Sunday was a great sunny day to go and have a walk in the mountains;
This is what I did with my professors coming from France to visit the “Green Lebanon”;
I decided to introduce them to one of our cedar forest, with trees that are estimated 2000 years old.
But Upon our arrival to Al Chouf Natural Cedars Reserve, of Ain Zhalta, we were like astonished by the trees magnificence, and shocked by the environmental crimes that happen there; ( like the one discovered in Jaj cedar Forest) ;
On the Entrance of the Al Chouf Natural Cedars Reserve of Ain Zhalta, a huge billboard explains that according to the “law 532 it is forbidden, to Hunt, to Park, to cut trees, flowers, to light fires” ( see image taken)
The big billboard ends with the “Natural reserve is yours and for your kids, help us in protecting it”;
But what we have seen and taken in pictures, are groups barbecuing under the trees, parking their 4X4, German cars, Korean cars, under the trees, in the long road of Ain Zhalta reserve;
What shocked us more were, the Charcoal bags and rest of fires lit under the very difficulty conserved cedars! I forgot the rifle cartridges we saw on our path! is killing the animals and birds that live in this forest a way to protect and conserve the environment and Biosphere?!
this was my first time in Ain Zhalta’s forest, we walked near the people picnicking, and passed several parked cars, on the side ways of the dusty road, under the trees for 15 minutes; on the way back we decided to visit the Barouk natural reserve, with its eternal snow…;
I usually love to visit the CEDARs of el Chouf reserve, usually I go to el Barouk reserve, the guardians there do not let any car enter without briefing them, and the signs are clear, the priority is for the wild life of the forest, cars should slow down for animal to pass, there is a place for cars to park, after that people need to walk ( by foot) in the forest; No fire, no Barbecue ….
A visitor pays a fee that helps in developing the reserve, and can visit the forest with a guide ; ( the guide is very friendly, talks in Arabic, English or French) , and knows the life of the forest and the cedars perfectly…. our guide explained how the cedars grow, how their shape changes with time, ( 1000 years old tree are like the one we have on our Lebanese Flag); our forest are known for the Cedrus Libanis kind of cedars ( they smell divine) ;
In El Barouk reserve under the sun, walls of snow still covers the trees, the sight is Beautiful, and very well conserved,
While going out of the reserve, visitors can buy honey( cedars honey!!) ….
I hope that the responsible s of the other forests and reserves will take a firm action against trespasses who do not respect the biosphere, and I hope for the citizens and visitors of the forests to have more ethical behavior;
The Cedar Trees are something worth of protecting and not destroying, you need a picnic area, you can ask for it and it should be away from the valuable trees;
for more information you can visit:
the fb page https://www.facebook.com/shoufcedar.org
the fb group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/shoufcedar/
the website: http://www.shoufcedar.org/scr.asp