Deforestation due to wildfires worsening climate crisis: expert

August 8, 2023, 3:34 pm Updated on August 8, 2023, 4:04 pm

ATHENS – A Greek expert on Monday warned that deforestation caused by wildfires is drastically worsening the climate crisis we are facing.

Wildfires in the country burden atmosphere and air quality, Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, who teaches at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, told public broadcaster ERT.

“There is a big burden from smoke, soot, but at the same time there is also a burden from the burning of technical materials used in fighting fires,” he said.

These materials which release heavy gases and particles also burden soil and groundwater, he added.

According to him, forest fires also affect the microclimate of the areas where they spread and cause extreme weather phenomena, including heat waves, hailstorms and storms.

Recent blazes in Greece, fanned by rising temperatures and strong winds, led to casualties, destroyed homes, farms, and factories and burned swathes of forest land.

23% of Attica’s forested areas burned

Wildfires burned 23 percent of the forested areas in Greece’s central Attica region, which includes the capital Athens, since 2017, the country’s major meteorological forecast agency said on Monday.

From 2017 till this July, 11 large fires in the region destroyed some 2.5 million acres of forested areas in the region, according to Meteo Gr.

The management of forest fires requires an integrated approach that will incorporate cutting-edge knowledge from different sciences such as fire weather forecast, it added.

Meanwhile, the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Ministry warned of a high risk of wildfires for Tuesday.

The Attica region, the northern port city of Thessaloniki, as well as the southern Peleponesse region, are among the nine regions under risk, the ministry said in a statement.

It advised the citizens to be extremely careful and avoid actions that could cause fires, including burning dry grass and branches or cleaning residues, and the use of outdoor grills. (Anadolu)