Beirut, Lebanon — A local environmental group has called on the Lebanese authorities to take all necessary preventive measures against fires before they devastate more of the country’s forests this fall.
“We call on the environment and agriculture ministries to provide accessible water sources close to forests,” the Lebanese Committee for Fire Protection said in a statement Sunday, warning of the devastating effects of forest fires.
According to the committee, Lebanon witnessed several forest fires in the past week. The group said a fire broke out in Kfar Matta over the weekend, burning down 60,000 square meters of woodland. Another fire in the area of Akroum reportedly devastated 50,000 square meters of pine trees, oak and cypress. In a Talet al-Marej nature reserve, 700 out of 4,000 trees and seedlings were burned. The trees were mainly cedar, pine trees and cypress.
Lebanon suffers from a devastating fire season every summer, with little being done to counter the threat to the forests and greenery.
“In the South of Lebanon, several forests were burned down by fires resulting from Israeli bombing in the past month,” Mounir Abou Ghanem, the director general of the Association for Forest Development and Conservation, told The Daily Star.
These fires were particularly damaging because they couldn’t be stopped in time with firemen unable to access them, he said.
Abou Ghanem said that it would be difficult to fight any fires in the South this fall because of the threat to firefighters from unexploded ordnance.
The priority is to remove unexploded bombs from inhabited areas and not from forests, he said. “The main problem with forest fire fighting is the lack of civil defense personnel and capacity,” Abou Ghanem said.
The war resulted in the killing of tens of civil defense members as well as the destruction of tens of their vehicles and centers in the South.