“Forest use and forest maps will not be modified because of the wildfires,” deputy Environment Minister Socratis Famellos warned adding “on the contrary: the legal framework will be more rigorous and reafforestation will begin as soon as possible.”
The sharp massage to arsonists came during a visit of the minister to the island of Zakynthos that became victim of more than 80 fires that devastated thousands of acres of forest land this summer.
“The burned down forest area has been already mapped out via satellite data and the order to declare the area as reafforestation land has been already given, regardless of whether the burned areas are private or public,” Famellos stressed.
” I clarify that the forest areas and the forests of the country, irrespective of their public or private nature, are declared to be reforestable areas and in no way it will be allowed to modify their use,” he underlined.
Greece has been struggling for several years to complete the National Forest Mapping. The project aims to cover an area of 71,876,755 stremmas [1 stremma = 1,000 sq meters] which is 54,58% of the Greek territory.
Many wildfires are considered to have been caused by arsonists representing ‘petty interests’ with the aim to have the burned forest areas changed into construction land.
According to Famellos, by August 2017, already 94% of municipalities and communities have already submitted the necessary data for the project. Deadline is 7. September 2017.
Municipalities and land owners have to right to raise objections, eventually to pay a penalty if they cut down one or more forest trees in their yard during the last decades. The ministry uses satellite date and pictures from after 1957, Ι think.
Some local communities like on the island of Patmos staged protests last spring and objected the new forest maps, claiming that their land was included in the forest maps after they received permission to build.
Often the problem in rural areas lays with very old ownership titles, especially when the land was originally owned by local monasteries that transferred titles to municipalities.
I do not know how the state will solve these problems but at least, forests will be protected in the future.