Mapping of forests falls short

Academics yesterday supported calls by the Ombudsman for the immediate creation of a registry of forestland to prevent Greece’s natural beauty from being destroyed by land-grabbers and illegal construction. During a conference yesterday, the citizen’s advocate highlighted the fact that even though a law was passed 30 years ago to officially chart Greece’s forests, the maps that have been drawn up so far only cover 6 percent of the country. The Ombudsman argued that a forest registry should be drawn up before the delayed land registry is completed. Official figures made public earlier this year showed that in 1945, just over 75 percent of the country was part of a forest or valley, compared to about 61 percent now. The Ombudsman fears that property developers will continue to take advantage of the lack of a forest registry to build on public land and claim the tracts as their own as long as efforts to register the land are not sped up. The watchdog also wants more forest rangers to be hired to protect the areas.

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