Kick starting the 2019 reforestation and afforestation campaign in Lebanon

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05 November 2019
Kick starting the 2019 reforestation and afforestation campaign in Lebanon
The “Smart Adaptation of Forest Landscapes in Mountain Areas” (SALMA) FAO-led project, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), kicked off the 2019 reforestation and afforestation activities in Lebanon. In collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, and in partnership with municipalities and local NGOs, the activities started in the first week of November 2019 and resulted in the planting of around 9,000 seedlings in different parts of Lebanon.

On November 5, 2019, SHEILD NGO partnered with Taybeh municipality and the World Food Programme (WFP) in planting 3,500 seedlings out of the 36,000 planned for Taybeh, Nabatieh. SHEILD aims at planting 5,000 seedlings per week till the end of 2019 depending on weather conditions. “SHEILD and FAO are working together to restore and compensate for what has been lost of green areas of Lebanon. This could be the first step in the thousand miles journey to restore the Green Lebanon”, said Ayman Alroz, SHEILD Executive Director.

For its part, Jouzour Loubnan NGO planted 3,000 cedar seedlings out of the 16,650 to be planted over an area of 20 hectares in Jaj Cedars Nature Reserve up till October 2021. According to the NGO, which is collaborating closely with Mount Lebanon local authorities and municipalities, these initiatives are a great success and have a positive impact on local communities, which expressed a deep sense of gratitude.

In the Jurd of Keserouan, the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) planted 2,000 seedlings of Cedrus libani, Juniperus exelca, Pyrus syriaca and other species. In Keserouan, LRI adopted an integrated land use planning approach taking into consideration many environmental factors and land users, including shepherds, hunters, and tour operators. Juan Hobeiche, Head of the Keserouan Union of Municipalities, participated in the LRI afforestation activity and highlighted its importance in the conservation and sustainable management of forests. “Afforestation and reforestation have a socio-cultural impact as they push citizens to be attached to their home country and land” Hobeiche said. “We are trying to get students, scouts, and NGOs involved in such activities. We will also involve the staff of the Union of Municipalities in the planting,” he added.

The SALMA project will continue the reforestation and afforestation activities throughout the year in partnership with several NGOs and municipalities in Lebanon. In South Lebanon, FAO will be working with the Association for Forests, Development and Conversation (AFDC) and AMWAJ of the environment and SHEILD. In North Lebanon, the activities will be carried out in partnership with Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve and the Committee of Cedar Forest Friends. In the Bekaa, Cooperation Without Borders for Tailored Development (CWB), the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST) and LRI will be implementing the activities in close coordination with municipalities and local stakeholders; while Oaks & Cedars will be planting on the slopes of Hammana.

The reforestation and afforestation efforts are taking place within the framework of FAO’s ongoing support to “The 40 Million Trees Pogramme” launched by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2012. This programme aims at increasing the Lebanese forest cover from 13 percent to 20 percent by 2030, by planting 70,000 ha (40 million trees). Through the SALMA project, the largest FAO forestry project in the Near East Region, FAO is also promoting a climate resilient and participatory sustainable forest management approach that aims at maintaining and restoring connectivity within ecological corridors, while improving the income of vulnerable households living in mountainous areas. 

“Afforestation and reforestation have a socio-cultural impact as they push citizens to be attached to their home country and land”