In collaboration with the Institute of the Environment, University of Balamand, the Municipality of Kaftoun held the official launch of Firewise-Lebanon on Saturday, October 25, 2014 in the Farid and Daad Karam Reserve (FDKR). Firewise-Lebanon is a pilot project in Lebanon that was implemented in partnership between the Biodiversity Program, Institute of the Environment, University of Balamand (BO, IOE, UOB) and the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the US Forest Service (USFS), in close collaboration with the FDKR committee and Kaftoun’s municipality and community.
The ceremony was inaugurated with welcome remarks from Mr. Nakhleh Fares, head of Kaftoun’s municipality, Dr. Jihad Attieh, executive president of the FDKR committee, Ms. Carolyn Bryan, USAID’s mission director, and Dr. Manal Nader, director of the Institute of the Environment. All speakers agreed on the importance of this project in that it offers a pilot program for fire risk management that can be applied within a relatively short specified period in various regions across Lebanon that are also exposed to fire risks.
Dr. George Mitri, director of the Biodiversity Program (BO, IOE, UOB) gave a presentation on the project’s background, process, objectives, and key outcomes. For his part, Dr. Mitri focused on the importance of this pioneer project which offers a cooperative approach to fire prevention in line with the National Strategy for Forest Fire Management in Lebanon, especially since it constitutes a link between the community, Kaftoun’s municipal council, the FDKR committee, and the academic sector. In this context, meetings and roundtable discussions had been held, resulting in an action plan that included activities suggested by the community. This was followed by the establishment of a small environmental committee that would meet regularly and follow up on the progress of activities according to the set action plan.
The event also included the screening of a documentary on the implemented project’s main activities. And in the end, everyone took part in the official opening of the first firefighting museum in Lebanon on the University of Balamand’s campus in the Farid and Daad Karam Reserve. All educational material and guidelines stemming from the project will be uploaded on both the Biodiversity Program’s page (home.balamand.edu.lb/widlfire) and LRI’s website (lri-lb.org).