Adopting trees and parks is no longer enough: In Greece, forests are being adopted

As southern European leaders gathered for the EUMed9 Summit in Athens last week to discuss ways to tackle climate change, a group of businesses on the island of Rhodes took matters into their own hands.

Nineteen businesses from the local tourism sector have decided to adopt a forest in the center of island in a bid to ensure that it is properly taken care of in the future.

For the next ten years, the businesses will collectively nurture the forest area stretching over 494 acres, with the help of non profit group Giatifisi (which means ‘For Nature’ in Greek). The forest there had been largely destroyed in a fire in 2008 and has yet to recover.

The move is similar to initiatives seen in other European countries as problems connected to climate change increase, particularly in the Mediterranean area.

In Italy and Spain, programs run by local governments allow individuals or businesses to adopt a piece of nature though the move is normally limited to parks or trees.

The Greek program involves cleaning up the forest from dry branches that can help fuel wildfires, supporting its reforestation and preventing any illegal building activity in the district, located close to the Gadoura dam.

“It is the first time in Greece where a large number of emblematic tourism companies have come together with a common vision to undertake a multi-year commitment that will take care of a large forest area,” said Giatifisi in a statement.

The initiative also include the participation of regional, local government and fire fighting authorities, along with tourism and forestry officials.

Apart from ensuring that tourists will have healthy woodlands to visit, the businesses backing the plan are also boosting their green profile as travelers become more aware of action taken by hotels to help the environment.

The participating businesses are:

1. Rhodes Hoteliers Association

2. H Hotels (Hatzilazarou group)

3. Esperia Group (Vasilaki group)

4. Rodos Palace & Mediterranean Hotel (Kambouraki group)

5. Lindos Hotels (Minettos group)

6. Olympic Palace & Porto Angeli Resort (Jack Geronikola group)

7. Markopoulos Group of Hotels (Markopoulos group)

8. Atrium Hotels (Konstantinidis - Chatzikonstantinou group)

9. Aeonian Nisos Sublime Hotels & More (Ioannidis Group)

10. Blu Collection (Kalioudaki - Roditi group)

11. Harmony Resorts (Katri group)

12. Amada Colossos & Park Hotel (Soulounia group)

13. Sheraton Rhodes (Sheraton Group)

14. Rhodes Bay & Elite Suites by Rhodes Bay (L&R Group)

15. Semiramis Hotel (Inza family)

16. Cactus Hotel & Aquarium View Hotel (Karagianni Group)

17. Association of Tourist Offices

18. GEM Travel (Michalaki family)

19. Marina Rhodes