Forest proposals rebuffed by the EU

The European Union does not agree with Greece’s proposal to revise the country’s Constitution regarding the legal classification of forest areas, in a development that is likely to put the brakes on the controversial reform. The conservative-led government said last week that a change to Article 24 of the Constitution would help to reclassify protected forest areas and would improve outdated ministry records. EU Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas said in an article published in Sunday’s Kathimerini that there is no need to change the law. «The Constitution, as it stands, sufficiently protects the forests, while its application… makes economic growth possible while also respecting the environment,» he said. The proposal suggests that all forest areas across the country be reviewed depending on aerial photos taken in 1975. Critics have accused the government of giving in to pressure from property developers looking for a legal avenue to build on razed forestland. The government argues that the reform will help put an end to illegal building activity eating into protested woodlands. Forest fires are often blamed on arsonists believed to be acting on behalf of property developers. Data show that between 2000 and 2006, some 250,277 hectares were destroyed by fire of which 117,941 hectares was forestland.

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