Lebanon: Forest fires devastate environment

Forest fires devastate environment
Thousands of annual blazes threaten foliage, wild life

TheDaily Star, 29 October 2004

By Leila Hatoum; Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Numerous forest fires have blazed throughout the country over the past couple of days, raising the annual number of fires which consume vast terrains while leaving behind devastating environmental damage.

According to a statement issued by the Association for Forest Development and Conservation, (AFDC), “thousands of fires which occur annually in Lebanon threaten the Lebanese foliage, planted areas and wild life.”

AFDC’s statement comes in the midst of an awareness campaign to stop forest fires, funded by the European Community in collaboration with the Interior Ministry – Lebanese Civil Defense and La Libanaise des Jeux, a public lottery association.

The campaign aims at raising awareness to the hazards of forest fires, and how to avoid them.

The campaign also includes placing banners and large advertisements throughout the country in an attempt to reach as many people as possible.

Monir Bu Ghanem, AFDC’s program officer told The Daily Star on Wednesday that most of the fires occur sometime around the month of August.

However, “the most dangerous ones happen between October and November,” he said, adding that by then “the plants are well dried and more likely to catch fire and spread faster.”

This leads to “the increase of burned land,” he said.

“That is why the total surface area destroyed by fire is larger and the damage is bigger at the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn,” he said.

According to Bu Ghanem, AFDC’s research team “does some analysis on fires that occur around Lebanon.”

The research team “inspects the total area destroyed by the fire, checks for indicators and interviews people who might have witnessed what caused the fires,” he said.

“One of the primary obstacles we are facing in Lebanon is the lack of statistics,” he added.

Moreover, “all fires that happen are registered together, including forest fires,” he said. adding that such a step deprives researchers from getting accurate information regarding only the number of forest fires.

Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=9698#


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