The top of Mount Olympus, covered with snow, the slopes of the mountain — steep. The road leading to the top, passes through the forest. But here and there the trees suddenly disappear. Here bother the locals.
The slopes of Mount Olympus have become one of the places where illegally felled timber. Over the past year, this practice has increased by 300% after the country increased taxes on a third of fuel oil, which is fired at home in Greece.
For many oil has become too expensive, and these people have switched to wood.
I came to Olympus with a team of foresters, who every day are trying to catch illegal loggers.
Over the last year they were able to hold a lot of people — from seniors to small bandits. It was instituted 250 court cases and seized 300 tons of illegally felled timber.
We stop at a clearing, where it was recently cut down a lot of trees — about 600 in this place alone. If you count the rings on one of the remaining stumps, it is clear that the tree grew here in ’54. It was cut down in a matter of seconds.
"I am very sad that the elderly come to cut down the forest," — says Petros Papapetrou from the Department of Forestry.
- Illegal lumberjack
At the foot of Mount Olympus illegally cut down trees old olive trees
"Awful, that in our time they have to do it. But this forest is important for us — there is a unique ecosystem that needs to be preserved for future generations."
But at the foot of the mountains, away from the rangers, I met an old man, cut down trees, despite the threat of criminal prosecution.
He chose a grove of old olive trees, and quickly earned a power saw.
"I know that breaking the law, but now my grandchildren do not get sick because of the cold," — he said.
"I have reduced pension, and I can no longer afford to buy fuel. What I do."
Firewood from illegally felled timber are usually in the markets. On the outskirts of the city of Katerini owner of one of the market stalls Trinatafilos Zagris says that business is going very well — unlike the other sectors of the economy.
"The sale has increased by a third," — he says, at the same time thrusting logs in raspilochnuyu machine that divides them into firewood.
"Earlier in our area was about 25 markets for the sale of firewood. 100 of them are here now."
Firewood buy the average family, such as family Smirli.
- Family Smirli
Both parents in the family Smirli several times already cut salaries
Dimitrios and Sofia — are both teachers, they have repeatedly cut the salaries of public policy of austerity.
After he was raised by a tax on oil, they would have to spend both their salaries only for home heating. Since then, they stoked the house with firewood.
Sofia and her daughter sleeping next to the stove in the living room — the bedroom is too cold. The whole family is difficult to reconcile with the fact that their life is more like a distant past.
"At first we were shocked and saddened by the fact that we have to live like this," — says Sofia, sitting next to the stove.
"People lived like 30 or 40 years ago. This is not war, but rather an economic war. Hopefully it will not last more than a year or two, because we have children, we are thinking about their future. Way to live."
Over their modest house from the chimney smoke coming — and this is another problem.
In the cities there was a noticeable Greece could because so many citizens at home stoked with wood.
In Thessaloniki, could become so thick that it is the local authorities concerned.
- Smog in Thessaloniki
In the cities of Greece was able to markedly increased
The city has a mobile laboratory where scientists study air quality.
Filters are changed every day, and they can see how dirty the air breathed by the townspeople. The filters are then sent for analysis.
The final results will be announced in February, however, the mobile laboratory say they have found an increased air pollution.
"We found a high concentration of small particles carrying toxic and carcinogenic substances," — says Professor Constantini Samara.
"The particles are so tiny that they can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause damage to health. They became much more due to the fact that people are stoked with wood houses."
In the Balkans, this year’s winter was particularly cold, and the lower the temperature drops, the greater will be chopped firewood.
At the beginning of XXI century, the Greeks have to live in the old way, just to keep warm.
Mount Olympus dominates northern Greece. In the past there was the abode of the gods, but today can not protect the mountain and the forest on its slopes, or countries in crisis.