“Nature is reborn in places,” Nikos Georgiadis, an official with WWF Greece, told AFP.

But the woods and meadows, where some of Greece’s best honey was once made, will likely have to wait more than two decades to heal, experts say.

The best method: “let nature do its job on its own”, assures the forester Elias Apostolidis, who participates in the public plan for the recovery of the economy and the environment in the region.

According to him, only a small human intervention is necessary.

The most affected areas – around 5% of the burned area – will be replanted with seedlings collected elsewhere on the island, he told AFP.

In two weeks in August 2021, more than 46,000 hectares went up in smoke on Euboea, the second largest Greek island, located 80 kilometers east of Athens.

Houses, pine forests and olive groves had burned, as well as beehives and hundreds of animals. Faced with the advance of the flames, village after village, thousands of inhabitants and tourists had fled in an apocalyptic atmosphere.

Throughout Greece, from the Peloponnese to Euboea via the suburbs of Athens, fires ravaged forests and villages last summer, killing three people in total, under the effect of a strong heat wave throughout the south of Greece. Europe, as far as Turkey and Algeria.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had clearly linked these fires to climate change and pledged hundreds of millions of euros for reconstruction, reforestation and flood prevention on the island of Euboea.

Civil Protection also has a budget of 1.7 billion euros in anticipation of the fire season, which has already started in Greece, hit by scorching temperatures.

– “Even better than before” –

Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged last year to “rebuild northern Evia even better than before”.

On the ravaged Greek island, the reforestation campaign has begun.

“Some plants are more resistant than others,” says Elias Apostolidis, ten months after the Euboea disaster.

The expert found that only 6% of black pines survived the flames, compared to 42% of broadleaf oaks.

“We now know concretely how forests behave in relation to fire and we must take this into account in the future”, he says, “we have listed, species by species, the percentage of plants that survived”.

The state removed charred tree carcasses, removed unsalvageable vegetation and began infrastructure work to help reforestation, prevent erosion and flash flooding.

But it will take “20 to 25 years” for the forest to resume, estimates Nikos Georgiadis. Provided there is no other fire.

– “It’s over for us” –

For many residents, it is already too late.

Yannis Dimou, a 66-year-old shepherd, lost more than 60 animals and three sheepfolds in last year’s fire. He only has a dozen animals left.

“We can’t do anything with so few animals, it’s over for us,” he laments. Especially since he is not entitled to state aid, for lack of adequate operating licenses.

Same disastrous situation for the beekeepers of an island which sheltered approximately 40% of the national production of honey.

“Beekeepers won’t be able to collect honey for years,” said Stathis Albanis, president of the Istiaia beekeepers’ cooperative in northwestern Evia.

Unless you “move” to other regions of Greece.