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The Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC): An Overview
Lebanon’s Forests: Species and Distribution
- >Order the Book: Green Lebanon<

AFDC was established in 1993 to achieve sustainable conservation of natural resources, raise awareness and build capacities to contribute to the national efforts for better environmental management. Fundamental to AFDC’s mission is the pursuit of community-based conservation for the sustainable livelihoods of people. This comes from the idea that conservation will fail if local communities do not benefit from it.

AFDC’s objectives include:
- Developing local communities while maintaining conservation and the sustainable management of forests and natural resources.
- Capacity building and public awareness in fields and issues related to the environment and sustainable development.
- Conducting and disseminating studies and research related to different environmental and sustainable development issues.
- Lobbying for changes in environmental and sustainable development policies.
- Encouraging youth involvement and participation in development practices including working towards the establishment of youth centers and hostels.

AFDC works at the national level in 17 different locations in North, South and Mount Lebanon through its volunteers units from the local communities that involve up to date more than 500 volunteers.
Trough the units, AFDC implements its various programs aiming at achieving its mission. These programs are:
- Nature and Conservation and Development Programme (Forest fire fighting, Reforestation, Rural development, Eco-tourism).
- Outreach and Communication Programme (Environmental education, Capacity building, Media).
- Research and Project Development Programme (Environmental monitoring, Project development, Internships).
- Advocacy Programme (Environmental policies, Faith and Conservation, Relief).

AFDC strategy in Forest and Natural Resources Conservation:
1. Identify important forest areas in Lebanon.
2. Establish units of volunteers from the local community around important forest areas.
3. Assess local environmental needs.
4. Set priorities and develop and implement relevant projects and activities.
5. Implement AFDC Programmes.

More than 500 volunteers representing various local groups from different social, religious and cultural backgrounds are currently involved in AFDC programs and activities.

AFDC has a long record in implementing forest and forest fire-fighting projects in different areas in Lebanon and it works in partnership with public institutions like the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Defense, as well as with municipalities and private sectors.

It is worth noting that AFDC projects are in line with the national and international agendas of environmental conservation.

AFDC Forest Center:
- MFDCL Center (Mediterranean Forest Development and Conservation Center of Lebanon) located in Ramlieh village, Mount Lebanon.
- Mimess Forest Center located in Mimess village in Hasbaya, South Lebanon.
- Dmit Forest Center located in the Shouf area in Dmit village (to be inaugurated during 2008).
- Maten Forest Center located in Qornayel village in Baabda, Mount Lebanon (to be inaugurated during 2009).
- Andket Forest Center located in the village of Andket, North Lebanon (to be inaugurated during 2009).

AFDC Tree Nurseries:
- Ramlieh nursery (200000 seedlings annually).
- Mimess nursery (100000 seedlings annually).
- Ammatour nursery in Shouf area (200000 seedlings annually).
- Andket nursery in North (100000 seedlings annually).

Contact AFDC at:
Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC)
Marinian Center, 8th Floor
Near AUH , Hamra
Beirut Lebanon
Tel/Fax: 01-752670/1

Lebanon’s Forests: Species and Distribution >Order the Book: Green Lebanon<

“A Forest”, as defined by the Global Forest Resources assessment (FRA) report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2005, “is a land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agriculture or urban use”.

Forests are one of Lebanon’s most important natural assets. They have many uses and provide a range of valuable products and benefits. They offer not only environmental protection but also income and livelihood options for forest-dependent communities. Forests provide essential services such as carbon sequestration, shade, beautification, erosion control, and soil fertility; their trees can provide essential products such as timber, fruit, and medicine. Forests play an important cultural role, offering recreational opportunities and spiritual solace in urban societies. They are universally powerful symbols – a physical expression of life, growth and vigor.

The Forests of Lebanon are very particular in their variation and characteristics. They represent a unique feature in the arid environment of the Eastern Mediterranean. Until June 2006, they covered 13.2% of the overall area of Lebanon. A considerable number of forest species inhabit Lebanon’s mountains. These species can be regarded as relics of past humid vegetation and still grow sporadically in the remaining forest patches. The bulk of Lebanon’s forest area consists of oak and pine stands. In addition Lebanese forests contain a wide range of aromatic, wild and medicinal plants. In Lebanon, forests and other wooded land cover seem to be regressing, subject as they are to natural and human threats rapidly leading to their decline. Yet despite degradation of the vegetation cover, Lebanon is still regarded as very diverse, sheltering an estimated 4200 species. This diversity is mostly the result of the landscape’s physiography and the country’s strategic location at the crossroad of continents.

As for Lebanon’s terrestrial biodiversity, half the wild species of fodder plants are endangered due to uncontrolled urban development, over-grazing and land reclamation, which constitute a great threat to the habitat. Other types of plants are estimated to have a higher endemism and are not a great risk of extinction.

Following is a brief on the species and distribution of forests in Lebanon, courtesy of the State of Lebanon’s Forests 2007, a milestone report recently issued by AFDC (Association for Forests, Development and Conservation), Lebanon’s leading environmental NGO.

Oak forests
The Calliprine oak forests are currently found at the lower altitudes of the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon chain, covering an area of approximately 40000 ha. Also on the eastern slopes of Mount Lebanon, oak forests discontinuously extend, on low altitudes, between Yammouneh and Hermel and on the slopes of Jabal Barouk/Niha. On the western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon chain, only a few and diminutive oak stands persist, mainly east of Baalbeck, Masnaa and around Rachaya. Similary, in the south, only few degraded overgrazed oak forests still persist (in Jabal Amel).

Pine forests
Pine forests are found on the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon chain where they occupy an area of not more than 17000 ha. Stone pine forests extend on altitudes ranging between sea level and 1500 m, particularly in the Metn, Baabda, and Jezzine areas. Other types of pine forests are located at middle elevation where Calabrian Pine forests occupy a large area in the North, and Aleppo Pine forests extend over an area of 400-500 ha. in the southern part of the country (Cazas of Marjaaoun and Hasbaya).

Cedar, Fir and Juniper forests
The remaining evergreen cedar forests are distributed in patches on the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon Chain, accounting for an area not more than 2200 ha. due to severe degradation over the years. These cedar assortments are located in the northern part of the country in Karm Shbat, Ehden, Qamou’a, Danie, Bsharre, Hadeth- Tannourine and in Mount Lebanon in Jaj Bmohray, Ain-Zhalta, Barouk Maasser al-Shouf, and Niha.
Mixed forests of fir and cedar (with the latter in higher densities) are found in Qamou’a and in the southern-most limits of Ehden. On the other hand, around 2000 ha. of extremely degraded cedar stands are located, often within dominant strands of fir, juniper, and oak.
Sparse Grecian Juniper forests can be found also in patches on the eastern slopes of the mountain chain, specifically in the district of Hermel.
Since ancient times, all these forests have endured severe deforestation leading to their current degraded state, which is resulting in an intensively eroded soil. Yet these forests can be a main source of seed for further reforestation campaigns.

Evergreen Cypress
Evergreen Cypress forests are almost extinct in Lebanon; some remaining patches grow in Akkar, Ras Chekka area, Ehden, Karm-Sadet and Aito areas in combination with other tree types.

Forest Fires and their impact on Lebanese Forests >Order the Book: Green Lebanon<

During the last 40 years, more than 35 % of the initial forest cover in Lebanon has deteriorated. Forest fires, among other natural and human threats, have a major cause of this decline. To date, they continue to be one of the most dangerous threats endangering Lebanon’s forest and causing their decline.

Forest fires range in many parts of the country. Data on the number and extent of forest fires were sketchy until recently. Today, more data is available from several sources (Ministry of Agriculture, Civil Defense, Lebanese Army, local NGOs) but these data are not always mutually consistent. Current statistics refer to all forested areas affected by fires, whether charred or just superficially burned.

Between 1998 and 2000, according to Ministry of Agriculture statistics in 2005, approximately 3500 ha. Of forests were recorded as affected by fires, and a total of 1200 ha. of natural forests are burned annually. Forest fire data related to the last three years, as extracted from the Ministry of Environment’s forest fire database based on the Internal Security Forces report, indicated 129 fires in 2004 (resulting in 585 ha. of burned forest areas), 117 fires in 2005 (approximately 440 ha. of burned forest areas), and 144 fires in 2006 (approximately 874 ha. of burned forest areas), spread all over Lebanon.

According to AFDC, forest fires that occurred between 1993 and 2005 amount to 70.600 fires in different parts of the country. The number of yearly burned areas has tremendously increased in the year 2006-2007 due to the July war 2006 and to the October 2007 fires, which burned huge forested areas in only a few days.

October 2, 2007 was a black day for the environment in Lebanon. Enormous and simultaneous fires broke out in several forests and led to the deterioration, in some locations irreversibly, of more than 1500 ha of forest (12 million trees) of different land cover types. The total burned are in one day was approximately equal to three times what has been reforested in the country during the past 17 years.

Many of the forests destroyed by the flames were lost permanently without the possibility of regeneration (i.e. the forests which were burned down twice within a period of 10 to 15 years cannot produce any cones and cannot naturally regenerate anymore). Replanting of only 1500 hectares would cost no less than $7 million.

According to available data, humans are the primary causative agent of forest fires in Lebanon, either voluntarily or indirectly as a result of their activities, such as agricultural practices. The general public, through its lifestyle or livelihood activities, represents an important initiator of forest fires mainly due to lack of understanding cause of forest fires in Lebanon is lack of forest management.

Reason behind forest fire initiation, spread and high occurrence, include:
- Inadequate agricultural practices consisting of clearing large fields during the dry summer season using fire which can be easily spread to neighboring vegetation cover.
- Lack of law enforcement prohibiting fire use during the critical period extending from June to November.
- Limited availability of skilled human resources able to detect early fires and intervene on time.
- Lack of adequate equipment to protect against the fast spread of forest fires.
- Unavailability and inconsistency of available data pertaining to forest fire occurrence, resulting in incorrect and imprecise knowledge of the causes, behavior, and consequences of possible fires.
- Lack of public awareness of the importance of biodiversity conservation.
- Absence of a national government institution for forests that would integrate efforts of different parties and create a mechanism at the national level for fire assessment and monitoring, which can largely control forest fire occurrence and expansion. Such an agency could group resources and coordinate fire fighting operation in a more centralized and effective manner.

An important and useful forest fire database was created in a project implemented by AFDC, Arz Al Shouf Association, and Green Line (Masri 2005) by collecting, from different sources, information on forest fire occurrence between 1983 and 2003. Statistical analysis of the collected data indicated that: 1) August and September are the two months having the highest frequency of forest fires (25% to 27% of the occurred fires); 2) the majority of forest fires (70%) occur in the afternoon; 3) the average starting time of forest fires is 14:00 pm; 4) the tree types most affected by fires are thickets, olives, and fruit trees; and 5) the majority of fires are occurring in Mount Lebanon province or mohafaza (40 to 51%), followed respectively by the North (24 to 37%), the South (2 to 19%), and finally by Nabatieh in the South (1 to 9%).

The consequences of forest fires are disastrous on the natural environment and ecological systems not to mention the population, by increasing poverty and lowering the quality of life. In most burned areas, the damage and decrease of vegetation cover during dry summer periods is followed by rain, during which the unprotected topsoil is subject to severe erosion processes. The increasing frequency and intensity of fires can threaten floristic species diversity in Lebanon, even those plant communities which have been adapted to naturally occurring fires or are depending on fires to maintain themselves. On the other hand, the abandonment of controlled grazing activities in some areas can further contribute to the forest fire impact.

Finally, according to the World Bank report on the cost of environmental degradation in Lebanon (published in 2004), the cost associated with the deterioration of land and wildlife amounts to approximately 100 million USD/year (i.e. 0.6% of the GDP of Lebanon)

Information courtesy of State of Lebanon’s Forests 2007, the first report of its type in Lebanon. Published by AFDC, the report serves as a baseline database on Lebanese forests’ state, management, uses, and users while examining recent policy and institutional developments and key issues in the forestry sector.

Decree N. 2385 of 17/1/1924 as amended by law N. 76 of 3/4/1999 ( articles 2, 5, 15, 49 and 85 ) lays down as follows: The author of a literary or artistic work, by the very fact of authorship, has absolute right of ownership over the work, without obligation of recourse to formal procedures . The author will himself enjoy the benefit of exploitation of his work, and he possesses exclusive rights of publication and of the reproduction under any form whatsoever. Whether the work in question comes under the public domain or not those persons will be liable to imprisonment for a period of one to three years and to fine of between five and fifty million Lebanese pounds, or to either one of these penalties, who 1-will have appended or caused to be appended a usurped name on a literary or artistic work; 2-will have fraudulently imitated the signature or trademark adopted by an author, with a view to deceiving the buyer; 3-will have counterfeited a literary or artistic work; 4-or will have knowingly sold, received, or put on sale or into circulation a work which is counterfeit or signed with a forged signature. The punishment will be increased in the event of repetition.

 

 


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