AFDC has a long record in implementing forest fire fighting projects in different areas in Lebanon. As a part of the Nature & Conservation Program, AFDC has worked on several forest fire projects. For the last five years, AFDC has implemented eleven (11) main projects related to forest fires management including:
EU Local Scale Project: implemented in Jezzine (South), High Shouf (Mount Lebanon), Shouf Swejan (Mount Lebanon), Aley (Mount Lebanon) and High Maten (Mount Lebanon). Its on-going tasks are forest fire management plans, fire pond, fire breaks/ cleaning. Major outputs for this project are:
EU National Scale Project: implemented on sensitive forest areas all over Lebanon. It is working on Protocol of Cooperation. Its major outputs concerning forest fire fighting are:
Spanish Cooperation: The aim of the proposed project is to develop, strengthen & sustain the institutional, technological & human capacities in forest fire control in Lebanon. The specific objectives are:
Lebanese Recovery Fund Project (LRF): implemented in sensitive forest areas all over Lebanon. Its conservation on-going projects are the Infrastructure, Fire breaks and Water reservoirs. The major outputs that are achieved/ expected through the LRF are:
ROSS II Project: which is implemented in Andket- Akkar region; it has fire pond, fire breaks and a multipurpose center as on-going projects. The major outputs of this project are as follows:
WWF: Regaining the ecological integrity needed through supporting rural development activities. Its achieved result concerning forest fire fighting is:
WWY Italia & Italian Cooperation: Conservation and restoration of sensitive forest areas in Lebanon. Through this project, AFDC has accomplished the following results:
European Commission EC Life: Set a working mechanism to detect, prevent, fight and learn about forest fires risks and behavior through community involvement. Through this project, AFDC has achieved:
Hanns Seidel Foundation: which focuses on capacity building has allowed AFDC to reach the expected results of this project:
European Commission through WWF- SMAP Project: provided support to AFDC Forest Fire Fighting Project through which AFDC has achieved:
The forest fire operations room: Through the EU funded project “Towards Developing and Implementing a National Strategy for Forest Fire Management in Lebanon” a forest fire operations room was fully equipped with all necessary equipment to coordinate all efforts in forest fire prevention and control. This facility is located at the headquarters of the Directorate of the Civil Defense in Beirut and comprises up-to date computers, networks, and other IT tools. It is foreseen that this facility will play a major role in improving forest fire control intervention at the national level with the support of all concerned institutions and ministries.
The Campaign: Within the LRF project, a national public awareness campaign on forest fire prevention, fighting and rehabilitation targeting the local communities at large was organized and implemented. The campaign was designed by Grey Worldwide Middle East Network. This campaign included Press Ads, Radio spots, and Mass Media (Billboards and Unipoles). The campaign started with the publication of the press Ads and was followed successively with the radio spots and billboards. Moreover, Material for awareness campaign targeting local communities living in and around sensitive forest areas were designed. The materials included: forest fire awareness kits and magnetic forests’ calendar. Also, four sets of equipment that include forest fire tools, fire hoses, goggles, helmets, and uniforms were purchased and will be distributed on the Civil Defense and Ministry of Agriculture.
Forest fires on summer 2008: The total burned area in summer 2008 is 762.23 ha, divided as follows:
Forest fire fighting—voluntary system 2008
During the high fire risk period of 2008, AFDC volunteers participated in monitoring, detecting and suppressing several forest fires that had ignited in different sensitive forest areas in Lebanon. With the collaboration of the Civil Defense, the Lebanese army and the local communities within the high risk areas, highly trained and equipped AFDC volunteers played a major role in suppressing several forest fires and collecting relevant data on post fire effects and damaged vegetation, in addition to the affected landscape. Some of these fires were:
Aghmeed valley fire- May 20 2008 (Aley), the volunteers were able to detect the smoke, and undertook a rapid intervention during the early moments of the fire, in collaboration with the Civil Defense. Using the 4 by 4 land cruiser mini trucks, equipped with a 1000m3 water tank, the early intervention was effective in preventing the fire from spreading over the vast surrounding pine forest.
Furthermore, AFDC volunteers were active in suppressing other fires, in coordination with the Civil Defense, municipalities and other stakeholders:
August 15 & 30 2008, September 9, 2008: AFDC volunteers were active in suppressing three fires in Mesherfy- Aley);
October 13, 2008: AFDC volunteers supported the fire fighting brigades of the Lebanese Army and the Civil Defense in responding to the huge fire of Dibiyyeh (Shouf – Mount Lebanon).
It is worth mentioning that the experience and lessons learned during this year were enough to prove that the 4 by 4 land cruiser mini trucks were very effective in accessing narrow forest tracks and roads. Thus, they facilitated the suppression process in an efficient manner. AFDC volunteers used these mini trucks in fighting most of the fires they detected.
It is also worth noting that AFDC organizes periodical training workshops to different community fire units and volunteers in sensitive forest areas all over Lebanon.