ΑΤΗΕΝS — Adding to the loss of 300 homes, with another 1000 damaged from Greece's wildfires that swept around the country is the still uncounted toll of crops lost as farms burned, including trees producing resin on the island of Evia.
Resin is used in combination with other ingredients to create epoxy and plastic and is an essential ingredient in many manufactured goods, much of it produced on Greece's second-largest island where scores of thousands of trees burned.
In a feature, the news site Al Jazeera sent correspondents there who met farmers near the village of Ellinika in northern Evia.
They slept in shifts at the foot of the forest, as they had been doing for days to desperately protect the few remaining trees that were being engulfed as flames consumed nearly half the 1,422 square-mile island.
“I have 5,000 trees and they are all burned, I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” said Kostas, 33, whose last name was not given. He was born and raised there and said other resin farmers also have nothing left to their livelihood.
“Maybe I will have to leave the island to go to Athens, I don’t know,” he said as he watched smoke emerging from the forest. “It’s all gone.”
The fires struck at the worst possible time for them, in the middle of the resin harvesting season, known as tapping, for resin, using small plastic pouches strapped to the bark to collect it, their biggest source of income.
Resin has a variety of uses, including in plastics or even Retsina wine but now the Aleppo pine trees it once came from are smoking embers, the site said of the huge losses to the farmers.
The farmers desperately tried to fight back the flames that soared hundreds of feet in the air, using hoses and carrying backpacks of water to futilely toss on the spreading blazes, to no avail.
Evangelos Georgantzis, who heads the Resin Growers’ Association in Evia, told local media that about 800 families who were entirely dependent on the resin-growing industry in northern Evia have been affected.
“Truly what we have experienced in Evia is tragic,” he said, calling on state support for those who had lost their livelihoods as well as measures to repair the pine forest for future generations of farmers, the news site said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised a relief package of 500 million euros ($587 million) but businesses would get 70 percent and owners and farmers said it's not enough for them.