Fires in Greece result in record forest damage
September 2, 2007 By Pulp & Paper Canada
Athens, Greece — In only 6 days, Greece has lost more of its rapidly dwindling forestland than in any single year …
Athens, Greece — In only 6 days, Greece has lost more of its rapidly dwindling forestland than in any single year on record, the Associated Press reports. The fires have killed at least 64 people, destroyed fragile mountain ecosystems, and destroyed the rural way of life in many villages.
The European Commissions Forest Fire Information System noted that almost 184,000 hectares were wiped out between Friday, Aug. 26 and Monday, Aug. 29 alone ” this is ten times the annual average since official record keeping started in the 1950s, cited the Associated Press report. Over 250, 000 hectares of forest, olive groves, and scrub have burned so far this year.
Many of the fires have been blamed on arson, with 11 people charged so far with setting fires. The Associated Press notes that motives can range from profit, revenge against neighbours, to shepherds clearing pastures.
Director of Greeces branch of Greenpeace, Nikos Haralambidis told the Associated Press that the forestland will take decades to re-establish, and noted Olive saplings need at least 15 years before they can yield a proper crop. Approximately 20 percent of the land in Greece is covered by forest, and this has been decreasing rapidly in recent decades.
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