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Expats back Penteli reforestation

01/12/2008 ΑΝΑ ΜΠΑ

The replanting of burnt pine forests on historic Mount Penteli, north of Athens, is to begin on
Sunday in a reforestation drive backed mainly by Greek-American and Cypriot businesspeople
based abroad. Among their number is easyGroup founder and chairman, Sir Stelios Haji-
Ioannou, who was knighted in 2006 for his services to entrepreneurship.
The initiative to reforest areas of Athens stricken by last summer’s destructive fires was launched
last summer with the support of locally based journalists, British embassy staff and many others that joined their efforts
with those of the agricultural development ministry and the Attica Reforestation Directorate.
It gained new impetus with the support of the Greek diaspora organization “Plant Your Roots in Greece” and the
“Independent Reforestation Movement”, formed last year. The first phase of reforestation will begin on Mount Penteli at
the Kokkinara location, on the boundaries of the Nea Penteli and Kefalari districts.
Taking part in Sunday’s tree-planting drive will be Deputy Agriculture Minister Constantine Kiltidis and representatives of
the two organizations with volunteers from Greece, local mayors and municipal Councillors and senior staff from the
British embassy in Athens.
“Plant Your Roots in Greece” is a non-profit foundation established in Chicago in 1991 that now operates with the
support of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and the Hellenic American National Council. It has been very
active in Greece since 1999, and is planning a second round of tree plantings during 2008 at the archaeological site of
Dion, Pieria prefecture, and on the Cassandra peninsula of Halkidiki prefecture, which was devastated by wildfires in
2006.
The organisation has also launched a campaign to raise money for the restitution of Mount Taygettus, in extreme
southeastern Greece near Sparta, a region that hosts one of the most important ecosystems in the country.
Mount Penteli in Athens was chosen as the starting point for these reforestation drives because of its symbolic
importance as the source of marble quarried during antiquity to build the Parthenon temple atop the Acropolis as well as
its importance for the environment in the congested greater Athens area.

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