NEWS

Attica reforestation on the cards

The Environment Ministry yesterday heralded an ambitious scheme to reforest some 10,000 hectares of burnt forestland on the outskirts of Attica. The replanting is to begin over the next few days in parts of eastern Attica that have been particularly badly scorched in successive forest fires over the years and where regeneration has been a very slow process or has not taken hold at all, Deputy Environment Minister Thanos Moraitis said. The project, which is expected to cost some 45 million euros over the next four years, will be the largest and most ambitious in Greece, Moraitis said, noting that previous initiatives have resulted in only 1,000 hectares of forestland being replanted. The reforestation will be undertaken by specialist firms while authorities are also considering using guards to protect the reforested areas from vandals and other threats. «There have been many reforestation initiatives to date but after three or four months there is rarely anything left,» the deputy minister noted. He said that the ministry was appealing to citizens and businesses to join reforestation drives, though it remained unclear what form volunteer participation would take and who would coordinate it. Moraitis noted that reforestation would begin on the «easy parts» – namely the sections of land that have been officially designated as forest. Replanting on other burnt land, the status of which has yet to be determined, would be carried out later this year when the first official «forest map» will have been drawn up. In November, Environment Minister Tina Birbili unveiled a draft law according to which any areas of forestland ravaged by fires will be immediately included in a forest map of the respective region. In Attica, the process of drawing up forest maps is to focus solely on whether the affected areas should be designated as forestland and will not extend to other matters, such as ownership of the land.