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Workshop in Balamand on wildfire risk management


The Biodiversity Program (BP) at the Institute of Environment (IOE), University of Balamand (UOB) organized a workshop entitled “Research on managing in wildfire risk in Lebanon” on the 26 June 2013 at Hotel Holiday Inn, Dunes – Beirut.

This workshop came within the framework of a new project entitled: “towards a better management of wild land-Urban interface in Lebanon: gaining from the US experience”: managed by the BP-IOE-UOB and funded by the US Agency for international development (USAID) in agreement with the US National Academics of Sciences (NAS), and within the program Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER). It aimed to showcase the most important preliminary results of the project’s ongoing wildfire research, and to discuss accordingly a framework of cooperation for improved wildfire decision making.

Dr. George Mitri who is the director of the biodiversity program (BP) and the project’s principal investigator indicated that the length of the fire season in Lebanon has been increasing over the last decade. It was statistically found that current average start date of the fire date was June 14, while the average end date of the fire season was the November 12, and the average peak month was the September. He also discussed how the danger from the increasing number of relatively large and recurrent fires will be posing a serious threat to human lives, private properties, infrastructure, environmental quality, and natural resources. It was highlighted that thirty one percent of the Lebanese territory is threatened to significantly increase wildfire risk in the country.

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Representatives from different institutions, ministries and organizations involved in wildfire management participated throughout the workshop in a productive discussion about the main needs and solution in wildfire management within Lebanon’s National Strategy for forest fire management (DecisionNo.52-2009). The participants highlighted different possibilities for use of the project’s results within ongoing local and national initiatives taking into account current challenges and opportunities in wildfire management. Also they discussed how the ongoing wildfire research is one of the necessary steps to help in developing the capacity of stakeholders in assessing and adaptively managing wildfire risk in Lebanon.

After the welcoming note of Dr, Manal Nader, the director of the institute of environment (IOE) at the university of balamand (UOB), George Mitri indicated that the biodiversity program is assembling the puzzle in assessing and managing wildfire risk through conducting a number of up-to-date and innovative research activities. The workshop has been designed to present the preliminary findings of the USAID-PEER wildfire project, address the importance of the subject from local to national level and discuss risk reduction possibilities and consider a decision a framework for improved wildlife fire risk management.

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