Maps of forests stay in drawers

Contrary to popular belief, some 150,000 hectares of forestland around Greece had been recorded and mapped during the last few years but these maps have never been made public, sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The issue of what constitutes forestland and how it is recorded has come to the fore after the recent fire in eastern Attica, which burned some 350 hectares of pine forest. In the absence of any land registry records clearly depicting where the forests lie, the government has issued a set of aerial photographs to use as references in a bid to prevent people from building on burned forestland. However, forestry experts have said that 341 maps of forests around the country were drawn up between 2000 and 2003. Only one was ever made public, sources said, before the law as to what constitutes forestland was changed at the end of 2003. This law placed tighter restrictions on what could be termed a forest and was deemed to favor those looking to develop land in greener areas. It made any maps that had been drawn up obsolete. The Council of State is due to decide on the constitutionality of the law in December.