Research and Development forms AFDC's basic foundation for formulating its strategies, setting its goals and objectives, and designing its projects. It is a critical program through which AFDC sets its priorities for short, long, and medium term activities. Further to its significance in conducting studies on various subjects, R&D is a vital process that must accompany the organization in its entire operations to maintain its pathway and ensure its growth.
1- Strategic planning level
AFDC uses R&D tools to evaluate its past achievements and the extent to which these achievements met previously set goals and objectives. Based on that, AFDC decides whether to introduce any changes to its strategy and organizational structure. It is critical to perform continuous R&D within any organization for the purpose of monitoring performance and comprehending needed changes that serve the organization's success and wellbeing. Such evaluations include but are not limited to:
Indicator-based Measurement of results and achievements, internal audits, participatory institutional analysis, employee needs assessments, employee performance analysis,...
2- Projects and activities level
R&D constitutes the pre-projects phase. To ensure that a project is relevant to people's real needs and demands, extensive studies have to be undertaken. Upon these studies, AFDC decides on the project's framework, defines problems and conducts problem analysis, sets project's general and specific objectives, and proposes the most suitable activities to be carried out. For example, AFDC-WWF conducted a study that identified Lebanon’s ‘Important Forest Areas’. As a result, AFDC targets these areas in the formation of its units and its conservation activities.
AFDC also developed Lebanon's Fire Risk map in 2005 upon a wide-range of studies. The map was prepared by combining different parameters affecting forest fires using GIS and Remote Sensing. Some of these parameters were: Land cover/land use, slope aspects, Evapo-transpiration map of Lebanon, Occurrence of forest fires per village from 1983 – 2007 and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).
This map is one of the most significant decision-making tools used to prioritize activities and decide on most vulnerable forest areas to be targeted. In 2006, AFDC conducted a study of the impacts of the July war on the forests of southern Lebanon. As a result, AFDC implemented several successful projects that aimed to rehabilitate deteriorated forest areas and landscapes in coordination with local communities and concerned authorities.
In 2011, AFDC conducted a socio-economic study of the higher Matn region, that was the basis of designing an agro production project. The project comprised several activities such as establishing an agro production workshop in Qernayel village for processing and packaging rural products such as jams, pickles, vinegars, and herbs. Other activities consisted of capacity building workshops for women on food safety, quality control, pricing, production techniques, and marketing. Around 20 women from 7 villages were direct beneficiaries of the project.
Currently, AFDC is working with six Lebanese municipalities on contingency planning. This project, aiming to manage emergencies and mitigate the impact of disasters, included formulating local emergency plans according to community risk assessments, recourses assessments, vulnerability assessments, and SWOT analysis.
3- Main tools utilized within R&D program
One of the basic purposes of R&D is collecting relevant data, sorting them, then analyzing them for the purpose of producing constructive studies that serve for planning and implementing projects and activities, evaluating results, investigating causes, and realizing solutions to arising problems. AFDC uses a multitude of tools to collect data, some of which are:
Mapping and GIS, Surveys, Questionnaires, Benchmarks, Photos, Online studies, Computer Softwares, Scientific Assessments, Participatory Rapid appraisals, Participatory Rural Appraisals,...
These tools are used to develop stakeholders analysis, community analysis, resources assessments, statistics, socio-economic studies, eco system analysis and vulnerability assessments, landscape studies, forest & fire risk assessments, forest management plans, ecotourism destination studies, ecotourism planning and product development, rural development studies, local contingency plans...
Within the R&D program, AFDC published various studies, books, booklets, and guides. All of which were developed within the framework of its programs for the purpose of realizing its strategic objectives. These studies are being currently used as references for several initiatives both on the national and local levels. Such initiatives relate to Forest & Forest Fire Management, Environmental Education and Awareness, Religions and Environment, tree and plant species, seed collection and seedlings production, eco-tourism studies, contingency plans... (Refer to the publications section).