ATHENS – Greece’s Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Christos Stylianides said that the rate of destruction of wildfires on Greece’s second-largest island, Evia, this summer didn’t have to be if forests had been cleared properly.
Speaking at the 1st Athens ESG & Climate Crisis Summit organized by Kathimerini at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, he said if the woods had been managed properly that the damage could have been avoided, the fires scorching nearly half the island some 69 miles northeast of Athens.
“If we had good clearing and management of the forest in Evia, I am sure we would have avoided a large number of consequences,” he said, talking to a panel of young people from the island. He didn’t explain why the New Democracy government hasn’t done it since taking power in July 7, 2019 snap elections, however.
But he offered that now – after the fires – that measures are being taken, repeating promises made by a number of governments over the year that haven’t been met.
Among them are the need “to build large firebreaks, to clear the forest, to manage it, to set up teams and companies that manage the forest.”
Stylianides also reiterated the government’s intention to purchase a total of six new Canadair firefighting aircraft. “We will numerically reach a fleet that will be sufficient for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
Residents of Evia had complained that fire-dumping planes and helicopters weren’t dispatched to the worst hit parts of the island as the conflagration raged, one of hundreds around Greece this summer.