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. France to help rehabilitate burnt Greek farms, forests

by Staff Writers
Kremastos, Greece (AFP) Oct 8, 2007
French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier offered Monday to help rehabilitate Greek farms and forests ravaged by deadly fires and urged the creation of a European disaster management force.

"My country is ready to work with the Greek authorities to put in place prevention measures and to exchange our experiences," Barnier said after arriving on the island of Eubee, one of the areas hit badly by the August fires.

Barnier also said that the fires in Greece backed up the case for a proposed rapid response European disaster management unit, which he has supported.

"The idea is that every country chooses a specific area and puts up resources for it," he said.

"Following that, we could have a centre in Brussels to control all operations in the case of any catastrophe, be it a major fire, an oil spill ... or a terrorist attack," he said.

Disastrous fires swept through southern Greece in August destroying more than 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of forest and farmland, and claiming 67 lives.

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Australia approves major pulp mill despite environment fears
Sydney (AFP) Oct 4, 2007
The Australian government approved Thursday plans for a controversial multi-billion-dollar pulp mill in Tasmania despite objections it could ruin one of the country's most pristine environments.

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