NEWS

WWF calls for clear forest plan

Environmental group WWF called on the government yesterday to clearly demarcate the forest area razed in last week’s devastating fire on Mount Parnitha in order to help the ecosystem recover. The fire that burnt some 4,200 hectares of the mountain, located north of Athens, has raised concerns about the environmental impact the lost forest will have on the capital, home to some 4 million people. No corners should be cut in clearly designating the area that will be included in the national forest after the fire, said Dimitris Karavellas, head of WWF Hellas. Legal loopholes and poor government supervision often pave the way for illegal building activity in areas that were once home to forests. Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas addressed a memo to all forest rangers yesterday urging them to be on alert for any illegal building activity and instructing them to demolish any such structures. If they fail to do so, Sanidas added, the rangers could face criminal charges. Another measure proposed by the environmental group is to limit road access to the area. «We demand that the roads to the casino be closed at night. Access can be provided by the cable car,» said Karavellas. The fire on Mount Parnitha, that took six days to control, reignited yesterday and started burning parts of the forest that managed to escape last week’s blaze. A total of eight planes and two helicopters dropped water on the blaze, officials said, and were quickly able to control the fire. The government has refused to shoulder any blame for the blaze, arguing that recent high temperatures helped trigger the freak event. Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras told parliament the blaze was an «act of God» and impossible to avoid. «Authorities had a well-structured plan and their efforts were well coordinated… We will not tolerate (political) attacks mounted from the ashes of Parnitha,» he said.