Prevention key to reducing wildfire risk in Greece: WWF

Between 2016 and 2020, Greece allocated 83.95 percent of its total state expenditure on fighting wildfires and only 16.05 percent on preventing them, the environmental organization WWF Greece told an online press conference on Thursday.

In a new report, the Greek chapter of the World Wildlife Fund, in cooperation with the Mediterranean Institute for Investigative Reporting (MIIR), summed up the findings of a two-year survey of the financing of Greece’s forest fire management strategy.

It highlighted shortcomings and suggested further investment in prevention to maximize effectiveness.

As the new firefighting season started on May 1, the Greek government has confirmed its preparedness to avoid a repeat of last year’s forest fire tragedies.

In 2021, Greece’s wildfires were the worst since those in August 2007.

Prevention, preparedness and coordination are key principles in the authorities’ preparation for this season, Greece’s Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Thursday.

In the past 20 years, Greece’s forest protection services saw their budget shrink by 80 percent and their personnel by 53 percent, according to the report.

“Another key deficit is that we do not have a financial review. At the end of the firefighting period (in autumn), there is a review of the burnt areas only, but no financial report,” said WWF Greece’s local action coordinator Elias Tziritis. ■

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