Environment group WWF slams changes to forest maps

21 May 2016
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The Greek branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has sent a letter to lawmakers lambasting amendments included in the government’s multi-bill regarding forest maps as nothing but a precursor to the legalization of illegal housing developments in forests and woodlands.

“The bill under discussion does not just include measures designed to achieve fiscal targets. It also introduces amendments that perpetuate the unacceptable political perception that legalizing environmental violations is in the public interest,” the environmental group said in a statement. It denounced what it described as a government outlook that considers “securing the country’s natural wealth an undesirable luxury.”

The new maps include forested areas with illegal constructions – now designated as “residential clusters” – raising concerns that this will eventually lead to their legalization through the back door.

Critics insist the maps should only delineate which areas are forested and those which are not. “This is the only way the forest maps can protect the environment,” WWF said.

Areas that have been encroached upon and destroyed by illegal developments do not lose their designation as forested areas, according to Greek law.

“The Constitution is clear that forests or forested areas that are destroyed do not lose their designation as forests,” WWF said.

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