News / Middle East

American Aid Helps Lebanon Replant Its Cedar Forests

American Aid Helps Lebanon Replant Its Cedar Forestsi
X
December 28, 2012 11:51 PM
Lebanon’s once mighty cedar forests survive today only as pockets of scraggly trees on mountain sides. VOA's James Brooke reports there now is a project to replant the ancient cedar forests. Lebanon’s government has set an ambitious goal of increasing the country’s forest cover by 50 percent by the year 2020.
James Brooke
The fragrant cedar forests of Lebanon were first recorded in the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, about 4,500 years ago.
 
But Lebanon’s once mighty cedar forests survive today only as pockets of scraggly trees on mountain sides.

Now, there's a project to replant the ancient cedar forests. Lebanon’s government has set an ambitious goal of increasing the country’s forest cover by 50 percent by the year 2020.

Going green

Hisham Salman runs Lebanon's Association for Forests, Development and Conservation. He said the government’s “Green Lebanon” slogan wins support across religious and sectarian lines in this fractured land.

“People who are living in the cities, they like this idea that Lebanon is a green country,” he said in an interview at a nursery in the Shouf Mountains. “They want to see it again green, so they like this idea - the planting of trees,” said Salman.

  • A sign by the entrance to the cedar and conifer nursery. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Cedar seedlings grow at a USAID-funded nursery maintained by Lebanon's Association for Forests, Development and Conservation. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Cedar seedlings grow at a USAID-funded nursery maintained by Lebanon's Association for Forests, Development and Conservation. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Cedar seedings that grow in longer, American-designed pots develop longer root systems and have a better survival rate. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Sanjoub the Squirrel teaches Lebanese children and villagers about protecting cedar forests from wildfires and goats. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • By twisting open a ripe cedar cone, a nursery worker exposes seeds ready for germination. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • In the craggy, inaccessible heights of what is now the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, cedars have survived through the centuries, largely out of reach of man. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • At high altitudes, cedars grow slowly and take pyramid shapes. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Cedar cones grow upward from a green carpet of flat boughs. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • High atop the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve at 2,000 meters altitude, some ancient cedars are over 1,000 years old (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The high altitude landscapes of the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve provide the southernmost extension of growing areas for the Cedars of Lebanon. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The high altitude landscapes of the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve provide the southernmost extension of growing areas for the Cedars of Lebanon. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • In ancient times, the tower cedars of Lebanon were cut and floated down mountain rivers to the Mediterranean for shipbuilding and temple construction. (V. Undritz for VOA)

The cedar is Lebanon’s national symbol, the center piece of the nation’s flag and shield.

The ancient Egyptians used cedar oil to mummify the dead.

The Phoenicians used cedar planks for their merchant ships. The Hebrews used cedar beams to build King Solomon’s temple.

The Bible mentions the cedars of Lebanon 75 times, including in Psalm 92: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree. They will grow like a cedar of Lebanon."

In 2005, mass rallies against Syria’s military occupation came to be known as “The Cedar Revolution.”

Fighting fires

On the conservation side, Lebanon created Sanjoub the Squirrel, a mascot who teaches children and villagers about preventing forest fires.

Salman said climate change is creating a longer season of wildfires.

“We notice that climate change is affecting the forest because, before, the fire season started in June-July,” Salman said. “Now in the last 20 years, the fires are starting in March. We have big fires in March and April. This, we think, is the global warming,” said Salman.

Prioritizing planting

Trees stabilize hillsides and protect mountain springs. Now, the goal is to plant one million trees a year. With American techniques, a USAID-funded program has doubled and tripled survival rates for saplings of cedar and other conifers.

Heath Cosgrove directs environmental projects for USAID Lebanon. "Here in Lebanon," he said, "USAID has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service, with a $12-million, 4-year project to reforest Lebanon, to restore it’s natural beauty, to help support the introduction of the national symbol, the cedar tree, which is represented on the Lebanese flag."

Up here in the Shouf mountains east of Beirut, some ancient trees were saplings 2,000 years ago, during the life of Jesus. Now, new seedlings are part of a plan to replant the legendary cedars of Lebanon.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: dyana z furmansky from: usa
December 31, 2012 11:31 AM
The deforestation in the Levant was one of the major influences on the work of George Perkins Marsh, while a US legate to Turkey appointed
by President Lincoln that led to his seminal book climate change. MAN AND NATURE was published in 1864, and is considered the fountainhead of the conservation movement.


by: musawi melake from: -
December 30, 2012 2:35 PM
In reality , this means that the agency is replanting it's spies to work for the interests of US, for wherever this agency works its wellknown this these people create haoc in the area.


by: William from: ARGENTINA
December 29, 2012 8:59 PM
What a amazing news about replanting of cedars in Lebanon!!
Thanks very much, USAID, for monetary and technical support!. News shows that not only the sense of national sign of lebanese national symbol, but also,the constitution of a worlds oxigen lung and wild heritage. i propose on the planting voluntary of trees, may be do by arab or christian people whom lost relatives in the war in Lebanon., Thus, the new cedars be atraction for birds and soil animals for the trees plantation would to be benefictable doublement. Thanks USAID, and Lebaneses in the Gobernments respectives again, William from Argentina

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid