On May 17, 2017, and under the auspices of the Head of the Islamic Endowment Department – Bekaa Sheikh Mohamad Abdul Rahman, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, celebrated with local communities the planting of 2,000 native tree seedlings on a religious endowment in Kherbet Rouha owned by the Islamic Endowment Department – Bekaa. The event was attended by Sheikh Abdul Rahman, the head of municipality of Kherbet Rouha, Qaemaqam Rachaiya, community members, neighboring municipalities, local associations, and scout groups.
The occasion highlighted the importance of reforesting lands owned by religious congregations, which represent approximately 40% of Lebanon’s land available for reforestation. Reforestation on land held by religious endowments will focus on planting native tree species that will generate income and create jobs for the local communities. This year, (LRI) initiated the planting of 5 hectares in Kherbet Rouha with native tree seedlings including stone pine, wild pine and bear plum. The Islamic Endowment Department is committed to ensuring the long-term care, regular maintenance, irrigation, and protection from grazing and fire.
During the event, Sheikh Abdul Rahman, Mr. El Tasse and LRI’s Project Director Dr. Maya Nehme, affirmed the importance of public-private partnerships in reforestation efforts between the private religious endowments providing the land and long-term maintenance, the local municipalities providing protection and available resources, and local NGOs and international donors providing financial and technical assistance. This partnership will help raise environmental awareness nationally and increase Lebanon’s green cover. Implemented by the United States Forest Service (USFS), this activity will feed into Lebanon’s 40 million tree program.