Bcharre, November 5, 2017 – USAID’s Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) organized a planting day to celebrate the closing of their # #مش_كل_مرة_بتسلم_الشجرة national awareness campaign around “Forest Fires.” This campaign, which started in October 2017, increases public awareness of environmental protection, disseminates knowledge, and instills a national commitment to forest fire prevention and reforestation. The event was held under the patronage and in the presence of the First Lady of Lebanon, Mrs. Nadia Aoun, and in the presence of U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Edward White, and other local officials. Organized in close collaboration with the Municipality of Bcharre, the Friends of the Cedar Forest Committee, this activity will contribute to Lebanon’s “40 million Trees” program.
Over 2,000 volunteers gathered at the top of Arz Bcharre Mountain and planted 5,000 cedar seedlings. Volunteers from Bcharre families and neighboring communities, scouts and activists, representatives of civil society, private sector employees, as well as university and school students from across the country participated in the project. They also visited the Cooperative of Native Tree Producers of Lebanon greenhouse and learned more about sowing tree seeds.
Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukoz, Special Assistant to the President of the Lebanese Republic H.E. General Michel Aoun and President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, highlighted that working on Lebanon’s environmental issues, and especially on reforestation to reconnect the cedar corridor, is a national priority. Building people’s awareness of forest fires and engaging them in such activities to plant trees is one of the easiest and most sustainable ways to create positive change in their environment.
DCM White emphasized the U.S. government’s commitment to this environmental conservation initiative. “Since 2011, USAID, through LRI, has planted nearly 720,000 native tree seedlings in various regions of Lebanon, created 1,400 seasonal jobs, and engaged thousands of volunteers each year in its national awareness planting day campaigns.”
Mr. Freddy Keyrouz, Head of Bcharre Municipality, praised the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative project for its work and in spreading environmental culture in the Lebanese society by encouraging the youth to participate in reforestation and environmental awareness campaigns. He also thanked the USAID for funding this project, which is considered a vital project for the region.
Mr. Antoine Tawk, President of the Friends of the Cedar Forest Committee, thanked USAID and the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative and all participating volunteers for their support in increasing Bcharre’s forest cover.