Wildfires Response Extraordinary Programme
Wildfires Response Extraordinary Programme

In the aftermath of the wildfires that struck Greece in August 2021, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation implemented an emergency grants programme aimed at contributing to the long-term upgrading of prevention and firefighting mechanisms for wildfires, enhancing national fire readiness, providing immediate relief to those affected, and restoring the fire-stricken areas. Through thorough investigation and prioritisation of existing needs, the Foundation decided to implement a comprehensive bundle of targeted interventions along three areas: Prevention/Repression, Restoration, and Relief for fire-stricken areas. In this light, within 2022, the Foundation put into action the following grants:

  1. Donation to the Ministry for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, in partnership with the Hellenic Bank Association (HBA) by means of a lease of four Air-Tractor firefighting aircrafts, which enhanced the forest firefighting capacity and met the operational needs of the Hellenic Fire Service personnel during the 2022 fire season, allowing them to carry out their work in a safe and effective way. Furthermore, thanks to this grant, the Fire Service has been, for the first time, able to use wildfire retardant liquid in a special mixing facility at the Dekelia Air Base.
  2. Donation to the Ministry for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection to cover the supply of personal protective equipment to 3,000 volunteer firefighters of the Hellenic Fire Service, in partnership with the Athina I. Martinou Foundation. The personal protective equipment, consisting of firefighting uniforms, firefighter helmets with torch and firefighter boots, and manufactured in accordance with special high-standard technical specifications, was delivered in view of the 2023 fire season; it is expected to contribute to the timely preparation of the volunteer firefighters, significantly upgrade their operational capacity and enhance their safety within the forest environment.
  3. Donation for the implementation of the “Support Programme for Voluntary Forest Fire Protection Teams” an initiative by NPF Desmos, WWF Greece and HIGGS that aims at training, strengthening and supporting forest firefighter teams in the prevention and response to forest fires and the protection of the natural regeneration of forests. The Programme, which will run until 2024, is also supported by the Athina I. Martinou Foundation and the National Bank of Greece, and includes a series of training workshops aimed at providing volunteers with the required specialised knowledge, as well as an integrated plan to cover their needs in terms of equipment. 
  4. Donation to support the integratedReconstruction Plan for Northern Evia, which aims to reconstruct and build an environmentally and economically viable, better future for the municipalities of Istiaia-Aidipsos and Mantoudi-Limni-Agia Anna, which were severely affected by the prolonged wildfires. This tremendous environmental disaster negatively impacted the region’s identity as a residential network and a soft tourism destination integrated into a highly aesthetic natural landscape. It also dramatically limited the part of the local production system that depended on the forest (timber, resin, apiaries) or the adjacent crops and groves, which were destroyed in the fires. Crucial for the implementation of the Programme has been the preparation of 13 development plans, which were completed in December 2022 and brought light on all aspects of public and private life: Infrastructure, New Forest, Agri-Food Sector, Human Resources, Health and Welfare Networks, Urban Planning, Tourism and Marketing, Culture and Education. The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation funded the implementation of three distinct studies of horizontal intervention, concerning the “Digital Wave”, the “Green Zone”, and the “Innovation Space”. Further information is available on the Master Plan of the Programme, accessible here (in Greek). 
  5. Donation to support the organisation of the 1st Interdisciplinary School for Environmental Crisis (ISEC), which took place in December 2022, organised by the ARISTEiA Institute in collaboration with the “DIAZOMA” Association and the Northern Evia Reconstruction Committee. The main goal of ISEC is to educate the new generation of scientists to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the environmental crisis, through the integration of sciences that encompass a wide range of disciplines, such as Biology, Environmental Sciences, Medicine, Law, Economics, and Social Sciences. The Programme was offered to participants free of tuition and comprised scientific lectures, skills development workshops, career counseling, as well as presentations of research projects aimed at designing solutions for complex problems related to the impact of the climate crisis on the environment and the local economy. Northern Evia was chosen to host ISEC due to its unique environmental, economic, and social footprint resulting from the ecological disaster caused by the 2021 wildfires in the region.
  6. Donation for the procurement and reforestation of olive trees in the area of Ancient Olympia, as part of the international initiative of the Arete Fund non-profit organisation. The goal of the “Replanting the Olive Groves of Ancient Olympia” initiative was to remedy the multifaceted damage suffered by both the natural resources of the region and the local community. 
  7. Donation to the Region of Central Greece (Designated Account of the Regional Development Fund) to cover the necessary cost of accommodating 839 wildfire affected citizens from Northern Evia, who were forced to evacuate their homes and temporarily stayed in 31 hotels in the broader area.
  8. Founding donation for the establishment and operation of the Salvia Burn Association NPO, the only organisation for burns and burn victims in Greece. The organisation was created on the initiative of two volunteer residents from Mati, in response to their actions to support burn victims of the July 2018 wildfire. The organisation carries out activities in four areas: support for burn victims, burn prevention, advocacy, and support for Health Units to improve their care and rehabilitation services for burn victims in Greece. During its first year of operation, the organisation advocated for and achieved the establishment of the National Burns Registry for burn victims from all causes, thus securing that pharmaceutical needs of such victims are covered, while, with the support of the Hellenic Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (HESPRAS), it established 16 December as the National Burns Prevention Day, an initiative that was adopted and recognised at national level. Furthermore, the organisation developed two educational programmes approved by the Ministry of Education to raise awareness and provide information to elementary school students, while it continued to support and empower burn victims of all ages (especially children and people from vulnerable social groups) throughout the challenging journey of treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, offering a comprehensive programme of psychological, legal and socio-economic support, as well as a safe framework for mutual support and networking with other burn victims.
  9. Donation in support of the research and educational programme Blood Donation 365, implemented by the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Blood Donation Unit of the “Aretaieio” University Hospital. Recognising that the Health Sector is a crucial link in the management of any emergency situation, the Foundation supported this Programme, which aims to develop an integrated strategic communication plan for the attraction, retention and awareness of volunteer blood donors in Greece through innovative practices. As part of the initiative, a comprehensive awareness campaign was created, providing all the necessary information to eliminate fear regarding volunteer blood donation, with the goal of creating a new generation of conscious blood donors who embrace the generosity mindset and regular donation. The programme also included training for recruiters to effectively approach and motivate potential volunteer blood donors. At the same time, volunteer blood donation events were organised in cooperation with the Blood Donation Services of university hospitals and municipalities in Attica, an educational conference was held for health visitors and volunteer blood donor recruiters, and educational activities were implemented in secondary education schools. 


Wildfires Response Extraordinary Programme
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