NEWS

Forests require more rangers

The government needs to up the numbers of forest ranger staff and improve their online services if it is to protect the burnt forest area on Mount Parnitha from illegal building activity, the Ombudsman said yesterday. «Immediately recording the extent of the catastrophe, introducing measures to make sure the forest is regenerated and boosting forest ranger services are necessary to protect the area,» the Ombudsman said. «We have already pointed out… the lack of staffing and computer systems that create obstacles in their mission to protect the forest ecosystems,» he added. The devastating fire on the mountain, located north of Athens, has burnt some 4,200 hectares of national forest that could be taken partially taken over by illegal building activity. The government has promised that no forestland will be taken over by developers, however, legal loopholes and poor supervision by local authorities often pave the way for the illegal homes. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias kicked off procedures yesterday to help the forest grow again amid concerns regarding his appointment to head the operation, according to sources. Souflias has been criticized by senior government officials for being slow to reach decisions and for operating out of step with other ministries. The minister decided yesterday to appoint two teams that will implement plans for helping the ecosystem recover from the six-day blaze.