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Greece urges to accelerate replanting of burnt forests

The Greek government calls regional authorities to begin replanting huge tracts of forest destroyed during the summer's deadly wildfires.

The fires burned about 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) of forest in southern Greece, killing more than 65 people.

Nearly two months later, many regional authorities still have not taken the formal step of designating the areas for reforestation, the government said Tuesday.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Costas Kiltidis wrote to regional officials urging them to issue the necessary decrees, which under Greek law must be signed within three months of the fire.

"I believe that, after that reminder, the process will be completed within the legal timeline," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

The conservative government has pledged that all burnt forests will be restored and protected from illegal development.

Replanting is expected to start after a reforestation study by forestry experts that is expected to be completed in early December. But in many cases, Agriculture Ministry officials say, replanting will not be necessary because of natural regeneration.

A total of 270,000 hectares (670,000 acres) of forest, olive groves and farmland were destroyed in the fires, which were the worst since record-keeping started in Greece more than 50 years ago.