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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers 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.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid