Friday, February 6, 2009

Climate change threatens to kill off Lebanon's cedars

Daily Star (Lebanon): Lebanon's majestic cedar trees have withstood the test of time for centuries, but climate change is threatening to eradicate the country's most treasured symbol. Used by various civilizations 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-Chouf Cedar Nature Reserve in the mountainous Chouf 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 of cedar trees are located, was established in 1996 in an area that stretches 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 in scaled clusters, are estimated to be 2,000 years old.

"The melting of snow on mountains as a result of climate change would lead to the disappearance of the cedars in Lebanon," said Wael Hmaidan, executive director of the League of Independent Activists, or IndyAct, a non-governmental organization which focuses on environmental issues. "We need to tackle climate change and limit its effects before it's too late."…

Al Arz above Bsharri (Forest of the cedars of God), shot by BlingBling10, Wikimedia Commons,under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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