Sunday, August 26, 2007

Out of control

Of course, I have been reading and seeing the news of the deadly forest fires currently raging in Greece. It's difficult to get a sense of how widespread they are.

This photo, however, is astonishing:


And there are suggestions that this might not be merely an act of nature:

Authorities fear that several of the fires have been set by arsonists, a spokesman told the AP. Indeed, just over a week ago, arson was suspected in a vast blaze that raced down the slopes of Mount Penteli in Athens. A senior researcher with Greece's Forest Research Institute explained to SPIEGEL ONLINE earlier this month that forest management policies in the country may actually promote arson.

Forest protection is written into Greece's constitution, making it almost impossible for forest land to be re-zoned for development. But because there are no official maps delineating the boundaries of the forest areas, land at the edges of burned out forests are often claimed by developers after fires. "This is the heart of the problem," the researcher told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

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