09 January, 2008
The replanting of burnt pine forests on historic Mount Penteli in Attica is to begin this Sunday in a reforestation drive backed mainly by Greek-American and Cypriot business people based abroad. Among their number is easyGroup's founder and chairman, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who was knighted in 2006 for his services to entrepreneurship.
The initiative to reforest areas of Athens stricken by last summer's destructive fires was launched last summer with the support of locally-based journalists, embassy staff and many others that joined their efforts with those of the Agricultural Development Ministry and the Attica Reforestation Directorate.
It gained new impetus with the support of the Greek diaspora organization "Plant your Roots in Greece" and the "Independent Reforestation Movement" formed last year. The first phase of reforestation will begin on Mount Penteli at the location Kokkinara, which is on the borders of New Penteli and Kefalari.
Taking part in Sunday's tree-planting drive will be Deputy Agriculture Minister Constantine Kiltidis and representatives of the two organizations with volunteers from Greece, local mayors and municipal councilors and senior staff from the British Embassy in Athens.
"Plant Your Roots in Greece" is a non-profit foundation established in Chicago in 1991 that now operates with the support of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and the Hellenic American National Council and has been very active in Greece since 1999. It is planning a second round of tree plantings during 2008 at the archaeological park in Dion, Pieria and at Cassandra in Halkidiki, which was swept by huge destructive fires in 2006.
The organization has also launched a campaign to raise money for the restitution of Mount Taygetus, also ravaged in last summer's fires and one of the most important ecosystems in the country.
Mount Penteli in Athens was chosen as the starting point for these reforestation drives because of its symbolic importance as the source of the marble that built the Parthenon and its importance for the environment in Athens.
Source: Athens News Agency