As the charred remains of the Mount Parnitha forest attempt to recover from last year’s devastating summer fires, President Karolos Papoulias urged volunteers yesterday to continue offering help to the area, seen as being vital to Athens’s ecosystem. «This visit fills me with rage and hope. Rage for what happened and hope that we will see Parnitha as it once was,» he said yesterday on a visit to the area. «The protection of the environment is our life and the lives of our children and no one can remain untouched from this. Don’t take one step back,» he said referring to the volunteers involved in the reforestation process. Last summer’s string of destructive wildfires across Greece prompted a growing number of Greeks to take a more keen, and active, interest in the environment. Kathimerini, Skai Television and Radio along with environmentalists WWF joined forces to set up the Parnitha Observatory, which aims at monitoring the mountain and informing the public of developments. Visitors to the area mostly see barren land as many of the burnt trees have been felled to build anti-flood barriers. Lawmakers have since extended the dimensions of the mountain’s national park to 11,000 hectares from 3,800. According to officials in charge of reforestation, some 57,000 trees have been planted, as opposed to the promised 120,000. Nearly 400,000 more trees are to be planted over the next few years.