St. John Monastery – El Khenshara, March 8, 2015 - To commemorate International Women's Day and celebrate the launch of the GREAT project (Greening the Ancient Terraces) aiming to restore previously terraced lands, a reforestation campaign was organized on the terraces of St. John Monastery – El Khenshara with the support of the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the United States Forest Service (USFS). Held under the auspices of The Basilian Chouerite Order and the Municipality of El Khenshara in partnership with "Save Energy, Plant Trees" NGO (SEPT), the campaign aims to highlight the importance of cooperation between the various groups of the community in the preservation of Lebanon’s natural resources and emphasize the role of women in development and as leaders of change.
More than 200 volunteers including El Khenshara residents’ families and youth, scouts, and activists along with civil society representatives and NGOs from various Lebanese regions gathered to take part in the reforestation campaign.
All the partners agreed on the importance of planting fruit trees in abandoned terraces and restoring their ecological, cultural and economic values. They also highlighted the importance of engaging women and youth in environmental reforestation activities and intensifying reforestation efforts in order to expand Lebanon’s green cover and protect it from rising threats. This was voiced in the remarks of Mr. Anis Samaha, Head of the Municipality, representative of The Basilian Chouerite Order, Mr. Pierre Haddad, Director of "Save Energy, Plant Trees" NGO (SEPT), Ms. May El Khalil, President of the Beirut Marathon Association (BMA), Ms. Gail Spence, Program Office Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lebanon.
Ms. May Khalil, who was the event’s special guest, highlighted the leading role of Lebanese women in different sectors and their mounting involvement in the economic, social, cultural, educational and sports fields.
Lebanon Reforestation Initiative provided the 1000 pine tree seedlings planted by the volunteers during the day, and The Basilian Chouerite Order in El Khenshara is committed to ensuring the long-term care, regular maintenance, irrigation, and protection from grazing and fire. In addition, 4000 more pine trees will be planted this month with the help of local women and men from Khenshara. "Save Energy Plant Trees" Organization (SEPT) ensured the involvement of volunteers and civil society from various Lebanese regions and took the responsibility of site supervision following LRI’s planting protocols.