Parnitha recovery to be slow

Forestry experts say the ecosystems on Mount Parnitha damaged by last summer’s massive wildfires will take time to restore themselves, although about a quarter of the total 500 hectares destroyed will never recover, according to the director of Parnitha’s forestry service, Giorgos Amorgianiotis. At a recent conference on restoring the ecosystems, hosted by the Parnitha Management Agency, there were calls for quarterly inspections of the water from the mountain’s springs, particularly after rain, as recent sampling has indicated a deterioration in the water quality. Speaking at the conference, Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Costas Kiltidis announced that the mapping of forests would begin with sensitive areas, such as Attica and Halkidiki, and would be paid for by the Forestry Funds. These forestry maps would not be canceled out by the setting of forest borders, a project being funded by the European Union within the framework of the National Land Register. «In those areas where restoration is possible,» said Amorgianiotis, «the work will take time, persistence and money. Climatic conditions allowing for the growth of fir trees are borderline,» he said. «About 80 percent of the burnt areas are on shallow, rocky soil, making it very difficult for vegetation to re-establish itself.» According to a survey on the reforestation of the mountain, about 90 of a total 2,180 hectares of fir forest are to be reforested. Amorgianiotis said that there was no cause to replant lost pine trees as «nature will do that better than we can.» The head of the Parnitha Management Agency, Dimitrios Spathis, reports that the flood-prevention works undertaken after the fires have been successful, and also announced that the plant nursery at Aghia Triada is functioning once more and will boost the reforestation. The mountain’s red deer population, which was reduced by 30 after the fire, is also the subject of a special protection survey. However, he warned that the herd was damaging new growth. Meanwhile, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, who is in charge of supervising restoration work on Mt Parnitha, was not at the conference. According to some observers, his absence was because of the demonstrators gathered outside demanding a ban on planned extensions to the Mont Parnes casino.