Stripped of many of its forests during the past 30 years, Lebanon is engaging in a massive reforestation campaign with the help of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). In March 2013, the Army worked with the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the nongovernmental organization Jouzour Loubnan in Marjayoun district.
“Today, the efforts of UNIFIL Soldiers from the French and Spanish contingents, together with the LAF and Jouzour Loubnan, are an example of the cooperation that exists between civilians and the military. This is an activity that demonstrates our commitment toward maintaining stability and development in the south, and promoting trust and strengthening ties with Lebanon,” UNIFIL Gen. Alonzo Banos told the Daily Star.
The cedar tree is Lebanon’s national symbol and appears on the country’s flag to represent eternity, steadiness, happiness and prosperity. In the 1980s, 30 percent of Lebanon was covered in forests. During the past three decades this figure has dropped to about 13 percent.
“This is why we, at Jouzour Loubnan, are contributing to reforestation in Lebanon and raising awareness about the threats of desertification, in order to help local communities protect their natural resources and benefit from their environmental surroundings,” Jouzour Loubnan Vice President Magda Kharrat said.
In January 2013, the Army took part in a civil-military cooperation program to plant 10,000 seedlings across the country. Seeds were planted at Army road checkpoints and dropped by helicopter into mountainous areas.
Sources: CIA World Factbook, Lebanese Army, Daily Star (Lebanon)