Climate change threatens Lebanon’s legendary cedars

BAROUK, February 7, 2009 (AFP) – Lebanon’s majestic cedar trees have withstood the test of time for centuries but climate change is threatening the country’s most treasured symbol.

Used by various civilisations throughout history for their strong and durable wood, Lebanon’s cedars are now on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” as a “heavily threatened” species.

Local experts and environmentalists warn that global warming could have a negative impact on the cedars.

“Enough talking about the need to preserve the cedars, it’s time for action. We must preserve the trees now,” said Nizar Hani, scientific coordinator of the Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve in the mountainous Shouf area southeast of Beirut.

“All indications are that if the current climatic changes continue, the cedars could be in danger.”

Lebanon’s largest reserve, where 25 percent of the country’s 2,000 hectares (nearly 5,000 acres) of cedar trees are located, was established in 1996, stretching from Dahr al-Baidar in the north to Niha Mountain in the south.

Some of the reserve’s cedar trees, which belong to the pine family and have needle-like leaves bearing seeds i