Lebanon Working on Smokey the Bear to Combat Forest Fires

lebanon-fireSummer is always hot in the Middle East, but this season has gotten really fiery in Lebanon, where blazes have damaged over 15 million square meters of forest since June.  The Lebanese Daily Star reports that farmers who burn their land after clearing it don’t take note of wind and dry conditions that quickly spiral out of control. Left, firefighters work in 2008.

To fight the fires, the Association for Forests, Development and Conservation is teaming up with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut to produce a cartoon campaign similar to Smokey the Bear. The project is still in brainstorming phase. The top contenders are the bee, the jackal, the falcon or the squirrel.

The Daily Star reports:

AFDC Environmental Education and Awareness Program coordinator Sauraya Mansour said: “The debate has mostly been between whether it is more important to create a cute character to reach the children, or to focus on the economic importance of preventing bush fires and target the farmers.”

Beyond ad campaigns, the Lebanese environmental community is also pushing hard to save the forests by enacting strict prevention methods and by planting a million trees. Most critically, they are gearing up for the highest-risk time of the year, which is September-October.

Fires aren’t the only risk to Lebanon’s forests and the state’s emblematic cedar tree; in May we reported on an effort to save the cedars from global warming.

You can help by donating or signing up to volunteer with the AFDC. Contact info is on the Web site, www.afdc.org.lb.

:: Photo from Topnews.in

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