Restoring Lebanon’s Biodiversity Through the Integration of Ecological Restoration Research, Policy and Practices

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Abdo Nassar1 , Majd Khashan2 , Samara P. El Haddad3 , Joelle Salameh4 , Leticia Rahal5 , Eliane Charbel

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Lebanon is one of the most forested countries by total percentage in the middle east. However, the decline of Lebanon’s forests coupled with climate change, poses serious threats to natural resource management, national identify, water security, rural and urban livelihoods. In response to these threats, the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), launched by U.S. Forest Service International Programs (USFS IP) in 2010, through the support and funding of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aimed to expand, manage, and protect Lebanon’s forests and landscapes through a community-based approach. Knowing that healthy ecosystems are essential to provide the services that humans and the natural environment require there is an obvious gap in research related to available data that is highly important for conservation efforts, habitat restoration and restoring ecosystem services critical for the development of sustainable traditional land use practices. LRI has built on its previous successes since 2011 and broadened its scope of work within the field of ecological restoration, integrating the ecological, social and economic aspects into developing sustainable restoration strategies. LRI is focusing on 1) fauna-flora research and identifying new data collection and monitoring tools to be integrated in improving restoration strategies; 2) community-based restoration to ensure economic opportunities to underserved local communities such as eco-tourism and agroforestry activities; 3) developing a forest ecosystem services valuation study that values and spatially maps a select set of forest services across Lebanon and 4) continuing to increase restoration efforts throughout Lebanon. LRI was successful in 1) developing studies aiming to make the case for the targeted protection and expansion of valuable forest landscapes, 2) developing an economic sector model for underserved rural communities focused on conservation and restoration and 3) improving understanding of ecological restoration and its practices in different habitats in Lebanon. LRI’s long-term object is to create a link between economic governance, natural resource management and social inclusion strategies, having a positive impact on biodiversity and leading to more sustainable traditional land use and decreased economic stress on the vulnerable rural communities.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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