Greek foresters Pavlos Hasilidis, Iakovos Papadopoulos and Pavlos Bekiaroglu, members of the Greek LIFEGENMON team, tell us about their experience during the LIFEGENMON 2nd Transect Drive. Lets read and find out what they say.

“Our participation in the transect drive was very useful for us as we gained valuable knowledge and experiences. We had the opportunity to see many different forest stands, management practices, procedures, people and mentalities in a very short period of time. Direct (quantitative) comparisons are not reliable in most cases, due to very different environmental conditions, forest evolution history, and differences in governance and practice. Also the gained knowledge is mostly epidermic and based on our personal scientific background and perceptions (as was normally expected due to short time-huge amount of experiences). So it is naturally not possible to make specific suggestions, which would lead to immediate improved competitiveness of our forest sector.

But after the transect drive we now believe that Hellenic forest practice and Service has much to gain from a more careful study of the forest sector of other Balkan countries. Based on the experiences the points of interest for this study should be:

  1. Organizational models: almost all of the countries we have visited seem to use the model of local or regional public (state-owned) enterprises. That is totally different from the structure used in Greece (forest service with local branches). Although we are not certain if they all mean the same thing, their model is considered flexible. We have to admit that it was used in Greece until 1986, and was considered responsible for a good everyday management but with substantial negative economic results. Since then (1986) the Greek governments decided to privatize the management in favor of forest workers cooperatives, but actually they privatized the profits while maintaining the costs for the state. Our proposal is to study their organizational models further with emphasis in the financial viability.
  2. All of the countries have recognized the importance of genetic monitoring for their forest resources, and are actively using all the relative scientific tools (monitoring plots, clone plantations, stoolbeds, seed orchards, seed production stands etc). It is necessary that our country immediately re-evaluates all of these tools.
  3. Most of the countries use their mountain national parks as their forestry “flagships”, using the appropriate “tools”, multiple forestry goals, and scientific knowledge in order to demonstrate their forestry sector capabilities and to achieve the best socioeconomic results for the society. In Greece, despite its pioneer role (i.e.with the establishment of the first Olympus mountain “national forest” at 1936), the forest sector has left for more than a decade  the management of mountain national parks (basically national forests) to some cloudy, tremendously expensive, inter-municipality based, “bodies” with over-emphasized regulatory general environmental responsibilities and minimal field capabilities. The result is the underestimation of forested national parks and with them that of the forest sector. This policy must be actively challenged by the Hellenic forest sector, by studying the examples of national parks in other countries (i.e. Tara mountain park)”