Goodbye Greek Forests, Hello Hotels

By @David_Kashi on
  • Greece Zeus Temple July 2013

    A woman visits the ancient Temple of Zeus in Athens July 2, 2013. Greek tourism revenues are expected to bounce back this year to pre-crisis levels, the industry said on April 18. The Mediterranean country has pinned its hopes on its sun-drenched beaches and ancient monuments to pull itself out of a deep recession. Tourism is the Greek economy's biggest cash-earner, accounting for about 17 percent of output.

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    Greek firefighting helicopter drops water over a forest fire at Varibobi suburb north of Athens August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis
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As Greece continues to face stern austerity measures following the European debt crisis, the nation's lawmakers are preparing to relax environmental restrictions and allow development of previously protected forest land.

Greece may pass a law relaxing restrictions on building in public and private forests even if they are considered protected, the Greek news site reported Wednesday. Under the legislation proposed by the Environment Ministry, hotels would be allowed to expand into forested areas and tourism developments like golf courses as well as spas would also be allowed.

The proposed legislation builds on a 2011 amendment that allowed for 10 percent of forest land to be used for the same purposes. In addition, the bill does not allow for the installation of solar panels but lets the lands be used for recycling building materials, and dairy or livestock farms.

The legislation comes as Greece is going through an economic crisis that has left the country struggling to pay its debts.

Other European countries and the International Monetary Fund have helped keep the country afloat with new loans, in exchange for drastic austerity measures.

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