Mt Parnitha still under threat

Just under two years after a massive fire razed hundreds of hectares of lush fir trees on Mount Parnitha, north of Athens, local conservationists and forestry authorities complain that the national park and its environs are being put at risk by visitors. According to environmental protection groups, the fringes of the national park have become cluttered with piles of garbage, often the source of forest fires. Local forestry authorities report the discovery of broken fences, set up to keep visitors out of certain areas of the national park, particularly on days that the risk of fires breaking out is particularly high. There also have been reports of locals using a local water tank, ostensibly reserved for firefighters. Another local activity condemned by conservationists is illegal hunting, which is said to be gaining ground due to the lack of inspections. «Organized professionals are killing deer and goats along the border of the national park and the regions of Oinoi and Dervenohoria with the aim of selling the meat,» Ilias Tziritis of WWF Hellas told Kathimerini. Tziritis also expressed concern about the way that funding for firefighting is distributed in Attica and elsewhere. «It is divided according to the size of the population and not the real needs of the different municipalities,» he said. As for Mount Parnitha, there are hopes that efforts to regenerate some 5,600 hectares of forestland will bear fruit. According to local forest ranger Dimitrios Spathis, there are some burned tracts that will never regenerate as the ground is too rocky. But reforestation efforts on 300 hectares of land have been successful, with 80 percent of saplings said to be thriving.