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July 11, 2007

Devastating forest fires in Greece

Fireoverathens There wasn't an Athens leg of the Live Earth Global Warming pop extravaganza, but if there had of been, I suspect most of the attendees would have been more worried by a spot of local warming than global warming.

The recent heatwave here has led to a devastating series of forest fires that have swept through the country, most notably practically destroying a significant amount of the National Park of Parnitha.

The Parnitha National Park was the lungs of Athens, and held a fragile fir ecosystem that will be hard to regenerate.

Of course no national disaster here is complete without a political dimension.

Oppositions party ΠΑΣΟΚ haven't, as far as I am aware, accused Prime Minister Karamanlis of setting the fires himself, but they have pretty much blamed everything else on the government, from a lack of equipment, co-ordination between agencies, and 4,000 vacant posts for firemen across the country.

For his part the PM has said it is obvious that Greece is now feeling the effects of global warming, and pledged that under his ΝΔ party, every centimeter will be re-forested, and not used for illegal building. The record of governments of both parties for enforcing these kinds of pledges is historically poor so I wouldn't hold your breath.

Here the government is slightly hindered as there is no comprehensive land registry in Greece, making it difficult to establish exactly where the forest starts and ends. There are apparently no aerial photographs that the government can use to establish the legal boundaries of the ex-forest.

I'd suggest that if the Greek military really don't have decent aerial mappings of the are around Athens, then perhaps the government could ask to borrow the ones that the Turkish military must have.

Failing that, they could always download some screenshots from Google Maps before they update it, to see how the forest used to be.

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I'd suggest you reward your country with your humour and advice.

Hi Peter, just to be clear, this was written much earlier in the summer, before the recent tragic spate of fires, which have been no matter for humour whatsoever.


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