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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs