Syria doesn’t always get it right, but we have to give them kudos for trying. On the one hand, certain citizens are making an effort to spread their environmental message even though, during one eco-event, they sent balloons into the atmosphere. And while trying to reduce congestion in their fruit and vegetable markets, they inadvertently disparage the poor farmers who can’t afford to pay exorbitant fees for a license. But the country’s grasp of wildlife and environmental tourism, and its effort to direct people towards discovering their fauna and flora, is becoming increasingly progressive. For this, the Syrian Environment Association (SEA) deserves recognition.
SEA of knowledge
Established in 2001, SEA has campaigned against environmentally harmful projects, protecting the Barada River, they have established a national cleaning campaign, and advocated reforestation, they have organized exhibitions, and in general improved the country’s overall environmental record.
But their most recent success most reveals the country’s growing understanding of how crucial biodiversity is to maintaining a healthy ecosystem and economy.
The first civilian organization to do so in Syria, they have established a 1,000 page field guide to the flora present in 8 out of 20 Syrian natural reserves. This reference includes a detailed list of reserves and laws, draws attention to the importance of geo-environmental issues, discusses biodiversity, and describes the role that tourism plays to protect the environment.
The guide also includes 400 pages of photographs, and will service as a scientific resource for students, as well as provide a reference for locals and tourists alike.
In addition to releasing the guide, SEA has developed a center in the heart of Damascus’ Old City, a sort of showcase for alternative energy such as solar and wind, as well as an on-going resource for environmental education. This center include a laboratory, a greenhouse, both a standard and electronic library, a training area and auditorium, and an area for children, according to DP News.
Finally, not forgetting the importance of recruiting youth, in whose hands the future lies, SEA established a competition to encourage young people to design projects aimed at climate change adaptation, and have established an environmental club. More such clubs are expected to be integrated into schools, along with various other projects.
If Syria was sleeping before, they’re wide awake now.
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