SDG15: LIFE ON LAND
Lebanon’s favorable geographic location in the Mediterranean is considered to be a biodiversity ‘hotspot’. Lebanon hosts 0.8 percent of the world’s species and 12 percent of endemic terrestrial and marine plant species, on a land area of 0.007 percent of the world. To protect this richness, Lebanon has created 15 nature reserves, 3 biosphere reserves, 16 protected forests, 16 protected natural sites or landscapes, 4 Ramsar sites, 5 world heritage sites, and 15 important bird areas.
Forests cover about 13 percent of the country and other wooded lands cover 10 percent. Lebanon’s second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016–2030) (endorsed by the Cabinet in April 2018) aims to increase nature reserves to five percent of its territory by 2030 and increase natural terrestrial and marine ecosystems within the protected areas network to 20 percent. The strategy addresses Lebanon’s obligations under international conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, considers global and local needs and aspirations.
The Lebanese government has several programs to restore forests including the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification, the National Afforestation and Reforestation Programme and the 40 Million Trees Programme. Other projects that target biodiversity conservation have also been implemented.
The Lebanese University established an agreement with several NGOs aiming to preserve forests in Lebanon allowing experts to apply their knowledge in this field, and students from the faculty of agronomy to recognize and discover different plants and trees and ecosystem existing in Lebanon and to learn the way to save them. For example:
An agreement between the Lebanese University and the Shouf Biosphere Reserve has been signed on 10/06/2019 aiming to provide allocation to four students from the faculty of agronomy in order to conduct biodiversity monitoring activity in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve and to implement actions for the protection of biodiversity related to mountain terracing (doc 73).
An agreement between the Lebanese University and the Ministry of environment on 8 May 2014 (doc 74) aiming to implement joint research projects in the areas of environment, marine and terrestrial resources, biodiversity, water and air quality, pollution and natural and human hazards in Lebanon.
Under the patronage of the Minister of Agriculture, Hassan Lakkis, the President of the Lebanese University, Professor Fouad Ayoub, the Mayor of Baalbek, Hussein Lakis, and the European Union, the Lebanese University - Faculty of Agronomy concluded the Forests Project in Baalbek, as part of the Agricultural and Rural Development Program funded by the European Union.
The closing ceremony, which was held in Baalbek, was attended by the two former Ministers of Agriculture, Hussein Hajj Hassan and Ghazi Zeaiter, MPs Ali Mekdad, Ibrahim Al-Moussawi and Ihab Hamadeh, the European Union Ambassador Christina Lassen represented by Jose Louis Vinueza, Baalbeck Maronite Bishop Hanna Rahmeh, Mufti of Baalbek, Sheikh Bakr Al-Rifai, the President of Baalbek Municipalities Union, Nasri Othman, in addition to representatives of political parties and the region's activists.
The master of the ceremony, Eng. Nasser Al-Toufayli, confirmed that this project, which began in 2014, is important to Baalbek, as trees are a source of nature beauty and air purity, and a green resistance that supports military and intellectual resistance.
An agricultural cooperation agreement with the Managing Director of Gerji Dakkash and Sons Company and Our Land Association, Mr. Shawki Dakache, in the central administration of the Lebanese University - Al-Mathaf. The signing ceremony was attended by the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Lebanese University, Dr. Samir Al-Mudawwar, Dr. Eddy Tabet, several employees of Dakash Company, professors of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Lebanese University and several university administrators and media professionals.
The President of the Lebanese University, Dr. Adnan Al-Sayed Hussein, welcomed the General Director of the Gerji Dakkash Company, Mr. Shawki Dakkash, for what he represents of an agricultural activity based on science in modern methods and for what He represents Our Land Association, as well as the Dakash Family Association that was established to develop agriculture in Lebanon and the Arab world.
He noted that the Faculty of Agriculture of the Lebanese University is proud to sign the agricultural cooperation agreement with this civil institution that works in the field of agricultural development and calls for its strengthening.
He added: “It is the duty of the Lebanese University to make known the importance of the Faculty of Agriculture in Agricultural Engineering and Veterinary Medicine, this applied faculty that emerged after the student struggle between 1973 and 1975 and despite the delay in its decrees, it was and it remains a unified university that graduates the best agricultural engineers who are proud of them and their achievements. Some of them traveled to Europe and North America and obtained the highest degrees at the doctoral level, while the Department of Veterinary Medicine is only present at the Lebanese University.
He continued: "As for the Ghazir Center, it is a field applied to the theoretical lessons that the student receives, and the company is expected to develop it and develop its production. As for the agricultural carp model that the company provides, the objective is train our students, develop scientific research, serve the Faculty of Agriculture and benefit from multiple experiences. "
The Faculty of Agriculture takes place at the Lebanese University, under the auspices of the Rector of the University, Professor Adnan Al-Sayed Hussein, and at the invitation of its Dean, Dr. Tayseer Hamieh, to celebrate the occasion of the activation of the Center of Research and Scientific Training in the Ghazir region of the Faculty of Agriculture, on the first of the afternoon of next Friday, in the presence of a representative of the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Ra'i, Representative Gilbert Zwain, Bishop of the Maronite Archdiocese of Nabilieh, Mayor-Bishop of the Municipality of Nabilieh, Ghazir, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Haddad, Keserwan District Commissioner Joseph Mansour, the deans of the faculties and institutes of the Lebanese University and the administration employees central university and Faculty of Agriculture and activities of the Ghazir region.
The program includes words from Mr. Hussein and the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture Dr. Hamia, Coordinator of the Habib Yaghi Center, a poem inspired on the occasion by Emile Fahd. The celebration is followed by a tour of the center.
The Museum of Natural Sciences at the Lebanese University exists since 1979 and is a scientific wing that serves as a research tool for students and researchers, and a cultural portal for the stakeholders.
The museum includes a collection of samples of insects, reptiles and fossils, which the war that Lebanon had gone through had destroyed some of its contents and the remains were transferred to the Faculty of Sciences in Fanar in 1984. Before its official opening in May 2004, the museum was an insectology laboratory and part of a research project funded by the British Embassy in Beirut, as stated by Dr. Najla Zaidan, one of the Museum founders.
Dr. Zaidan said the museum's assets managed by the Department of Life Sciences and Earth at the Faculty of Sciences, include fossils and all that is related to Earth science from insects, reptiles, amphibians and stone tools used by humans two million years ago and the oldest in the Middle East. She also noted to the importance of documentary annotations alongside the exhibits (lists of names, sources and dates).
The Lebanese University, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, aims to put the Museum of Natural Sciences - Fanar and George Tohme's herbarium - on the list of national museums, to be the main contributor to the dissemination of environmental and scientific culture about Lebanon.
A CEREMONY TO HONOR STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS OF THE LEBANESE UNIVERSITY WHO HAVE BENEFITED FROM THE PROGRAMS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Over the course of its career of nearly 55 years, the Lebanese University has had a special ritual and a distinguished position in the programs, projects and presentations of the National Council for Scientific Research. This has been consecrated through the support provided by the Council to the projects of research professors, doctoral students, high school graduates, and conferences organized by the university's faculties. This year, we saw the need to highlight this cooperation and honor the beneficiaries of all groups, and the most important thing is for our meeting to open new possibilities for cooperation and build feasible projects for the national system in higher education and scientific research. In the last ten years, the relationship between the Council and the University has evolved to reach the stage of actual partnership, expanding its scope to include all scientific, humanitarian, social and economic axes
In the Council's policy, there is a commitment to quality and excellence and an insistence on respecting quality standards and ensuring the societal impact of all its contributions. These are standards and indicators binding on research institutions, especially those that depend on public funds for their funding.
Key Urban Issues
Lebanon has for decades witnessed a rapid and uncontrolled urban growth and sprawl. With limited planning regulations in place or enforced, the urban areas are covering increasingly large areas, at the same time urban disparities has grown. New constructions are massively increasing especially at the coastal zone, where the majority of the Lebanese population resides, contributing to the uncontrolled urban expansion (CDR, 2005).
The planning systems are to a little extent equipped to consider measures to mitigate the urban divide. The lack of local planning and cross sectorial master plans hinders any absorption capacity of the increasing urban population. The service systems have over the years of the civil war become increasingly deficient and have not been systematically addressed since. This is further exacerbated by a fragmented service provision and planning system. As a result, while two thirds of the population is connected to sewerage networks only 8% is treated and 50% of the water is lost in the networks. Additionally, the national average power supply lies at only 18.3 hours per day. The poor services, lack of planning and heavy reliance on private transportation – Lebanon has the second highest person-to-car rate in the world - has a dramatically negative impact on the environment and health of urban citizens. This has been further exacerbated by the Syrian crisis and the massive rise of population.
Lebanon is one of the most urbanized countries in both the world and the Arab region, with 87% of its population of 4 million living in urban areas and the majority - estimated at 64% - residing in the metropolitan areas of Beirut and Tripoli. Urban expansion in Lebanon is concentrated in and around the main coastal cities (Beirut, Tripoli9, Saida and Tyre), between secondary cities and in the form of informal areas on the belts of cities10. The Palestine refugee population of about 270,000 lives in the 12 official camps and 43 adjacent areas and gatherings, the far majority found in the four main coastal cities. With the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011 Lebanon witnessed a massive influx of displaced people from Syria, with more than 1,075,000 Syrian refugees registered as per October 2015, in addition to 43,500 Palestine refugees from Syria and smaller numbers of Lebanese returnees and Iraqi refugees11. The displaced from Syria to a large extent follow the urbanization pattern of the host population as there are no formal camps, thus the refugees have found shelter mainly through the formal and informal market channels. Three of four key economic sectors - construction/real estate, service industry and tourism (exception is the agricultural sector) - are also concentrated in the main cities along the coast, as well as the larger informal market and services. It is therefore expected that also more of the displaced from Syria will move towards the larger cities in the coming years to seek work opportunities.