Ehmej, April 22, 2017 The USAID-funded Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) celebrated Earth Day in a social and environmental event held in Arz Ehmej, Mount Lebanon under the auspices of the Municipality of Ehmej and in partnership with the Corridor Planning Committees of the Rachaiya, North, and Shouf social and environmental corridors. U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard and Minister of Environment Tarek El Khatib attended the event and planted cedar trees along with neighboring municipalities, local community members, and youth groups.
Throughout the day, 120 young people from the North, Shouf and Rachaiya’s social and environmental corridors participated in environmental interactive games to introduce them to native tree species and educate them on different environmental topics such as climate change, forest fires, reforestation and recycling. The games concluded with a hike on Ehmej trails and the planting of 200 native species.
Minister Tarek El Khatib highlighted the importance of increasing the level of youth groups’ participation in environmental protection as they are the nation’s backbone. He also acknowledged the positive impact of work performed by LRI to build linkages between different communities in Lebanon to promote reforestation.
Ambassador Richard emphasized the U.S. government’s commitment to this environmental conservation initiative. “Since 2011, USAID, through LRI, has planted more than 664,136 native tree seedlings in various regions of Lebanon, created 1,200 seasonal jobs, and engaged hundreds of youth each year in its national awareness planting day campaigns.”
Mr. Nazih Abi Semaan, Head of Ehmej Municipality, affirmed the importance of engaging youth to promote environmental sustainability. Environment protection should be the youth’s major concern because increasing environmental degradation will directly affect their well-being now and in the future.