Parnitha renewal to take time

The regeneration of Mount Parnitha, a large section of which was ravaged by fire last June, will be time-consuming and expensive due to the susceptibility of the area, forestry service officials and scientists told a seminar yesterday. About a quarter of the 2,100 hectares of forest burnt on Parnitha, north of Athens, has suffered «irreversible» damage, local forest ranger Giorgos Amorgianiotis told the seminar. Also replanting in the area is «extremely difficult» due to «extreme climate conditions,» he added. Forest charts, delineating areas that deserve protection, are being drafted for «sensitive areas» like Mount Parnitha and Halkidiki, which was ravaged by fire last year, Deputy Agriculture Minister Costas Kiltidis said. The absence from yesterday’s seminar of Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias, who is overseeing restoration works on Mount Parnitha, was attributed by many to the fact that dozens of angry demonstrators had gathered outside the Athens venue to protest the planned extension of a casino on Mount Parnitha. As regards the anti-flood works that have been set up on the slopes of the mountain, they have worked «exceptionally well» following recent heavy rainfall, forestry service officials said. Reforestation is not the only concern on Parnitha, experts said. The damage to the local ecosystem has had a negative impact on ground water too. Water samples taken from sources on the mountain slopes, particularly after periods of heavy rainfall, indicate a marked degeneration in water quality, scientists said. Quarterly tests on local water has been recommended. Protection of the local wildlife in the Parnitha area is also a priority, said conservationists attending the seminar. A special study for the defense of Parnitha’s red deer – a protected species – is being drafted, they said. Some 30 red deer died in the Parnitha fire. The remaining deer have spread across Parnitha in their search for food and are more frequently spotted by local residents living at the foot of the mountain.