A difficult and cruel Greek summer is slowly coming to its end. A summer stigmatized by the prolonged, exhausting heatwave in many parts of the country, but mostly by the smoke of wildfires, keeping our mind focused on the climate crisis that makes its face increasingly obvious. Our hearts and minds extend to our fellow citizens suffering from the wildfires’ consequences, their desperation over lost fortunes, their fear that their homes and way of life will never be the same again, the lost forests, the creatures of the earth that failed to escape or still suffer from the effects of the fire on their bodies.
We must, however, look at the bigger picture, and at how we can prevent and facilitate the management of similar situations in the future. Trails are an excellent tool, as they facilitate access to remote, densely wooded areas. Their constant care and maintenance, so that they can ultimately function – and – as fire zones at the critical moment, is crucial.
Frequented paths are also an excellent prevention tool, as they contribute to the detection of dangerous piles of concentrated waste or other combustible material, cables neighboring trees, or illegal activities that cause sparks. Moreover, walking paths can prevent malicious arson plans, as the frequent movement of hikers discourages such preparations.
On our front, we are working towards enabling hikers to be more informed as well as active allies of the forest and specialized civil protection services which are chronically suffering from a severe lack of staff and budget. By using the dedicated websites and applications for the paths available, they can immediately inform the competent management organization of the respective path on which they are walking about any dangerous points crossed, requesting the appropriate intervention.
And finally… awareness!!! Citizens who hike and enjoy excursions and activities in the countryside, who are in contact with nature, and do not see it as something dangerous and remote from them, but as an element continuing and complementing themselves, their daily life and their well-being, will be less indifferent, and will push the authorities to adopt the necessary measures and policies so that scenes like the ones that made our hearts dark this summer are kept to the minimum possible.
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