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Support Programme for Volunteer Forest Firefighter Teams: 4,009 forest fire protection volunteers across Greece received significant support
DATE
19 Dec '23
FIELD
SOCIAL ACTION & SOLIDARITY

Aiming at activating Civil Society for the effective protection of forests, NPF Desmos, WWF Hellas and HIGGS have offered tangible support to those operating on the front line of fire protection.

 

Volunteers are both a key element of the forest fire protection mechanism and one of the most active parts of Civil Society. Thus, the Support Programme for Volunteer Forest Firefighter Teams aims to train, enhance and contribute to the work of volunteer teams in terms of both forest fire prevention and response to forest fires. The programme, with a budget of 650,000 euros, is being implemented by NPF Desmos, in cooperation with WWF Hellas and HIGGS, in the framework of the "Protovoulia ’21" initiative and with the support of the Athina I. Martinou Foundation, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and the National Bank of Greece.

Protovoulia ’21 was set up on the occasion of the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution and is the result of the consistent cooperation between public benefit, cultural and scientific institutions across the country and the National Bank of Greece. The initiative continues to develop its activity focusing on actions in the field of Climate Change and the Environment.

The Support Programme for Volunteer Forest Firefighter Teams has given to thousands of volunteers across the country access to the necessary equipment and training to increase their level of preparedness for fighting forest fires, both in the short and in the longer term.

In this context, from April 2022 until today, 50 volunteer forest firefighter teams operating throughout the country have received equipment. The selection of the recipient teams was made using a very specific and tested methodology that included questionnaires, personal interviews and on-site visits, in order to identify the needs and specificities of each team, as well as the area in which they operate, and thus create a personalised and targeted support plan.

At the same time, 85 volunteer teams across the country received training through specialised workshops, gaining new knowledge about safety in forest firefighting, the new data in relation to the climate crisis and forest fires at international level, but also the critical role they can play in the post-fire restoration of forests. The last round of workshops will start in January 2024 and end in April 2024.

So far, the programme has offered significant support and training to a total of 4,009 volunteer forest firefighters across Greece.

In fact, out of 50 volunteer teams that received support, 47 teams played a key role in responding to this year’s major disastrous fires in Attica, Rhodes and Evros. The substantial contribution and implementation of the programme is also demonstrated through the fact that the knowledge gained from the training workshops and the equipment provided have already been put to full use during this year’s very demanding fire season. Their activities deep inside forest areas and their particularly intense work in the field have led to their equipment being severely worn down, causing in some cases damage to personal protective equipment and loss of materials (e.g. plant pipes).

These groups operate throughout Greece, cooperate closely with the Fire Service and in many cases play an important role in forest protection using their own resources. Given that the work of such teams is invaluable, and that they are in constant need of support, providing such support is both a recognition of their valuable work and an incentive for them to continue operating.

Initiatives such as the one in question highlight, in a very tangible way, the value and positive impact of volunteerism; they are among the most important investments available to ensure a more sustainable future for our forests and society as a whole.

Notes & accompanying materials:

 

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