Press Releases 2012
U.S. Embassy Celebrates Earth Day in Qlaiaa
April 21, 2012
The U.S. Embassy celebrated Earth Day with local students and their families in Qlaiaa today at the School Environmental Education and Reforestation Festival, sponsored by the U.S. Government and hosted by the Qlaiaa municipality and Reforest Lebanon, a local NGO. Deputy Chief of Mission Richard M. Mills, Jr. and representatives from the Ministry of Environment were on hand to help celebrate the recent reforestation of 26 hectares of Qlaiaa municipal lands with over 25,000 trees. These lands, which had been ravaged by wild fires and were fully demined in 2006, have been reforested with 25 species of native trees, including cedars and pines. During the course of the festival, participants visited the reforested site where local students laid stones around trees planted recently by municipal workers to protect the trees from encroaching weeds and to help trap water.
More than 350 families from Qlaiaa and neighboring villages, including 80 students from St. Georges Elementary School and Qlaiaa Intermediate School, attended the event, viewed a film about protecting the environment, and toured an exhibition of the students’ creative environmental works. The students proudly highlighted their research projects and drawings on tree planting and protection of forests and the environment. At the conclusion of the festival, Mr. Mills presented certificates to fifteen community planters and a forest guard in recognition of their efforts and dedication to reforesting Lebanon.
The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) is a four-year, $11.9 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The collaboration builds capacities of environmental organizations and other Lebanese institutions to sustainably manage and expand the country’s forests, to catalyze the planting of hundreds of thousands of native trees on selected sites across Lebanon, and to establish a financially and technically endowed foundation to continue supporting reforestation at enhanced levels over the long term. The program selected Tannourine and Bcharre in the North, Qlaiaa in the South, and Anjar, Kfar Zabad and Rachaya in the Bekaa as initial sites to be reforested with approximately 25 species of native trees, including cedars and pines. They will be planted with more than 300,000 native tree seedlings grown under modern production methods using advanced nursery equipment provided under the project. Additional sites will be addressed in future stages of the program. LRI is part of USAID’s environmental program to engage local communities in preserving Lebanon’s natural resources.