Update: three years after the forest fires in Greece

The regeneration of nature is progressing at an incredible pace.
burned forest near Athens

In August 2021, the northern outskirts of Athens burned while another 180 fires raged across the country at the same time. Greece lost eleven percent of its forest cover during this fire season. Almost three years after the fires, the regeneration of nature north of the capital is progressing at an incredible pace.

Of course, the destruction of the fires will still be visible for an extremely long time and deadwood will dominate the landscape, but a vegetation cover will cover the previously bare earth and thus protect against soil erosion again.

What was already apparent in the year after the fires is now becoming clear: life is quickly reclaiming the space.

Horizontal barriers built in places from burnt trees to prevent soil and biomass from being washed away now form valuable biotopes as Benjes hedgerows.

A large number of the shrubs seem to have the ability to sprout again from the rootstocks after forest fires.

In a few years, they will have caught up with the old dead branches.

With pine trees, the trees have to grow back completely and cannot rely on their roots. The saplings that have now sprouted in many places have been forming side branches since last year and will have reached the first meter in one to two years despite the dry climate in summer.

Here, 10 pine trees are competing for the space formerly occupied by their predecessor. However, it will be several years before they can dominate the landscape again.

All in all, the development gives a lot of hope that there will soon be a kind of forest here again, even if the signs of climate development for Greece continue to point strongly to devastation, with heatwaves regularly becoming longer and stronger.

Matthias Fritsch is part of the core team of the forest garden in Rehfelde. For professional and private reasons, he is regularly on the road with the European long-distance bus network between Berlin and Athens & as a filmmaker documents phenomena related to climate change. As a freelance artist he develops his own solutions and routines for a resource-saving everyday life. In Rehfelde he initiated e.g. the experimental gardens, the shade tree nursery and the seedlings forest.