A forest fire in Greece has become the largest ever recorded in the European Union, with devastating consequences for the country. The fire has been raging in northeastern Greece for 11 days, killing at least 20 people and causing widespread destruction. The European Commission has mobilized nearly half of its firefighting air wing to help Greece fight the blaze, as well as hundreds of firefighters.
Unprecedented scale of destruction
The scale of the fire is unprecedented, with the fire covering an area of 810 square kilometers (310 square miles) – larger than the size of New York City. The European Union Civil Defense Service confirmed that this is the largest forest fire in the EU since 2000, when data recording began. The fire has caused significant ecological damage, especially in Dadia National Park, which is a major raptor reserve. Forest ranger Dora Skartsis described the situation as a “huge ecological disaster” with years of reforestation work halted in a matter of days, Agence France-Presse reported.
Impact on local communities
The devastating fire has had a huge impact on local communities. In Alexandroupoli alone, thousands of sheep and goats were killed and animal feed stores were destroyed. The forest plays an important economic role, supporting logging, beekeeping and tourism activities in the region. The loss of this ecosystem will have long-term consequences for local economies and livelihoods.
Climate change and increased fires
The Greek government links this summer’s numerous fires to climate change, emphasizing the need for urgent action. The European Union recognizes that fires are becoming more severe each year, requiring increased capacity and resources at the Member State level. In response to this growing threat, the EU is working to establish a separate, EU-funded air wing of 12 aircraft by 2030 to enhance firefighting capabilities.
Recovery and preparedness for the future
As the fire continues to rage, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is already planning for the recovery and reforestation of the affected region. The government is also considering flood prevention measures to reduce the risk of landslides in the upcoming rainy season. The EU’s desire to ensure swift and effective collective action during the crisis was evident in its deployment of firefighting resources to Greece.
The devastating wildfire in Greece is a stark reminder of the need for urgent global action to combat climate change and strengthen firefighting capacity. Without significant efforts to combat the effects of climate change, wildfires of this magnitude and severity will continue to devastate communities and ecosystems around the world.