The protection of forests and wooded tracts of our country consisted a concern of all the legislation adopted from time to time. Accordingly, through time course, from the first legislation concerning forests (1836) until today, an institutional framework was formulated, which:
- Specifies in detail the dangers that threaten them and by a series of positive or prohibitive provisions, identifies the activities and actions that prevent these dangers.
- Specifies the obligations of the State on the adoption of adequate administrative measures to confront these dangers on preventive and suppressive basis.
- Identifies the obligations of the national and social bodies, the functions of the national instruments and the obligations and activities of the citizens for the prevention of these dangers.
- Makes provision for public awareness, cultivation of forest friendly mentality and participation of the social bodies in the preparation and implementation of forest protection plans and finally
- Inflicts heavy penalties to the violators of the protective, prohibitive provisions.
The provisions of the existing forest legislation provide for the management and development of the forest ecosystems and take care for the study and construction of forestry works, including the works for improvement and management of mountainous rangelands.
In principle, forestry at public and non-public forests is practiced for the benefit of the owner, nevertheless, always in combination with the forest-political pretensions that serve the national interest. The latter are not limited to production increase, but also extend to the increase of the national forestry benefits and the fairer distribution of the forestry economic goods and benefits.
Interest for the protection of the natural environment has been raised in our country since 1938 when the first National Park was founded in mountain Olympus. After 1970 the concept of protected areas was enlarged and nowadays, except from the National Parks, includes the aesthetic forests and the monuments of nature.
According to the existing Greek Constitution, article 24, “As forest or forest ecosystem is meant the organic whole of wild plants with ligneous trunk on the requisite land surface, which, together with the co-existing flora and fauna, form throughout their mutual interdependence and interactions, a certain biological community (forest biological community) and a certain natural environment (forest environment). Wooded tract exists when in the aforementioned whole the wild ligneous vegetation, high or bushy, is sparse.” Furthermore, in the same article it is mentioned that the State is obliged to protect the natural environment by specific preventive and suppressive measures in the framework of the principle of sustainability. Finally, in article 117 of the Constitution it is mentioned that forests and wooded tracts, which are damaged by fire or deforested are obligatorily declared reforestable.
In chapter G’ (Book Α) of the L.D. 86/1969 it is mentioned that the redemption, exchange and expropriation of private lands is possible on behalf of the State in the interests of forest policy (technical management, forestry development, conservation of the cohesion and the existence of forest ecosystems, installation of nurseries, construction of forest roads, forest factories) after decision of the competent Ministers and an approved management plan or management report.
In chapter H’ (Book Α) of the L.D. 86/1969 it is mentioned that the rights acquired on public forests or wooded tracts should not inhibit forest exploitation, nor the taking of necessary protective measures. Moreover, in chapter I’ of this decree it is mentioned that forest property can be divided only after relevant permit.
In chapter Α’ (Book Β, part Α) of the L.D. 86/1969 are defined the administrative types of forests and the kinds of forestry studies, plans and reports, as well as the procedure for issuing forest police decrees. In chapter B’ are defined as protective forests those that contribute to the protection of soil, fountains, gorges, roads, monuments, urban areas. The procedure of their designation and the special decrees for their management are also described.
In chapter D’ (Book Β, part Α) of the L.D. 86/1969 are described the areas that can be declared national parks, aesthetic forests and protected monuments of nature, the prohibitions that apply for them and the works that can be performed.
In chapter F’ (Book Β, part Α) of the L.D. 86/1969 is described the procedure for granting permit for logging, the loggers’ obligations and the control of logging by the forest officers.
In chapter I’ (Book Β, part Α) of the L.D. 86/1969 are described the areas where grazing is allowed or not and the exemptions due to recommendations of the competent authorities.
In part B (Book B) of the L.D. 86/1969 are described the laws that rule the management of public forests. Forestry reports are conducted by the competent forest inspections and the uptakes from public forests are allotted with or without auction, depending on the holder. Alternatively public forests can undergo model exploitation under the supervision of the relevant forest inspections. The way of disposal of forest products depends on the quantity and the intended use.
In part C (Book B) of the L.D. 86/1969 are described the laws that rule the management of non public forests. The State supervises and relative forestry reports are conducted. The regime of administration and management of public benefit, municipal, community, co-operative, joint owned etc. forests are described in detail, as also the taxation they undergo (rent, forest tax).
In part D (Book B) of the L.D. 86/1969 is defined the personnel of private forests, i.e. foresters, forest rangers and green zones’ supervisors and the regime for their appointment.
In chapter B (Book C) of the L.D. 86/1969 provision is made for the establishment of forest friendly unions and committees and their resources.
In chapter B (Book D) of the L.D. 86/1969 it is mentioned that in case of damage from insects and fungi the forest owners are obliged to take appropriate suppressive action, in accordance with the recommendations of the forest authority. In addition, the import of all kinds of timber is prohibited for protective reasons, so far as there is relevant decision of the Minister of Agriculture.
In Book E of the L.D. 86/1969 it is mentioned that is necessary to conduct a study for the execution of forestry works such as gully correction and forest installations (roads, buildings) and the procedure for carrying out and the financial servicing of these works are analysed.
In Book F of the L.D. 86/1969 at chapter A the game that can be hunted is defined, as also the means for exercising hunting. Furthermore, provision is made for the establishment and the operation of game farming settlements, wildlife shelters and controlled hunting areas and the mode of their operation is described. In chapter B are determined the areas where hunting is prohibited and other prohibitions. Finally, the specific measures for the game protection are referred and special mention is made to the protection of wild birds, as set by Directive 79/409/EEC. In chapter C are defined the hunting regions of Greece, the hunting periods and the prohibited zones and is cited a detailed game table. Finally, matters of granting hunting permits are illustrated. In chapter D is mentioned the mode of operation of hunting organizations and are analysed the responsibilities of the hunting keepers.
In Book G of the L.D. 86/1969 are mentioned the penal and procedural provisions concerning illegal and harmful activities against forests or wooded tracts, such as illegal logging, grazing and resin collecting, trespassing and fire instigation.
In chapter Α of the Law 998/1979 the concept of forest and wooded tract is defined and the objective of their protection is described. Also the various categories of forest and wooded tracts are referred with regard to their value and their location. Finally, the competent authorities for forest and wooded tracts protection are determined and the way of calculating their value.
In chapter B of the Law 998/1979 is determined the procedure for settlement of councils and committees relevant to forestry matters, as well as their responsibilities, their organization and their operation.
In chapter C of the Law 998/1979 are mentioned the protective measures related to solving matters of controversy concerning wooded tracts, construction of forest roads and special forestry works, supervision and protection of flora and fauna. Particularly concerning supervision, in article 18 it is mentioned that the forest authorities ensure the continuous and effective supervision of the public forests and wooded tracts in terms of protecting them from fire risks, illegal logging, clearing and grazing, guarding the forestry works, protection of wild fauna and prevention of forest offences. The owners, under the supervision of the forestry office, ensure the guarding and protection of private forests. In forests and wooded tracts are established watchtowers or guardhouses, equipped with communication devices to the nearest forestry and police authorities. Concerning the protection of flora and fauna, in article 19 it is stressed that throughout the management of forests and wooded tracts it is ensured that the biodiversity is conserved at all levels (genetic, species, ecosystem and landscape).
In chapter D of the Law 998/1979 are mentioned the prohibitions in the framework of fire suppression and also the obligations of certain bodies (e.g. railway services) in order to avoid fire instigation. Additionally, the critical areas are mentioned and the measures that have to be taken. Provision is made for the organization of ground and aerial forest fires’ suppression units and the competent bodies and their obligations during and after suppression are defined. Finally, the forestry regulations for fire suppression are mentioned.
In chapter E of the Law 998/1979 is defined the concept of reforestation, the areas that are declared reforestable and the procedure of declaration and realization of the reforestation.
In chapter F of the Law 998/1979 are mentioned the conditions, on which are allowed interventions on forests and wooded tracts such as: clearing, road construction, city or residential area expansion, establishment of touristic settlements, industry plant, execution of mining and quarrying activities, execution of public works, infrastructure works, military works, cultural works and carrying out events.
In chapter G of the Law 998/1979 are mentioned the rules that apply in cases of controversy related to forests or wooded tracts, land concession, arrangements for fields that have been transformed or are included in wooded tracts.
In chapter H of the Law 998/1979 are mentioned the penalties that are imposed in case of breach of the protective measures, measures for fire suppression, reforestation measures and use alteration.
In chapter I of the Law 998/1979 are included specific conclusive and transitional provisions related to selling private wooded tracts, delimitation of public forests, disposal of grasslands a.o.
In article 2 of the Law 3208/2003 it is mentioned that the planning of management and exploitation of forest ecosystems and the forestry actions and practices have to ensure the protection of the landscape and the conservation of biodiversity. In this framework is supported financially the creation of agrobiotopes by environmental organizations and owners of agricultural land.
In article 3 of the Law 3208/2003 is described the procedure for constituting a Forest Inventory, its contents depending on the type of forest vegetation and are appointed the competent bodies.
In article 8 of the Law 3208/2003 is defined the procedure for financing the works and activities for development, exploitation and protection of the forest and hunting resources of the country.
In article 19 § 1 of the Law 3208/2003 it is mentioned that in the interests of environmental protection and promotion of the national economy, forests whose management and exploitation has been abandoned over the past twenty years come under the management of the competent Forest Authority. In § 3 of this article it is decided to establish working groups consisting of specialist scientists for the constitution of the Greek Standards for timber and the rest forest products of primary production, as well as the products of their primary processing. Moreover, it is decided to determine the procedure and the definition of the conditions for the establishment of a mark and the issue of a quality certificate. In § 6 of this article is given provision for three-months’ training on the subject of forest protection for forest rangers, forest protection employees and technical drivers.
In article 20 of the Law 3208/2003 is arranged the establishment of offices and positions for the implementation of the Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES Convention). Specifically in the Administration of Aesthetic Forests, National Parks and Hunting of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food, which is appointed as the Central Administrative Authority is established a Department entitled «International Conventions’» and being responsible for the supervision and the implementation of the Convention and the issue of the relevant permits to the Greek State. Respectively, in regional forest administrations are established offices entitled «International Conventions’», which are assigned to the aforementioned administration and the relevant positions are created.
Β. FOREST PROTECTION
This decree concerns the protection of the native flora and wild fauna and the assessment of a procedure for the coordination and audit of the research on them. The species that are declared protected are listed and it is prohibited throughout the State and all year long to collect, transplant, uproot, cut, transport, trade, export and damage in any way the vegetative species mentioned, as also to kill or attempt to kill, to maltreat, injure or cause harm in any way, to possess, arrest, embalm, trade, transport and export the fauna species mentioned. Furthermore, it is prohibited to use toxic substances and poisonous substances in general for the control of the species specified each time as harmful. In parallel, the owners of embalmed species or embalming laboratories are obliged to declare so to the competent forestry offices. The conditions under which it is allowed to carry out research on a species of the wild fauna and native flora are defined, too. Finally, the coordination of research, effective protection of wild fauna and native flora and communication with the relevant bodies abroad is assigned to the General Administration of Forests and Forest Environment.
This decree concerns the study and execution of forestry works and the actions for protecting and developing forests and wooded tracts. The procedures for conducting studies and the competent bodies for considering, approving and modifying them are designated. Additionally, matters of financing, executional procedures, personnel and contractors of forestry works are discussed.
This decree concerns the establishment and the operational rules of the Obligatory Forest Protection Cooperatives in areas that are identified as endangered (highly exposed and susceptible to fire) or residential (parks and tree stands included in city plans or urban planning zones or residential areas).
Chapter B of the Law 1650/1986 concerns the protection of the environment from works and activities. The latter are classified with regard to their impact on the environment, in order to put forward environmental conditions to be approved. For the adoption of an approval decision is required a Study of Environmental Impact, environmental report or certificates of compliance with the decrees on environmental protection, depending on the category of the project.
Chapter D of the Law 1650/1986 concerns the protection of nature and landscape, in order to reassure the natural procedures, the efficiency of natural resources, the balance and evolution of ecosystems, as well as their diversity, their specificity and their uniqueness. Terrestrial, aquatic or mixed type areas, individual elements or ensembles of nature and landscape, may form subject of protection and management due to their ecological, geomorphological, biological, scientific or aesthetic importance. The species of native flora and wild fauna are protected and conserved together with their biocommunity and their habitat, as biogenetic reserves and as components of ecosystems. The implementation of agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishery, as also plant protection and sanitary protection of animals is co-ordinated with the needs for protection of the native flora and wild fauna.
In chapter G of the Law 1650/1986 are mentioned the penal and administrative provisions for activities that cause environmental degradation.
In chapter A’ of the Law 734/1987 are defined the concepts of rangeland, range capacity and range management. Follows a description of the procedure of rangeland delimitation and the rules that apply to their management and the elaboration of programmes for their elaboration and improvement. There are also specified the rights for use and grazing that pastoralists have on rangelands.
Under chapter K of the Law 1892/1990 it is prohibited to establish buildings, constructions and all kinds of settlements in public or private forests or wooded tracts or lands under reforestation that were destroyed or are destroyed by fire.
This decree concerns granting authorization for establishment and expansion of industries in forests and wooded tracts and the concession of the latter for creating industrial areas. The applications for granting such authorization shall include study of environmental impact. The competent Forest Inspection is obliged to conduct a consultation report, where the necessary safety measures shall be included for ensuring the continuation of the exploitation of the nearby forest and wooded tract. Finally, the recipient of the authorization is obliged to receive all the necessary preventive and suppressive security measures according to the forest regulations into force.
This decree concerns the granting authorization for establishment of folds, aviaries or similar settlements as well as apiaries in public forests or wooded tracts. The competent Forest Inspection issues the relevant authorization after performing autopsy and indicates the safety measures to be taken. Finally, the settler is obliged to take all the necessary preventive and suppressive safety measures for the effective protection of the area and the nearby forest or wooded tract from the risk of fire and from alteration due to damage of the forest vegetation, from the creation of unfavourable situations against the overall functionality of the forest or wooded tract and from the dangers that derive from the environmental pollution.