Dbayeh, October 22, 2015 – A conference entitled “The Private Sector Partners with the Public Sector to share the Responsibility of Restoring Environmental and Social Corridors through Reforestation” was organized by 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. The conference was attended by representatives from private sector companies, the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, academic institutions, international donors, local reforestation NGO’s, municipalities, the Union of Municipalities of West Beqaa and North, Governors of West Beqaa and North, and business associations.
The conference highlighted the importance of private sector engagement and contribution to reforestation activities. Such involvement is critical to LRI’s approach to link existing forests with recently reforested areas to create safe biocorridors for wildlife and expansion of green areas in coordination with local communities. Biocorridors create stronger relationships between neighboring communities with different backgrounds and empower them to advocate collectively and more effectively on shared environmental issues. This year, LRI will work in two biocorridors in the West Beqaa region, extending the forests of Rashaya towards Aanjar, and in the North linking Ehden to Ehmej going through Bcharreh and Tannourine.
Ms. Cybill Sigler, USAID/Lebanon’s Economic Growth Office Director, affirmed that the reforestation of these corridors is a huge endeavor that requires partnership and collaboration of various private and public sector entities. This partnership will help to advance environmental awareness nationally and will contribute to increasing Lebanon’s green cover. Ms. Sigler also thanked all private sector companies that have partnered with local reforestation NGOs and LRI to reforest five different sites across Lebanon, and called for more private sector engagement in the upcoming planting seasons.
At the end of the conference, seedlings were distributed by the Cooperative of Native Tree Producers in Lebanon to all attendees. Each participant received a seedling species based on the elevation of the location he/she can plant it into, increasing awareness and encouraging positive environmental change.