A forest policy brief for Greece

Greece's forest sector faces challenges due to its mountainous terrain, limited wood production, and a trade deficit in forest products. New policies are needed to promote sustainable forestry practices, environmental conservation, and community involvement.

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Photo: Panagiotis P. Koulelis

In this forest policy brief for Greece by researchers from the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems, the emphasis is on fostering sustainable forestry practices and environmental conservation. The recommendations underscore the need for a balanced approach on the national forest sector, addressing economic development while prioritizing measures for community involvement. These suggestions are drawn from continuous research on this issue, which has already been published.

Greece ranks among the European Union (EU) countries with low productivity in terms of wood output.

A distinctive feature of Greece’s landscape is that a substantial portion of its forested areas are situated in regions characterized by steep mountains and slopes. Consequently, the harvesting processes in these areas often prove to be exceedingly challenging.

Furthermore, the production of wood and the resulting quality frequently face limitations due to a variety of managerial and ecological factors. That’s why Greece’s forest sector has long grappled with a trade deficit in forest products, which intensified during the euro years.

Photo: Panagiotis P. Koulelis

The removal of wood resources at the national level is affected by a range of adverse factors. These encompass issues related to organization, such as complex harvesting procedures, as well as inadequate financial support for forest management plans. Uncertainties regarding forest land ownership, conflicts with forest-related regulations, governance challenges, bureaucratic obstacles, instances of illegal logging, and generally ineffective national forest policies all contribute to the difficulties in this domain.

It is extremely important to implement practices based on a new legal framework that minimizes environmental impacts, through methods such as reforestation and responsible logging, which is vital for ensuring the long-term sustainability and productivity of forest resources, in the face of threats such as wildfires, droughts, and insect infestations.

Some forest policy suggestions couldn’t be anything other than the strengthening of forest exploitation rather than protection, the valorization of forest resources, the active participation of the local population, the focus on small-scale and medium scale forestry, and the promotion of advantages for certain regions inside the mainland country. These suggestions need to be followed by specific actions such as the sustaining of existing raw material resources from small-scale industrial plantations, the improvement of production and transportation infrastructures, the development of a qualified and cost-competitive labor force, the creating of an attractive investment climate, and paying more attention to NWFPs and services.

References

Koulelis, P.P.; Tsiaras, S.; Andreopoulou, Z.S. Greece’s Forest Sector from the Perspective of Timber Production: Evolution or Decline? Forests 2023, 14, 2331. https://doi.org/10.3390/f14122331

Koulelis, P.P. Cluster Analysis in Primary Roundwood Production of 25 Countries of European Union. Annals of Forest Research. 2009, 52,163–168.

Koulelis, P.P. A Study of the Greek Trade Deficit in Forest Products. Current Conditions and Prospects. Forest Systems. 2012, 21, 549–554. [CrossRef]

Koulelis, P.P. Forest products consumption and trade deficit in Greece during the financial crisis: A quantitative statistical analysis. Open Journal of Business and Management. 2016, 4, 258–265. [CrossRef]

Koulelis, P.P. Restructuring the Greek forest sector in order to facilitate rural development in Greece. In Innovative Approaches and Applications for Sustainable Rural Development, Proceedings of 8th International Conference, HAICTA 2017, Chania, Greece, 21–24, September 2017; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2019; pp. 23–35, ISBN 978-3-030-02311-9. [CrossRef]

SOURCEInstitute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems (IMFE)
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Panagiotis Koulelis
Panagiotis Koulelis is an associate researcher at the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems located in Athens, Greece. His areas of expertise include sustainable forest management, forest sector modeling, timber industry and trade, forest growth, and the interactions with climate change.