Maaser El Chouf, November 6, 2016 – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), in partnership with the Shouf Biosphere Reserve and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Byblos Bank, and Radio One, organized a planting day in Maaser El Chouf as part of the #لتضل_عالعلم national awareness campaign for this year. The campaign, which started in October 2016, included TV and radio spots and interviews, social media awareness raising infographics, and a digital ad displayed in Beirut and greater Beirut.
The event was held in the presence of USAID/Lebanon Mission Director Dr. Anne Patterson, and the President of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve Charles Njeim. Dr. Patterson called the initiative “a model of successful collaboration to achieve sustainable reforestation.” Both voiced the importance of taking action by planting trees to mitigate climate change and its impact on the Cedar forests.
More than 1,600 volunteers participated in the planting day, including the Maaser El Chouf families and youth, neighboring communities, scouts and activists, along with civil society representatives, NGOs, private sector employees, university and school students from various Lebanese regions. Volunteers gathered at the top of the Maasser el Chouf Mountain to create an extended human chain and plant 5,000 Cedar seedlings. Standing hand-in-hand at an altitude of 1,900 meters above sea level, the human chain highlighted the new elevation of the tree line of the Maasser El Chouf Cedars Forest and sent a clear message on the need for all communities to work together to plant trees and combat climate change.
This national awareness campaign will increase the public interest in environmental protection, disseminate acquired knowledge, and instill a national commitment to climate change mitigation through reforestation. Implemented by the United States Forest Service, this activity will contribute to Lebanon’s 40 million tree program. The U.S. government has provided more than $1 billion in development assistance since 2007, including $115 million in the water sector and more than $4 million to support the LRI planting activities, which resulted in planting more than 600,000 native tree seedlings across Lebanon in the past five years.