Forest records to be updated

Efforts began yesterday to provide a complete record of how much land in Greece is taken up by forest, as some of the data is based on aerial photographs taken more than 60 years ago. The National Land Register said it was launching tenders for the completion of six studies that will provide up-to-date information about Greek forests. Current data show that forest covers 9.5 million hectares of land but officials estimate that since these records were drawn up, based on aerial photos taken in 1945 and 1960, 1.2 million hectares of forestland has disappeared through fires or encroachment. The new records will be based on more recent aerial photographs and satellite information. The Public Works and Environment Ministry said that the new data will be used to pursue encroachers and to keep authorities from simply redrawing the boundaries for what is presently considered forest land and cannot be built upon. The project will cost some -80 million and half of the outlay is being provided by European Union funds.