Forests are thriving despite fire

The expanse of Greece’s forestland is increasing, despite the impact of last summer’s devastating wildfires, according to new research. Natural regrowth has increased by more than 25 percent in the country’s forests, compared to a rate of 18 percent in the 1950s, said Professor Spyros Dafis of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. «However strange it may seem, forests in mountain areas are becoming denser,» Dafis said. He attributed the development to the disappearance of traditional settlements and the tendency of farmers to feed their animals in stables rather than grazing them outdoors. «There is less pressure on these forests,» he said. The area of Zagorohoria, in northwestern Greece, is a good example: It was virtually bare in the 1960s and is now covered in greenery, Dakis said. The same does not apply to forestland on urban outskirts, which is dwindling due to increasing construction – both legal and illegal. «Forestland near urban areas or tourist spots has dwindled significantly as the land there is very valuable,» said Ilias Apostolides, a forestry expert.