News & Media

November 24, 2011
Signing Ceremony of Cooperation Agreements with the Republic of Lebanon, Represented by the Ministry of Environment and Five Nature Reserves in Lebanon

Under the patronage and in presence of H.E. Mr. Nazem El Khoury, Minister of Environment, the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) organized on November 24, 2011 a signing ceremony of the cooperation agreements with the Republic of Lebanon, represented by the Ministry of Environment and five nature reserves in Lebanon, namely: Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve, the Committee of the Cedars Forest Friends – Bcharry, Chnaniir Nature Reserve, Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve and Bentael Nature Reserve.

Following the Lebanese National Anthem, Dr. Shadi Hosri highlighted in his speech the dangers resulting from the depletion of natural resources, pointing out the huge decline in the forests in Lebanon which represent today 13% of Lebanon’s surface while it was 35% in the 1960s.

Dr. Joseph Wakim, Dean of the USEK Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, introduced in his speech the nature reserves by elaborating on the importance of their ecological, biological, flora and fauna aspects. He mentioned as well a recent report issued by the United Nations Development Program in 2011 about human development and the importance of understanding the close relationship between environmental sustainability and justice, in order to promote freedom for present and future generations.

Dr. Nabil Nemer, lecturer at the USEK Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, introduced in his speech an overview on the five nature reserves and their scientific aspects, stating that these reserves aim to protect, on the environmental and ecological levels, what is left of the forests in Lebanon.

H.E. Mr. Neematallah Abi Nasr elaborated on the role of nature reserves in Lebanon and their impacts on the life of human beings. He added that the number of nature reserves in Lebanon is actually 22, all in need of financial support, and that the Ministry of Environment is working on developing environmental laws and providing support from the government. He concluded that human beings should stop abusing natural resources because this creates ecological imbalance leading to serious environmental problems. They should contribute instead to a balanced relationship with the environment to maintain biological diversity.

Rev. Fr. Georges Hobeika, USEK Vice-President to International Relations, on behalf of Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, President of USEK, praised in his speech the unique and picturesque nature of Lebanon which occupies a special place in the East since “the name of Lebanon is mentioned more than seventy times in the Holy Bible, as a symbol of life, greenness and continuity”. Fr. Hobeika revealed afterwards that in front of past declining environmental circumstances in Lebanon, USEK revolted through its former President Rev. Fr. Estephan Sakr in the 1980s and called for the establishment of a ministry for the environment in order to face the criminal acts which were threatening the environment and destroying what is left from the green spots. Therefore, and thanks to the determination and perseverance of Fr. Sakr, the Ministry of Environment was born along with the first nature reserve, Bentael Nature Reserve in Jbeil. At the end of his speech, Fr. Hobeika praised the efforts deployed by the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences regarding former and actual cooperation with the Republic of Lebanon represented by the Ministry of Environment and several nature reserves in Lebanon.

Last but not least, H.E. Mr. Nazem El Khoury, Minister of Environment, delivered a speech on the “Effective Cooperation between the Ministry and Universities to Protect the Environment”. He started by pointing out that the absence of an eco-friendly attitude in our society has unfortunately led to desertification, in addition to threatening certain species of plants and birds with extinction. He indicated as well that the studies and statistics carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the UNEP about biological diversity in Lebanon, show that the total of living creatures in Lebanon is 9119 and that there are 92 kinds of plants that only exist in Lebanon and live in the highest summits of the Makmel and Sannine mountains; 38 out of these 92 are endangered species threatened with extinction. Furthermore, Mr. El Khoury praised USEK for the attention it is giving to environmental issues and to projects and studies that aim to preserve the nature in Lebanon, declaring his readiness to activate real cooperation between the Ministry and USEK on the environmental, cultural, scientific and social levels. He concluded saying that “the partnership and cooperation between the Ministry, the nature reserves and the universities will bring an added value to any targeted activity we seek to achieve”.
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