Europe — More of Europe’s forest land has already burned this year than in all of last year, the Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti said yesterday.
As of the end of July, 337,600 hectares had gone up in smoke, according to the European Forest Fire Information System, which recorded a loss of 358,500 hectares for all of 2006.
“If you consider that easily more than 20,000 hectares have burned so far this month, notably in Greece and Italy, this year is worse than ever,” spokesman Paolo Falcioni said.
Greece has been battling multiple forest fires since June, fanned by three heat waves – the latest last week – and months of drought. Tens of thousands of hectares have gone up in smoke, making this summer’s fires the worst in 10 years.
In Italy, more than 2,500 hectares of forest land have been destroyed in the northern Sicilian region of Cefalu so far this month.
Forest officials blame four years of drought in southern Italy and the failure to impose laws that prohibit construction on burned-out areas.