On the banks of the Musa River, between Akkar Governorate and Denniyeh District in North Lebanon, lives a plethora of majestic old trees that give the place a special aura of beautiful natural seclusion and unscathed primitive existence. Unscathed, that is, until recently.
These perennial trees have been getting chopped down by meddling, insolent intruders for no reason other than the wicked joy they seem to get out of inflicting harm. That can be concluded by the fact that the trees are being left lying right where they were cut down.
In the Harar forest in the northern area of Ouyoun El-Samak, the cut trunks of 6 Platanus trees of around 40-centimeter diameters were abandoned near their stumps; some of these trunks were even still partially attached to their bases.
After the news of the vandalism spread in Lebanon, the Minister of Agriculture and Culture Abbass Mortada issued a statement via Twitter, commenting on the incident and sharing his plan of action:
"I have assigned a team from the Ministry affiliated with the Harar Forest Center at the Agriculture Department in the North to inspect the site, and inform me of the results in preparation for the pursuit of the aggressors in front of the competent judiciary."
بعد تداول أخبار عن عملية قطع أشجار معمرة في منطقة عيون السمك، كلفت فريقاً من الوزارة تابع لمركز أحراج نهر موس في مصلحة الزراعة في الشمال للكشف على الموقع وإفادتي بالنتيجة تمهيداً لملاحقة المعتدين أمام القضاء المختص— Abbass Mortada (@M_abbassmortada) February 2, 2020
Upon the inspection of the dead trees, the assigned team - constituted by the head of the Harar Forest Center, Khaled Abdulaziz Deeb, and with a group of forestry commissioners of the center - it was deduced that the trees had been indeed "cut down with the intent of harm."
Accordingly, the Harar Forest Center filed reports of their findings to be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Culture on one hand, and to the relevant security authorities on the other, in order to uncover the perpetrators of this environmental crime.
A few months ago, Lebanon lost more than 3,000 acres of densely forested areas, when the worst wildfires in decades engulfed thousands of its trees and charred entire forests in many different areas across the country.
Lebanon's biosphere has yet to recover from this disaster. The preservation of trees in Lebanon is a serious matter that must not be laughed off by careless, ignorant vandals. After all, the most pertinent symbol of Lebanon, centering its flag, is a tree.
Trees, therefore, are not only an essential part of our habitat as humans but also a part of our culture and identity as Lebanese. It is very important, then, that we do what we can to preserve and develop our forests, and put an end to the unlawful activities that aim to destroy them.