The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) and the Association for Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC) have recently launched a campaign titled "Don't Risk It" to prevent forest fires in Lebanon. The campaign online is rolling under the hashtag #DontRiskit.
This campaign is part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Livelihoods in Forestry (LiF) project. It was just launched in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment, the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Civil Defense, and the Disaster Risk Management Unit.
#DontRiskIt aims to educate municipalities and local community members through social networking sites on several actions that can help prevent forest fires. The campaign also included a workshop under the theme "Prevention and Readiness" that gathered municipal representatives from Lebanese villages that are at a high risk of forest fires.
The workshop trained the participants on various procedures to reduce and prevent forest fires, to prepare and respond if forest fires occur, and to know how to restore forests after a fire incident.
At the community level, LRI and AFDC (Association for Forests Development and Conservation) are also organizing days to clean up our forests at high risk of fire in order to reduce and prevent fires. These forests are located in the villages of Rashaya, Hamat, Qaraoun, Ramadi, Ashqqat, Sandal, and Dimmit - Chouf.
It is worth noting that Lebanon loses an average of 1,500 hectares of its woodland each year due to forest fires. In 2007, Lebanon lost around 4,000 hectares of its forests. The #DontRiskIt campaign reminds us that we are individually as responsible as the official institutions and associations for taking actions to protect Lebanon’s forests from fires.
It is worth mentioning that the Association for Forests Development and Conservation (AFDC) is a non–profit and non-governmental organization established in 1993. It works to:
- Achieve sustainable conservation of natural resources,
- Raise awareness,
- Build capacities that contribute to the national efforts for better environmental management.
AFDC works at a national level in more than 15 different locations in the North, the South, and Mount Lebanon, and that through volunteer units of up to 500 volunteers.
In that context, we urge all our readers to be consciously aware of the importance of preserving our forests. They are the holders of our homeland's soil, preventing its erosion, and the lungs on which our survival depends. From the air we breathe and the mitigation of climate change to providing watershed protection and habitats for our animals and livelihoods, our forests are crucial to us.