Massacres affecting perennial trees in the mountains of Lebanon Massacres affecting perennial trees in the mountains of Lebanon

Massacres affecting perennial trees in the mountains of Lebanon

Massacres affecting perennial trees in the mountains of Lebanon Volunteer rangers to protect the forests in the absence of local authorities.    With the advent of winter, most Lebanese began searching for something to warm themselves from the bitter cold, in light of the insane rise in fuel prices, especially diesel fuel, which prompted some to randomly cut forest trees and natural forests for more profit without considering the environmental risks.  Ainata (Lebanon) - Every night after dark, Gandhi Rahma, along with ten residents of his mountain village, Ainata, the Cedars in northeastern Lebanon, patrols to protect perennial trees from cutting down and trading in their firewood, after the phenomenon worsened amid an economic crisis ravaging the country.  “More than 150 oak trees dating back hundreds of years were cut down,” said Rahma, 44, a member of the village’s municipal police, which rises 1,700 meters above sea level and is located at the border between the Bekaa governorates in the east and north of the country, near the Cedar Forest. September.  Nothing remains of the felled trees under the cover of darkness, except for their huge stumps.  The lazab tree emits about 50 tons of oxygen per year as it is an evergreen tree and absorbs harmful gases from the atmosphere  The phenomenon has worsened, according to residents, with the intensification of the economic crisis that Lebanon has been witnessing since the fall of 2019, as more than 80 percent of the population is below the poverty line. About two million people, including 700,000 Syrian refugees, suffer from food insecurity.  Relying on diesel fuel for heating has become very expensive, with the lifting of government subsidies on fuel imports, the loss of the lira more than 95 percent of its value against the dollar, and the decline in the purchasing power of the population.  Usually, residents of mountainous areas are allowed to cut “sick” or infirm trees only, under the direct supervision of the municipality, to use firewood for heating during the winter season.  However, in recent months, the felling has intensified in a random manner, in a way that does not allow the trees to grow again, which means their complete elimination, according to Gandhi.  In order to prevent groups and individuals from continuing the illegal cutting, the sixty-year-old farmer, Samir Rahma, joined the group of volunteer guards, after the majority of the expatriate residents took over the financing of their needs in light of the declining ability of the local authorities to perform their duties.  "There were horrific massacres last year," Samir says, but the situation has been under control since the guards began patrolling at night.  Forests cover only 13 percent of Lebanon's area, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, due to urban expansion and the increase in fires, which have increased in frequency over the past years.  Unlike Ainata, the neighboring town of Barqa was not so lucky.  “The budget allocated to us by the state has become meager,” says its mayor, Ghassan Geagea, which prompted the council to look for alternative ways to protect the area’s forests, similar to Ainata.  With little funding, the municipality set up a group of guards to carry out patrols, but it was unable to completely prevent random cutting operations “in light of the scale of the phenomenon.”  Loggers reach the high forests of Barqa, targeting mainly perennial lazzab trees.  The founder and president of the “Ard Association,” Paul Abi Rashid, recently sounded the alarm, warning of the increase in “environmental massacres,” especially those affecting linden trees throughout the country.  He adds that he understands the suffering of people in the winter to secure heating supplies for their families, but it turns out that those who attack reserves and forests are a group of merchants, and their goal is to make profits at the expense of the environment.  Lebanon is home to the most prominent lazab forests in the Middle East, apart from pine trees, oaks, mallows, and cedars.  Abi Rashed says that Al-Zab is one of the few trees that grow on heights, “and retain snow on it until it seeps into the groundwater.”  A single tree of juniper (juniper) emits about 50 tons of oxygen per year as it is an evergreen coniferous tree, and it also absorbs harmful gases from the atmosphere.  However, these and other trees have become, over the past years, a target for “organized” groups who are believed to be selling firewood and making profits from it in the midst of the economic collapse, according to residents and local officials.  A ton of firewood is sold in Akkar in dollars, and the price increases or decreases according to its quality, as the price of one ton reached $500 if it was olive or walnut firewood. As for lemon and lime firewood, the price per ton of it reached 7 million pounds, or approximately $200. American.  Abi Rashed warns, "If we are not able to stop the cutting of bricks, we are heading towards more drought and water shortages."  Youssef Touq, 68, a physician and prominent environmental activist and founder of an environmental association in the Bsharri region in the north of the country, says, "Cutting down the linseed tree is a crime, for me, that is no different from the crime of killing a man."  He explains how lazab trees grow very slowly, and outside reserves, they need 500 years before they take their final form.  Near Ainata, Dany Geagea (46 years old) participated in the establishment of a reserve called “Kingdom of Lazab”, which includes about 30 thousand trees.  Although the phenomenon is not new and ordinary individuals used to do it in order to provide heating, as Geagea says, who has been leading awareness campaigns against logging 20 years ago, the danger today lies in "that it happens in an organized manner."  In rare cases, smugglers are arrested, and soon released in a country ravaged by corruption, clientelism and nepotism.  "This is Lebanon even justice is politicized," says Dany.

Volunteer rangers to protect the forests in the absence of local authorities.  

With the advent of winter, most Lebanese began searching for something to warm themselves from the bitter cold, in light of the insane rise in fuel prices, especially diesel fuel, which prompted some to randomly cut forest trees and natural forests for more profit without considering the environmental risks.

Ainata (Lebanon) - Every night after dark, Gandhi Rahma, along with ten residents of his mountain village, Ainata, the Cedars in northeastern Lebanon, patrols to protect perennial trees from cutting down and trading in their firewood, after the phenomenon worsened amid an economic crisis ravaging the country.

“More than 150 oak trees dating back hundreds of years were cut down,” said Rahma, 44, a member of the village’s municipal police, which rises 1,700 meters above sea level and is located at the border between the Bekaa governorates in the east and north of the country, near the Cedar Forest. September.

Nothing remains of the felled trees under the cover of darkness, except for their huge stumps.

The lazab tree emits about 50 tons of oxygen per year as it is an evergreen tree and absorbs harmful gases from the atmosphere

The phenomenon has worsened, according to residents, with the intensification of the economic crisis that Lebanon has been witnessing since the fall of 2019, as more than 80 percent of the population is below the poverty line. About two million people, including 700,000 Syrian refugees, suffer from food insecurity.

Relying on diesel fuel for heating has become very expensive, with the lifting of government subsidies on fuel imports, the loss of the lira more than 95 percent of its value against the dollar, and the decline in the purchasing power of the population.

Usually, residents of mountainous areas are allowed to cut “sick” or infirm trees only, under the direct supervision of the municipality, to use firewood for heating during the winter season.

However, in recent months, the felling has intensified in a random manner, in a way that does not allow the trees to grow again, which means their complete elimination, according to Gandhi.

In order to prevent groups and individuals from continuing the illegal cutting, the sixty-year-old farmer, Samir Rahma, joined the group of volunteer guards, after the majority of the expatriate residents took over the financing of their needs in light of the declining ability of the local authorities to perform their duties.

"There were horrific massacres last year," Samir says, but the situation has been under control since the guards began patrolling at night.

Forests cover only 13 percent of Lebanon's area, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, due to urban expansion and the increase in fires, which have increased in frequency over the past years.

Unlike Ainata, the neighboring town of Barqa was not so lucky.

“The budget allocated to us by the state has become meager,” says its mayor, Ghassan Geagea, which prompted the council to look for alternative ways to protect the area’s forests, similar to Ainata.

With little funding, the municipality set up a group of guards to carry out patrols, but it was unable to completely prevent random cutting operations “in light of the scale of the phenomenon.”

Loggers reach the high forests of Barqa, targeting mainly perennial lazzab trees.

The founder and president of the “Ard Association,” Paul Abi Rashid, recently sounded the alarm, warning of the increase in “environmental massacres,” especially those affecting linden trees throughout the country.

He adds that he understands the suffering of people in the winter to secure heating supplies for their families, but it turns out that those who attack reserves and forests are a group of merchants, and their goal is to make profits at the expense of the environment.

Lebanon is home to the most prominent lazab forests in the Middle East, apart from pine trees, oaks, mallows, and cedars.

Abi Rashed says that Al-Zab is one of the few trees that grow on heights, “and retain snow on it until it seeps into the groundwater.”

A single tree of juniper (juniper) emits about 50 tons of oxygen per year as it is an evergreen coniferous tree, and it also absorbs harmful gases from the atmosphere.

However, these and other trees have become, over the past years, a target for “organized” groups who are believed to be selling firewood and making profits from it in the midst of the economic collapse, according to residents and local officials.

A ton of firewood is sold in Akkar in dollars, and the price increases or decreases according to its quality, as the price of one ton reached $500 if it was olive or walnut firewood. As for lemon and lime firewood, the price per ton of it reached 7 million pounds, or approximately $200. American.

Abi Rashed warns, "If we are not able to stop the cutting of bricks, we are heading towards more drought and water shortages."

Youssef Touq, 68, a physician and prominent environmental activist and founder of an environmental association in the Bsharri region in the north of the country, says, "Cutting down the linseed tree is a crime, for me, that is no different from the crime of killing a man."

He explains how lazab trees grow very slowly, and outside reserves, they need 500 years before they take their final form.

Near Ainata, Dany Geagea (46 years old) participated in the establishment of a reserve called “Kingdom of Lazab”, which includes about 30 thousand trees.

Although the phenomenon is not new and ordinary individuals used to do it in order to provide heating, as Geagea says, who has been leading awareness campaigns against logging 20 years ago, the danger today lies in "that it happens in an organized manner."

In rare cases, smugglers are arrested, and soon released in a country ravaged by corruption, clientelism and nepotism.

"This is Lebanon even justice is politicized," says Dany.

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