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April 21, 2012
The US Embassy and LRI Celebrate Earth Day in El Qlaiaa

The American Embassy in Lebanon, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), and Reforest Lebanon celebrated Earth Day in the community of El Qlaiaa as part of their jointly-organized environmental activities in schools and a reforestation planting on El Qlaiaa municipal land.

The activity included the participation of Lebanese NGO’s including Reforest Lebanon, Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC), Jouzour Loubnan, MADA, SEPT and others to promote environmental education of school age children with the aim of helping them grow into ambassadors for environmental stewardship in their communities and throughout Lebanon. The children were able to play environmental-themed games and learned how to plant a tree and to protect their forests and environment.

More than 350 families from the El Qlaiaa area attended the event in the presence of the neighboring towns’ heads of municipalities who who seized the opportunity to discuss the areas environmental needs, challenges, and achievements.  “The environment awareness programs and reforestation project that the USAID and Lebanon Reforestation Initiative are supporting have impacted the lives of many people in El Qlaiaa. The people here have endured a lot in the past years and this initiative is not only helping them financially but also providing them with the needed expertise to restore their forests,” said Mr. Hanna Daher, El Qlaiaa’s head of municipality.

Following welcoming remarks and an environment awareness film prepared for the event, the invitees were delighted to see the students’ creative environmental work that was prepared and showcased in the school hall. Standing proudly next to their work, the students grabbed the chance to proudly explain their ideas and the different techniques that they used.

“The engagement and commitment of the people of El Qlaiaa and their love for their natural surroundings will have a lasting benefit for their community, their environment and the future of their forests,” said Richard Mills, Jr., Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Lebanon.

Through the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, a project funded by the USAID and implemented by the US Forest Service (USFS), more than 25,000 seedlings have been planted over 26 hectares of municipal land in El Qlaiaa, involving more than 15 full-time and part-time site workers and a forest guard. The workers involved in the planting were recognized for their dedication to the reforestation efforts by Mr. Mills, Mr. Richard Paton, LRI’s project director, and Mr. Hanna Daher, El Qlaiaa head of municipality.