Finally, after so many years, the issue of forest maps is being settled, for the benefit of the citizens and the safeguarding of their property”

The proposal of the Regional Authority on the issue introduced by the “Ionian Initiative” faction for the redefinition of forest maps in the Ionian Islands was approved by a majority by the Ionian Islands Regional Council

The need for Greece to finally acquire, after so many years of efforts, forest maps, underlined the Ionian Islands Regional Governor, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou , during the discussion on “Redefining Forest Maps in the Ionian Islands and Establishing the owners’ rights “, at the Saturday (February 20, 2021) meeting of the regional council, by teleconference via e:

The Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou noted that this issue had employed since the term of office as an MEP in the European Parliament stressed that the moment the forest maps in Greece came to settle and to fix, for the benefit of citizens , who struggled for decades from the lack of a legal framework.

The regional council was informed in detail about the issue of forest maps – in a discussion that lasted several hours – by the officials of the Ministry of Energy & Environment, heads of the General Directorate of Forests & Forest Environment and Forest Works & Infrastructure , Evangelos Gudroufas and Stadou Tsilikouna.

As pointed out -among other things- the two executives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the definition of forest maps has been a constitutional requirement since 1975 , with Greece being today the only European country that has not regulated this issue. In fact, the identification of forest maps is a prerequisite – and not a parallel project – of cadastre . The identification of forest maps, according to Messrs. Gudoufa and Tsilikouna, will ensure, on the one hand, the protection of the natural environment, on the other hand, the citizen himself, who will now move safely in a legally protected environment.

After the questions and positions of the leaders of the factions and the other regional councilors, the proposal was voted in favor by a majority , which was co-formed by the factions of the Regional Authority, with the initiative of the “Ionian Initiative” led by Alexandros Alexakis .

The proposal stated the following:

“We recognize the need and obligation to prepare forest maps in our country as well. We strongly point out that the posted forest maps, which concern the Ionian Islands, present a big problem in terms of the property status and the characterization of the areas. It is understood that it takes time and a multifaceted process to correct them.

For these reasons we ask:

  •        Withdraw immediately for correction the posting of forest maps in order to adapt to the real data, taking into account designation deeds, court decisions, concession deeds, building permits, obvious marking errors (olive groves, vineyards) etc. Then to post the corrected ones again forest maps.
  •        To set as a minimum deadline for submitting objections the period of eight (8) months, more than one (1) month for residents abroad. This deadline should start, in any case, after the final end of the pandemic, when the obstacles to movement will be removed.
  •        Until the final ratification of the forest maps, the issued acts are valid, and in particular the final designation acts, on the basis of which the properties can be transferred. For non-forest areas, the fact that the display of an extract from the temporary forest map is sufficient evidence for the preparation of contracts and the issuance of building permits.
  •        The Administration should be harmonized with the explicit provision of the Law and the Case Law that the presumption of ownership of the Greek State over the forest areas does not apply to the Ionian Islands, so that the State can claim forest areas only if it holds titles ownership.
  •        The IACS-OPEKEPE cultivation declarations should not be affected by the posting and ratification of forest maps.
  •        Land plots that did not bear forest vegetation before 1945 and acquired a forest form, should not be governed by forest provisions.
  •        Owners should not pay a fee when submitting objections.      
  •        The Ionian Islands Region intends to inform, in cooperation with the Municipalities and the Forest Services, the citizens of our islands about the issues of the forest maps.
  •        The Municipalities should immediately cooperate with the competent central services, for the integration of the city plans in the elaboration of the forest maps “.

It is noted that as the members of the regional council informed the two directors of the Ministry of Energy & Environment, the forest maps for the entire Greek territory will be posted in the first week of March, while the establishment of at least 300 committees is foreseen, which will quickly take control of citizens’ objections . These applications, moreover, can be submitted free of charge , as for this very reason there was from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. the prediction for “obvious errors”.

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