Road to Olympus. Greece has a great diversity of forest vegetation types and has the highest number of forest habitat types per hectare in Europe. [ΙΝΤΙΜΕ NEWS / ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗΣ ΤΟΣΙΔΗΣ]
The special importance of the forest wealth of our country, the great threat it faces due to climate change and the necessary measures that must be taken for their protection highlighted the exhibition entitled “The resilience of Greek forest ecosystems to climate change”, which was recently presented at academy of athens, also focusing on the financial dimension of this effort. As the Minister of the Academy stressed, Christos Zerefos, the cost of climate change in Greece is estimated at a staggering €700 billion by the end of the 21st century, based on the negative no-action scenario (“business as usual”), while it is reduced to €350,000. million euros with the measures adopted adaptation and inhibition. Forest protection emerges as one of the most critical aspects of this effort. As highlighted in the report, Greece has a high diversity of forest vegetation types and has the highest number of forest habitat types per hectare in Europe. A total of 28 forest habitat types have been recorded, the third highest number among all EU member states. “The country’s significant wealth of biodiversity together with its temperate Mediterranean climate constitute the natural shield against the effects of anthropogenic climate change,” said Philippos Aravanopoulos, a professor at AUTH’s Department of Forestry and Natural Environment.
A report presented at the Academy of Athens documents the multifaceted consequences of the destruction or degradation of forest ecosystems.
The report was prepared by the interdisciplinary committee on the resilience of Greek forest ecosystems, whose creation was decided after the tragic summer of 2021, with the huge fires in Evia (burned more than 450,000 hectares of forest land), Attica, Corinth and other places. – in collaboration with the Academy of Athens Research Center for Atmospheric Physics and Climatology and the Mariolopoulio-Kanaginio Foundation for Environmental Sciences.
The primary threats to our nation’s forests and forest ecosystems are wildfires, air pollution, extreme weather events, insect and fungal infestations, and invasive alien species. Under the influence of man-made climate change, and especially after 2050, all these threats are expected to intensify and possibly multiply, with huge economic and social costs for Greece, it is noted. The report introduces the concept of ecosystem services that forests provide to society and continues with estimates of their value. Forest ecosystem services include, according to the report, the following categories: firstsupply services, such as wood and non-wood products. In second placeregulating services, such as the role of forests in climate, flood prevention, carbon sequestration. In third placesupport services, such as nutrient recycling, species conservation, etc. Four, cultural services, such as recreation, satisfaction of spiritual and moral values, etc. For all these services, economic models have been developed to calculate their value. “Estimates of the annual value of forest ecosystem services range between 30 and 126.2 euros per hectare. Therefore, a fire that will burn 1,000 hectares of forest area will generate annual damage that, according to the proposal, will range between 30,000 and 126,200 euros. These damages refer only to losses of ecosystem services and do not include damage to infrastructure or real estate, nor injuries or loss of human life. Therefore, climate change adaptation projects, which will reduce the number of fires expected, will generate significant benefits in ecosystem services,” he said. Anastasios Xepapadeas, emeritus professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business and the University of Bologna. Greek productive forests, covering a total area of 39 million hectares, annually generate ecosystem services with a total value of more than 2.83 billion euros. Over a 100-year period, the report estimates that the conservation value of forests amounts to more than €176 billion, while the sustainable value of their conservation over a much longer time horizon exceeds €283 billion. euro.
Any carelessness will pay dearly
700 €1 billion will reach the cost of climate change in Greece by the end of the 21st century if no action is taken.
350 million euros will be the cost if adaptation and containment measures are taken. The protection of forests is crucial.
28 Forest habitat types have been recorded in our country, the third largest number among all EU member states.
39 million acres is the area covered by Greek productive forests.
2.83 billion euros is the value of the ecosystem services they generate annually.
Faced with the danger of mega-fires
Greeting the presentation and referring to the response to the mega-fires, the Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Christos Stylianidis He emphasized that “a new holistic approach is needed, one that places the burden on prevention and less on repression. This must also be expressed in terms of spending, with 70% going to prevention. We are far from that goal. Last year, 100 million euros were given for prevention, which seemed like a drop in the ocean.” Regarding the repression side, the minister pointed out that measures were taken last year regarding the way in which the air vehicles resulting in “efficiency, savings and transparency.” Mr. Stylianides stressed the importance of the contribution of the scientific community, as well as the creation of a national platform with all the data on natural disasters. they allow improvisations or jurisprudence”, he said characteristically.
“A new approach is needed that places the burden on prevention and less on repression,” says the responsible minister Christos Stylianidis.
According to the report, due to climate change, significant losses of climatically suitable areas are expected in important tree species found in mountainous areas, such as black pine, broadleaf oak and beech. While hardier species like jack pine and Scots pine can struggle in extreme situations, Ms. Daisy Arianoutsou, professor emeritus of the Department of Biology of the EKPA. Urban and peri-urban interface zones will experience even larger and more intense fires in current and future seasons. “As more people tend to live scattered in these areas (suburbs), the risk to human lives and property increases considerably,” said Kostas Kalambokidis, a professor at the Aegean University Department of Geography. Interesting data was presented by haris kontoes, research director of the Athens Observatory and scientific director of the Operational Unit “BEYOND Earth Observation and Satellite Remote Sensing Research Center”. In particular, he focused on the high transmission speed of mega-fires, saying that in Mati the fire reached the settlement within an hour from the moment of its occurrence, while emphasizing that “in eastern Attica every six years a fire ignites in the same place”!
The academic presented the necessary measures for the protection of forests andreas karamanos, emeritus professor and former rector of Athens Agricultural University. It is necessary to develop new management plans and in fact “not only for productive forests but also for forests or forest areas that until now are outside the management system of forest service (for example, temperate coniferous or scrub forests)’.