In a few days, on June 28, there have been six years since the fire on Mount Parnitha; a fire that destroyed 36.000 acres of forest and within just a few days turned a natural paradise into hell. During these six years many things happened. Being then in better economic conditions, the State, individuals and thousands of volunteers approached Parnitha with love, donated equipment, offered their work, helped the safeguard of the saved areas as well as the re-growth of vegetation in burned areas.
Many Athenians have visited Parnitha and Tatoi for the first time, discovered their beauty and returned. Unfortunately, however, the growing popularity of Mount Parnitha doesn’t seem to be accompanied by a real change in people’s attitude. Even today, people cross the burned grounds in order to set up barbeques within the remaining forest and they leave their garbage next to the overfull trash bins instead of taking it with them…
“After the fire and those early interventions for soil containment, one of our most priorities was the redevelopment of the plant nursery of Agia Triada which had been burnt. Only the first year it has been done planting of Cephalonian fir from Vytina; thereafter, the seeds are collected from Parnitha and the saplings grow in our nursery within their own physical environment. Today, 300.000 saplings of Cephalonian firs are growing in the nursery, when they reach the age of 3-4 years transplanted in the Mountain’s areas from October to February every year with the help of volunteers”, Mr. Dimopoulos, Chairman of the Management Body of Parnitha National Park, says.
However, the dozens of burnt trees are still standing there. Why haven’t they removed? “It was a political decision. But from the scientific point of view that was a mistake. The burnt trees are sources of contamination for the healthy forest as well as fire hazzards. Now nothing can be done because if machinery enters the forest, the saplings planted during the reforestation will be destroyed”.
As weird as it may sound, the destruction gave the chance to many Athenians to get know Parnitha. “In the last year, due to the economic crisis, the number of visitors has dramatically increased. We didn’t expect this and now we face the urgent need to manage such a crowd. But despite the destruction, people haven’t learned yet some basics. Do you know how many come in the heart of the forest for barbequing, even with 6-7 Beaufort wind? It is just common sense, we shouldn’t chase them. Also, I regret to say that the number of the people coming and abandoning their dogs on the mountain has been increased. The dogs that manage to survive are gathered in herds and become dangerous”.
The economic crisis has undoubtedly affected all the Management Bodies of protected areas, even of Parnitha, which is of the most “privileged” in terms of staff and equipment. “Lately we have problem with the refueling of vehicles because the gas station attendants ask for cash but the public sector follows other procedures. Our resources are limited. Let’s hope that with the help of the fire brigade and the volunteers everything will be fine”.