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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid