Reforestation and Afforestation
Lebanon has been noted for its rich forests since the area was dominated by the Phoenician civilization around 1000 BCE. At that time, Lebanese cedars (Cedrus libani) were in demand around the Mediterranean and were traditionally thought to have been used in the construction of Solomon’s temple and Phoenician ships.
Today, forests cover approximately 13 percent of the total land area of Lebanon, making it one of the most forested countries by total percentage in the Middle East. However, Lebanon has lost large forest areas due to expansion of urbanization, forest fires, and illegal cutting.
Lebanon’s forests provide many ecosystem services. In Lebanon’s mountainous terrain, trees decrease soil erosion and water runoff by stabilizing hillslopes and aiding in the infiltration of rainfall. These services promote the formation and protection of soils and increase the availability of groundwater in local aquifers. Forests also provide direct and indirect economic benefits to rural communities, either through edible and marketable products or through rural tourism, beekeeping and related value chains that benefit from the presence of forests.
To address the serious threats posed by deforestation, the Lebanese Ministry of Environment (MoE) initiated the National Reforestation Plan (NRP) in 2001 to increase total forest cover up to 20 percent over 20 years. the NRP went through three phases, the last launched in 2009.
In 2012, the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) launched the National Afforestation and Reforestation Plan (NARP), known as the 40 Million Tree Campaign in which Lebanon commits again to increase the forest cover from 13% to 20% by 2030.
Several projects were since developed by local organizations and international and national donors to support the 40 Million Trees target. Examples of large-scale reforestation projects include:
- The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) and Livelihoods in Forestry (LiF) projects implemented by LRI and funded by USAID
- The Smart Adaptation of Forest Landscapes in Mountain Areas (SALMA) project implemented by FAO Lebanon in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, funded by GEF
- PARSIFAL project funded by AFD and implemented by the CDR in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture
Local organizations working on reforestation in Lebanon include:
- The Lebanese Reforestation Initiative (LRI)
- The Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC)
- Jouzour Loubnan (JL)