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Greece is known all over the world for its islands, clean beaches and the lush green nature that dominates in the mountainous parts of the mainland. However, things are getting dangerous over the years and, unless we all pay attention, the beautiful and rejuvenating Greek environment will start to decline.
Ecology is a particularly new section in Greece. Every year more and more ecological issues come up and have to do with forest protection, cleanness of beaches, maintenance of lakes and biotopes.
One of the most important environmental problems that Greece faces every summer is the forest fires that burn hundreds of trees and destroy the ecosystem. The great fires of August 2007 that burnt villages and areas of extreme natural beauty in Western Peloponnese is only one tragic example. Many other fires preceded and followed, such as fires in Parnitha Mountain, the last green area close to Athens, in Evia island and other mainland regions.
Another ecological problem in Greece has to do with the thousands of beaches. The large number of tourists that overflow Greece and the Greek islands every summer may leave cigarette trashes, bottles, cans or plastic bags behind, so beaches are left dirty. At this point, it is certainly a great responsibility of the state to put more bins in the beach resorts and arrange cleaning teams to keep the beach clean and tidy. However, it is a duty of all visitors, too, to respect the environment.
Unfortunately, the Greek State has decided to take ecological actions only in the last years. However, they say that it is never too late. The Greek Minister of Environment, with special controls every year, testifies the cleanness of beaches. It protects the biotopes that have been included in the European Programme Natura 2000 that includes protection of the flora and fauna of these biotopes. It imposes certain rules for factories to reduce gas emission and to car owners to take care of their cars. There are also rules for individuals. For example, it is forbidden, even to campers, to light up fires in the woods.
Fortunately, except for the Greek State, individuals have also taken strong ecological action. Many environmental organizations have been set up, whose role is very important. People in Greece are just learning to take part in recycling. Tree planting is organized to areas that were burnt, so that illegal building is prevented. Volunteer teams are set to watch forests in summer, clean beaches and organize meetings on environmental issues.
Moreover, foundations have been established to protect the animals, such as the Arktouros Society for the protection of wild bear in Epirus and the Aegina Wildlife Hospital that works as a rehabilitation center for the sick or wounded animals and birds. Furthermore, the action is taken to stop overbuilding on the islands, so that their pure landscape remains untouched. New ecology websites and forums also inform people of the dangers that the Greek environment faces and to promote a new, environmental-friendly attitude.
Ecology is a really fragile issue in Greece and the Greek islands. It is our responsibility to protect the area we live in and the country we visit.
Read about Nature in Greece