As Greece endures its fifth year of recession, the worst hit are doing what they can to survive. One visible sign of this is the huge rise in illegal logging throughout the country. Logging has gone up by 300% in some areas of Greece.
The price of heating fuel will rise 40% next month as part of austerity measures to increase government revenue under Greece’s international bailout terms. Therefore, people have turned to their fireplaces for heat.
Pensioners and racketeers have been arrested, and 300 tons of illegally cut wood has been confiscated.
“I feel bad that old people are coming to cut wood,” says Petros Papapetrou of the forestry department. “It is awful that they have to do it in this day and age. But this forest is spectacular for us. It is a wonderful ecosystem and we must protect it for the next generation.”
An elderly man facing charges for illegal logging explains, “I know it is illegal but I have grandchildren who’ll get sick from the cold.”
There is also the issue of increased air pollution in Greek cities due to this rise in burning wood. A visible haze can be seen in most Greek cities. The smog levels are beginning to worry the public and authorities.
These problems will only increase as Greece still faces the tough weather ahead.