The preservation of the largest public park of Lebanon’s capital has been a subject of conflict and concerns. Reduced to a triangle of 330, 000 sqm (originally 1.25M sqm), due to deforestation, infrastructure expansion, and built development, the urban park of Horsh Beirut is now under an environmental project of three phases, implemented by the Rotary Club Beirut Cedars in partnership with Beirut Municipality.
The first phase of the project was recently launched under the patronage of the Governor of Beirut, Judge Ziad Chebib, with the support of the Rotary Club of Beirut Cedars, in a ceremony attended by numerous local figures and officials.
That first phase included the rehabilitation of two running tracks within the Horsh, equipping them with 26 signs at a rate of one every hundred meters, installing 20 seats in the outdoor garden, and providing 10 baskets for sorting waste.
Among those who attended the inauguration ceremony were MP Rola Tabash representing Prime Minister Saad Hariri; Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati; MPs Fouad Makhzoumi and Edgar Traboulsi; Beirut Municipality Council members Gaby Ferneini and Aram Malian; Governor Shaukat Tadros of the Rotary District 2452; as well as club officials and a large number of Rotarians.
The series of speeches was initiated by the president of The Rotary Club Beirut Cedars, Mr. Antoine Keldany who talked about the importance of the project. He explained. "The next phase, which will be implemented later, will include equipping a section of the Horsh with the necessary equipment for various physical exercises and setting up a children's play area."
In his speech, Governor of Beirut Judge Ziad Chebib spoke about the draft law that was approved by the House of Representatives concerning the protection of Horsh Beirut. "This Horsh has become a legal status distinct from all other green spaces. I thank all the deputies who voted for it, especially the deputies of Beirut, and the one who proposed this law, MP Fouad Makhzoumi."
Speaking about the initiative of the Rotary Club Beirut Cedars, Judge Chebib said, "In light of the human activities that harm the environment today and lead to the reduction of green areas and increase pollution, the Rotary Club of Beirut Cedars comes to support this initiative, contributing to equipping the Horsh."
From her side, MP Rola Tabash thanked, in the name of the Prime Minister, the Beirut municipality and the Rotary Club Beirut Cedars for this valuable initiative, praising "the work of Rotary clubs in the service of civil society away from politics."
MP Tabash considered that "this environmental project is one of the most important projects needed by Lebanon in general and Beirut in particular." In her words, "Horsh Beirut is one of the most important wealth in the capital." She added in conclusion, "The big thanks is to Minister Jreissati who is working very positively to change the environmental concept and keep it out of politics."
Horsh Beirut is also known as Horsh El Snoubar or Bois de Pins (the Pine Forest). For two decades, this urban park was inaccessible to Lebanese over concerns of violence and littering, although Westerners were often allowed in. In 2015 Beirut’s governor Ziad Chebib reopened it after 20 years of closure with public visits restricted to once a week.