Originally published on January 8, 2018.
As one of the most forested countries in the Middle East, Lebanon is known for its iconic cedar forests. However, due to land clearing for agriculture and harvesting for wood, forests have been reduced by 20 percent. Over the past decade, the government has been working to rebuild these lost wild areas.
The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) was established in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Forest Service (USFS). LRI provides technical assistance and institutional support on sustainable forestry practies and wildfire management in economically depressed and environmentally degraded regions within Lebanon.
The Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, has been partnering with LRI to by sending experts, like UC Davis graduate student Gabrielle Bohlman, on short-term assignments to increase the technical know-how within LRI and partnering organizations.
On assignment in 2015, the purpose of Gabrielle’s work was to help create a unified data collection sytem for forestry organizations. While in country, Bohlman was able to adapt local knowledge with her own ecology expertise in training 15 data collectors. Trainees used her protocol for the first time in 2016 and plan to use it for 2017 as well. These protocols are now being used by five local universities for scientific purposes.
Bohlman’s work is making it possible for analyists to create a map of vegetation in Lebanon, which will be developed at the end of 2017. This map will inform reforestation decision-making in Lebanon by delineating where vegetation can exist and thus demarcate the best reforestation sites and species. Data analysis collected from Bohlman’s method is also being used to create the country’s first open source web-based reforestation platform.