Aegean islanders protest against new forest maps


Authorities and residents at Greece’s Aegean islands are fuming over the mapping of forestland, saying the process undermines investment and economic growth.

The ongoing mapping of Greece’s forests involves the delineation of areas that are entitled to special protection (such as limits on construction) under Greek law. It is set to be completed by 2020.

However, a decision by authorities to include certain areas of brushland appears to have left some islands with less than 20 percent of non-forested land.

According to the maps, more than 80 percent of the land on Patmos and Symi is designated as forest. Forestland also exceeds half of the total area on Sifnos, Kimolos, Milos and Sikinos.

A large number of objections have already been submitted.

“Our island had experienced strong tourism growth; now investors have been scared off,” Milos Mayor Gerasimos Damoulakis said, adding that real estate transactions have come to a halt.

“We are all in favor of forest maps. But we want them to solve problems, not create new ones,” he added.

“The forest map will make sure that we never see growth,” Symi Mayor Lefteris Papalodoukas said.