UNDP and the UK join forces to increase resilience against forest fires
March 29, 2023
Beirut, March 29, 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UK Government through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), in partnership with the Governorate of Mount Lebanon, are working on strengthening disaster risk management capacities and promoting climate security early-warning early-actions solutions. The joint project, on "Increasing Communities’ Resiliency Towards Forest Fires", identified the most vulnerable areas in Mount Lebanon towards forest fires and established three first responders' teams to respond quickly in the event of an emergency.
According to recent data from the "Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique" (CNRS), the number of forest fires in Mount Lebanon has increased by 19% in the last 8 years. In 2021, there were 135 forest fires in the Mount Lebanon region alone, which burned a total of 1,417 hectares of land.
The source of these fires is often linked to the burning of agricultural lands, random waste dumping sites and recreational activities in the forests. However, climate change is also playing a role in the increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires in the region. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and prolonged droughts are all contributing to the conditions that make forest fires more likely to occur.
Given the variety of disasters that Lebanon has encountered over the years, whether related to climate change or man-made, it is vital that we prioritize minimizing their impact and reinforcing the country's ability to withstand and recover from them.
A forest fires risks and hazards assessment was conducted by the CNRS, which identified the three intervention areas in Mount Lebanon, being: Union of Municipalities of Western Shahhar, Union of Municipalities of Norther Eklim, and Union of Municipalities of Higher Maten. First responders, which involved 45 municipal police officers from 57 municipalities, were equipped with forest firefighting tools. These include personal protective equipment (PPEs), manual tools, and portable firefighting units for fast response during emergencies. Trainings also involved 60 volunteers from the community.
To ensure that the communities are aware of prevention measures to reduce forest fires risks, awareness sessions were conducted within the unions, targeting youth, women, and the public at large. Additionally, local forest fire plans were developed, including prevention, preparedness, and response measures at the local level.
"The MENA region is one of the most climate-vulnerable regions of the world. Lebanon is already seeing the effects including flooding, increased wild fires, and drought. Recent data from the Lebanese Civil Defence, shows the number of forest fires in Mount Lebanon has increased significantly in recent years, especially during the summer months. In 2021, there were 135 forest fires in the Mount Lebanon region alone, which burned a total ok 1,417 hectares land" Hamish Cowell, British Ambassador to Lebanon.
He added: " I am proud to see how the UK funded project will help 47 municipalities in Mount Lebanon and train 45 responders from municipal police officers equipped with forest firefighting tools. For the future of Lebanon, it is critical that we, together with the local communities act now".
“Our priority has been to promote climate action and disaster risk management through early warning and early actions, given the direct link between climate change and natural disasters. This is especially important today, as Lebanon is facing an unprecedented economic crisis that limits its capacity to respond to disasters and crises on a national level. UNDP will continue to support the efforts of the Lebanese Government and communities in Disaster Risk Management, while promoting international standards and operating procedures and mechanisms for disaster response in Lebanon” Melanie Hauenstein, UNDP Resident Representative.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been working with the Government of Lebanon since 2010 to enhance the country's capacity to reduce disaster risks and build its resilience to crises.
UNDP contributed to the development of a national disaster risk reduction strategy and response framework, as well as sectoral and local mitigation, preparedness, and response plans. We have also advocated for new laws and regulations to institutionalize Disaster Risk Management in the country and strengthen coordination mechanisms during crises and disasters.
UNDP is working in Lebanon since 1986 as a development partner supporting economic recovery, including working with municipalities to deliver basic services to host communities, promoting clean energy and solid waste management, strengthening governance and rule of law, providing support to elections, and working on empowering women and youth.
For more information, please contact
In UNDP – Lebanon | Rana Moughabghab | email@example.com | +961 3 835 351
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.
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