The National Reforestation Plan (NRP)
Forest Degradation in Lebanon
In 2001, the Lebanese government allocated a 25 billion Lebanese Pounds fund issued through the national budget law, “Loi Programme” number 326 date 28/6/2001, and scheduled over five years for the execution of reforestation projects at the national level. For this purpose the Lebanese Ministry of Environment was handled the prerogative of initiating the National Reforestation Plan (NRP), aiming at the restoration of the country’s green cover loss throughout the years.
As to the rationalism of forest degradation in Lebanon, the process may be attributed to a number of direct or indirect crucial factors and practices:
- Uncontrolled tree chopping
- Forest fires
- Quarries and crushers
- Urban spreading and migration
- Agricultural land expansion
- Climate change
- Lack of public awareness
- Socio-economic settings
The consequences of forest degradation on ecosystems and their components may be described as immoderate and could be translated through the following:
- Soil erosion
- Loss of fauna and flora biodiversity
- Micro-climate change
- Loss of soil organic matter and soil fertility
- Decrease in soil water infiltration and stored underground water
- Increase in run-off which leads to mudslides and floods.
At the present time, forests and woodlands cover approximately only 13.32 % of the overall area in Lebanon: 4.89% dense woodlands, 8.43% clear woodlands (according to the land cover-land use maps, issued by Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, LEDO, MSC, CNRS, National Center for Remote Sensing, January 2004); whereas it was believed to have coated a large portion of the Lebanese territory in the past. Forests maintain a protective and socio-economical role, however these should cover around 20% of the country’s territory in favor of attaining an ecological balance in a well-integrated land use plan.
Establishment of the National Reforestation Plan (NRP)
Prior to this date, reforestation was lead by NGO’s or carried out in the form of independent exercises and personal initiatives. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture, through the Green Plan, had performed a number of reforestation projects. However, when the MoE undertook the mission, its aim had become to pioneer a long term sustainable reforestation project and thus implement the NRP through a well-devised strategy, taking into account the available means, requirements, priorities, local capacities and new technologies adopted in reforestation. This strategy tackled a short-term reforestation plan (5 years) as well as a long-term reforestation plan (projected over 30 years in order to attain the 20% land cover).
The activity of identifying selected land spots for reforestation was carried out by means of placing a Forest Map for Lebanon. Overlapping GIS maps on combating desertification (Ministry of Agriculture, GTZ, UNDP, 2003) and land cover-land use maps (LEDO, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, MSC, CNRS, National Center for Remote Sensing, January 2004) was used for this purpose. The selection of reforestation sites was also based on demands brought forward by municipalities in which criteria such as degraded rangelands were targeted, provided the land is owned by the the government, or municipalities. Moreover, there were further arguments on extending reforestation sites to include water basins in order to protect watersheds and underground water.
2003 reforestation works
A total of 305 hectares fairly distributed over 23 reforestation sites (localities) in the five Muhafazat, were replanted with indigenous (local) forest species. Special care was paid to the selection of the forest species in terms of ecological requirements and socio-economic needs in order to rehabilitate the local ecosystems and generate incomes for the local community. These species included cedar (cedrus libani), juniper (Juniperus excelsa), fur (Abies cilicica), pine (Pinus pinea, Pinus brutia, P. halepensis), cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), oak (Quercus calliprinos, Q. infectoria, Q. cerris), Carob (Ceratonia siliqua), wild almonds (Prunus amygdalis), and pistacio of palestine (Pistacia palestina). Through a bidding process, the MoE is executing the project by means of contracting specialized agricultural firms that comply the most with the required Technical Terms of Reference. These firms would be responsible of ensuring plantation and maintenance of forest seedlings for 2 years according to the technical terms of reference stated by the MoE. These ToR’s describe the detailed methods of execution required by the MoE for each location over a suitable timetable and in close coordination with respective municipalities.
The 23 localities were distributed over the following areas:
Mount Lebanon: (60 ha) Faraya and Barouk
North Lebanon: (60 ha) Akkar el Atiqa, Ehden, Bcharri, Tannourine
Bekaa: (80 ha) Lala-Baaloul, Khirbet-Anafar, Qaa el Reem, Ras Baalbeck, Chaat, Hermel, Rachaya, Jdita
South lebanon: (50 ha) Jezzine, Al Qraye, Abbassie, Majdelzoun
Nabatieh: (55 ha) Kfar Rummane, Rmeich, Ebel el Saki, Marjeyoun, Hasbaya
2004 reforestation plan (see map)
Recently, and following a new bidding process, the MoE appointed a new agricultural firm to perform the second phase of reforestation for the year 2004 in the five Muhafazat. The scheduled number of localities assigned for reforestation is twenty-four, constituting a total area of 361.5 hectares and distributed in the following fashion:
Mount Lebanon: (110 ha) Hrajel, Raachin, Al-Akoura, Hammana, Damour, Ehmej, Mchaa Ftouh Kesrwan
North Lebanon: (72 ha) Kfarhazir, Zghorta, Tannourine, Akkar el Atiqa,
Bekaa: (104.5 ha) Tajammoh Baladiyat El –Sahl*, Bouday, Chmestar, Al-Qaa, Al-fakeha-El Jadida, Baalbeck, Rachaya El-Wadi, El-Hermel, Sehmor
South Lebanon and Nabatieh: (75 ha) Al-Rihan, Zawtar Esharkieh, El-Merwanieh, Kherbit Selem, Markaba
The MoE disposes of a team of experts who carry out periodical supervision visits to reforestation sites, in order to verify that the planting operations and maintenance of tree seedlings are being handled in conformity with the ToR’s.
For further information please do not hesitate to contact the Service of Conservation of Nature, at the Ministry of Environment based in Antelias. Tel: 961-4-522222, Extensions: 451, 410, 455 and 417. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annex: Acknowledgment letter from Faraya Municipality
Reforestation team members:
- Lamia Chamas
- Adel Yacoub
- Nadim Mroueh
- Khalil Zein
- Lara Samaha
- Assaad Saadé
- Nabil Assaf
- Diane Klaimi
- Georges Akl