Earlier this year, we saw members of the Lebanese group IndyACT trek out into the snowy wilderness to protect Lebanon’s snow from catastrophic climate change.
This week IndyACT members, along with their friends in the Association for Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC) were back in action, putting the heat (so to speak) on decision-makers to protect another important natural resource.
Over 120 activists from both organizations gathered to draw a “human chain” in the Chouf Cedars Forest, Lebanon’s biggest cedar grove.
Lebanon’s iconic cedar trees are seriously threatened by climate change. Significant changes could turn Lebanon into an arid desert or replace forests with grassland, creating a new, inhospitable environment to which the cedars will not be able to adapt.
A changing climate could also contribute to the spread of insects like the Cephalcia Tannourinesnsis, which destroyed cedars in a swath of northern Lebanon several years ago.
Recently, Lebanon has seen increasing instances of forest fires, which activists also attribute to climate change, even though they say most Lebanese do not yet see the connection.
“Forest fires are not only increasing in intensity, but are also the forest fire season is expanding”, said Karine Al-Zoughby from AFDC, “last year was the first year on record, where we see forest fires in the month of December.”
“Our forests will never be able to adapt to climate change impacts. The only solution is to stop these impacts from happening all together”, added Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director of IndyACT.
“If we don’t then Lebanon will lose both our national symbols, the cedars and the snow, and thus ending with a red square as our flag.”
IndyACT and AFDC demanded strong action against climate change from Lebanese government officials and parliamentary candidates. Gearing up for the December 2009 global climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, they called on the Lebanese government to memorize the target of 350 parts per million.
Most climate scientists agree this is the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the international community must reach in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change. They also called for Lebanese officials to prioritize climate change on the agenda, and to actively participate in the international negotiation process.
For more on climate change and the environment in Lebanon:
Can the Cedars of Lebanon Survive Climate Change?
Lebanese Activists Mobilize to Protect Snow from Climate Change
Lebanon Pours the Country’s Sewage to the Sea Costing Millions and Harming the Environment