UPPER METN: Environmental and civil associations together with the Mount Lebanon Pine Tree Workers and Farmers Union warned against the danger threatening pine forests due to the presence of thousands of dead trees that could help the spread of forest fires, especially during the upcoming summer dry season.
In a statement issued after a meeting on Tuesday, the associations and the union denounced the authorities’ ignorance of the dangers, criticizing the fact that forest and land owners are banned from getting rid of pine trees that have died as a result of pine wilt disease. The statement said dead pine trees could be chopped down and used as firewood in the winter, thus preventing the spread of fires, agricultural diseases and insects to healthy trees.
“This phenomenon is scaring us because the Agriculture Ministry has not dealt with the risk from dead and diseased trees for over 11 years,” it said.
The statement said the union will address this problem through contacting MPs in each affected area, adding that they will call for giving farmers permission to cut down dead trees under the supervision of municipalities or any other official authority.
A study conducted by the union revealed that 50,000 families earn their livelihoods from the production cycle of pine trees.
In the same context, the Nature Without Frontiers Association and the Ghadi Association have organized a tour of the pine forests in Kfar Selwan, mainly the Yarz Forest where disease has killed dozens of trees and is threatening the future of pines.
Both associations urged the Agriculture Ministry to send a committee of engineers to inspect the damage and help treat trees that have not been totally damaged by the disease.
“The laws banning farmers from cutting down dead trees which have been killed by disease are an obstacle to confronting the spreads of disease from sick trees to healthy ones,” the statement said.
They urged the concerned authorities to take the required measures to confront the problem.