Greece’s fire-ravaged island now racing to construct flood defences

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LIMNI, Greece, Oct 6 (Reuters) – In a scorched panorama on the Greek island of Evia, crews of employees chop burnt pine bushes, all that is left from devastating summer time wildfires, to arrange wood flood limitations.

Walking on a thick carpet of ash and with the odor of smoke nonetheless lingering, they’re racing in opposition to time to bolster defences earlier than the autumn rains which threaten to flood coastal villages.

The vegetation which might usually take in the rainfall and cut back runoff has been burnt and the soil may not have the ability to cease rain water from reaching seaside settlements.

“This is dangerous. If rains start now and go on for 15 or 20 days then all the rivers will overflow,” stated employee Giorgos Diakomopoulos as he took a break.

About 300,000 acres of forest and bushland had been burnt in several elements of Greece this previous summer time, amid the nation’s worst heatwave in 30 years.

More than a 3rd of the affected space, or about 115,106 acres was in northern Evia, information from Beyond, a analysis centre of the National Observatory of Athens, confirmed.

In the coastal village of Limni, lots of its 1,500 inhabitants and vacationers needed to evacuate by boat to flee the apocalyptic blazes that turned the sky pink in August. No one died within the fires.

“We have to make it in time for the winter. We did not have to mourn any victims during the wildfires, and it is very important that we don’t have that problem with the floods,” stated the mayor of Limni, George Tsapourniotis.

COTTAGE INDUSTRIES

In the burnt woods over Limni, inexperienced shoots have began to emerge, an indication that the forest will slowly regrow by itself.

The residents should not so certain their conventional crafts will discover a renewed foothold after such devastation.

Most of the inhabitants there and in different villages throughout northern Evia had been resin collectors, beekeepers and loggers who’ve lived for many years off the forest.

Evia had an annual output of 6,000 tonnes of resin, a crystallised sap extracted from the trunk of pine bushes and used to make sturdy casting and flooring. This was about 85% of the nation’s whole output.

With many of the pine bushes gutted by the fires, a yr’s crop and a big a part of the nation’s manufacturing has gone.

“If we take into account cottage industries, a factory and all the other sectors destroyed by the fire, there are no jobs left in northern Evia anymore,” stated Vangelis Georgatzis, who heads the island’s resin collectors union.

Yiannis Georgiou, a 40-year-old resin collector, has misplaced all his crop. “I ‘ve been really thinking of leaving. What can I do?”

WAKE-UP CALL

An EU ambiance monitor has stated that the Mediterranean has develop into a wildfire hotspot as human-induced local weather change makes heatwaves extra doubtless and extra extreme. learn extra

“We knew that we were vulnerable to heatwaves lasting for three, four five days, but this time we have been taken by surprise … because these heatwaves lasted for about 10 days or more,” stated Christos Zerefos, head of the Athens Academy Research Centre for Climatology and a local weather professional.

“You can see that the very sensitive sensors of the earth which are at the poles, both are warning and saying ‘wake up and take measures now, not tomorrow’.”

Relying closely on imported fossil gasoline, Greece says it should ditch coal in energy era by 2025 to chop carbon emissions according to 2050 EU local weather targets.

Topographical engineer Stavros Benos has been tasked by the federal government to set out a plan to assist the forest regrow and rebuild Evia.

Benos envisages an Evia the place a regrown forest would be the core of a plan which, mixed with new infrastructure and tourism, may provide new jobs.

“A new forest should be the focal point of the reconstruction,” he stated. “If we don’t win the forest back, we will lose everything.”

Additional reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Alison Williams

A view shows burnt parts of a forest on the island of Evia, Greece, September 23, 2021. Picture taken September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

A group of resin producers set up wooden barriers against possible floods on the island of Evia, Greece, September 23, 2021.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

A view shows the burnt hills from summer wildfires next to the town of Limni, on the island of Evia, Greece, September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis