NEWS

Charred forest in Halkidiki reblooms

The area of Cassandra in Halkidiki, where about 5,000 hectares of forestland were ravaged in August, has shown the first signs of regeneration, regional authorities said yesterday. «Tests on four sample surfaces have revealed a 10 percent natural regeneration,» the general secretary for central Macedonia, Giorgos Tsioptras, said after an inspection of the progress of anti-erosion and anti-flood works in the area. According to authorities, who followed the advice of scientists and refrained from interfering in the forestland’s natural regeneration, last month’s heavy rainfall contributed to reviving Cassandra. A ban on grazing and hunting also helped. Now the damaged soil is sprouting pines, heather, holly, fern and other greenery. The forestry department believes the area will be fully restored within five years. Meanwhile, lumberjacks are chopping charred tree trunks into chunks for use in anti-flood barriers. Anti-flood works, due to be finished in spring, also comprise barriers made of stones and barbed wire. The felling of burned trees is necessary to ward off the risk of another fire, protect the forest from diseases and boost the regrowth of greenery, Tsioptras said. «The risk has not been totally eradicated. But we have managed well until now,» he said. One million euros have been earmarked for the regeneration of Cassandra while the forestry department has received an extra 500,000 euros.