday said they would not be participating in the Environment Ministry’s public consultation for a new bill that seeks to relax restrictions on construction on public and private forestland, even those areas which are considered protected.

A joint statement released Monday said that the legislation “would be destructive for the environment and harmful to the economy and development of the country.”

The statement was signed by 10 organizations, including WWF, Greenpeace, MOm and the Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage.

According to the NGOs, many of the provisions contained in the draft legislation have no scientific basis and in fact run counter to recent decisions by the Council of State.

Under the would-be legislation, which was made available to the public for 10 days last week, hotels would be able to expand into wooded areas while new tourism developments such as golf courses and spas could also be constructed on forestland.

Evi Korakaki of the WWF’s Greek chapter told journalists in Athens Monday that the bill seeks to scrap protection of environmentally important areas covered by sparse and low vegetation.

“In that way, about 15 percent of Greek territory would no longer be protected by forest or other legislation,” she said.

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