The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), funded by USAID, celebrated the successful conclusion of a three-day tree planting campaign in recognition of International Women’s Day in Rachaya, Mount Lebanon.
The campaign, held under the international theme #PressForProgress, planted 1,000 native tree seedlings in three locations: Ehmej (Byblos), Ainata (North), and Rachaya El Wadi (Beqaa) villages. Tree plantings were done in close collaboration with the municipalities of Ehmej, Ainata and Rachaya. Over 300 people participated in the tree planting, including women groups, cooperatives, NGOs and associations from the North and Rachaya Social and Environmental Corridors, and community members from the region. These efforts build upon the LRI’s 2017 campaign, #PlantYourChange that encouraged women to participate in social and environmental activities.
At the campaign’s closing event, Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukouz, Special Assistant to the President of the Lebanese Republic H.E. General Michel Aoun and President of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, highlighted that the “Cultural Ecology”, as well as the way human beings treat and preserve the environmental elements around them, and making ethical and humanitarian choices towards nature, are all among the essential cultures needed to build a sound community. This culture is received at a young age, at home, and it grows with the human being to become a priority in his/her life and lifestyle. She added wondering: “Who’s more concerned than women in applying the “correct environmental education” in their daily lives and the lives of their children and families? And who’s more invited to share with men the workshop to ensure national advancement on all levels, be it political, social, economic or environmental?” She also affirmed that engaging women in the political action and decisions, as well as strengthening their role socially and economically, produce a direct and positive impact on a sound environment by taking and fully applying the adequate decisions.
Dr. William Butterfield, USAID/Lebanon Economic Growth Office Director, emphasized USAID’s commitment to supporting women and encouraging them to get involved in various social and environmental activities. “Women play a fundamental role in creating green landscapes and protecting Lebanon’s natural beauty. Through their efforts and with USAID’s support, Lebanon’s forest cover will continue to expand, and a culture of environmental awareness and action will be instilled in communities. Together, we achieved a key milestone of planting more than 750,000 trees on more than 1,000 hectares throughout Lebanon, something that would not have been possible without the leadership and influence of women.”
Dr. Maya Nehme, LRI’s Project Director affirmed the importance of engaging women socially and environmentally. “We will continue working on driving partner communities and municipalities to integrate women to achieve gender parity through reforestation. Women have a major role to play in all environmental activities, including reforestation and we want to make sure they get the opportunity to prove their potential.”
Mr. Bassam Dalal, Head of Rachaiya Municipality, said LRI planted over 80,000 native tree seedlings in Rachaya and highlighted LRI’s empowerment of women in Rachaya and regionally.