Taking steps to protect mountain

Administratively, Mount Hymettus belongs to 15 different municipalities, from Paeania to Voula and from Glyfada to Aghia Paraskevi. These municipalities have founded the Hymettus Protection and Development Association. The league’s president, Vyronas Mayor Nikolaos Hardalias, told Kathimerini, «Irresponsible people wait till sunset to unload garbage and rubble on the mountain. «The problem lessens in summer because the mountain is better guarded due to the fear of fire. «The association has been working with the prefecture and the civil defense authority. It has created an operational plan with volunteers and firefighters, set up fire lookouts and cleaned up the forest.» According to Hardalias, the only way to save Hymettus is to make it accessible: «The more people there are on the mountain and the more people interested in its safety the better. Lawbreakers go to remote areas where nobody will see them by chance.» Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros believes that better policing of Hymettus is the solution. «The problem concerns all open spaces in Attica,» said Sgouros. «We made a recommendation to the Interior Ministry for the creation of a prefecture police force which would set up observation points and conduct patrols. The imposition of fines is an ineffective method. Policing Hymettus is the way to ensure the environment is protected in deeds and not just in words.» Voula Mayor Giorgos Mantessis believes in mobilizing the public: «Experience has taught us that the interest of the residents themselves is more effective than the strictest policing. For instance, the volunteer environmental protection team in our area organizes teams and patrols, and all residents of Ano Voula are on the lookout for lawbreakers.» Kaisariani Mayor Thanassis Bartsokas is of the same opinion: «The municipality has set up a volunteer forest protection system with 150 participants. So the problem is not as severe in the part of Hymettus that belongs to Kaisariani. But this system basically works in summer. As for the rest of the year? We do the best we can.»

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