A constant along the path of the LMT, which accompanies you majestically from the top of the lebanese peaks, brushed by the wind and as elegant as its noble alpine relatives: the cedar of Lebanon. Walking through the woods of the Cedar reserve of Bcharre, we meet Youssef Towk, pioneer of conservation and environmental activist, a life spent for the conservation, protection and environmental enhancement of this very important element of the Lebanese ecosystem.
“The cedar of Lebanon can be considered as the most mentioned tree in history. If you read the Bible, the cedar of Lebanon is quoted dozens of times. It was also the first tree used to build ships and our Lebanese cedar comes from Lebanon and so the opposite. Because the Lebanese cedar is found in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and in Turkey there are dozens more. But Lebanon is the first, we must be proud of it. Lebanon uses it as a symbol for the flag, etc. The cedar of Lebanon is a tree that lives a hundred years. “
Do the new generations recognize the value of the cedar of Lebanon?
“We hope that the younger generations will recognize the value of cedar, nature, trees in general, but especially the cedar for its emblematic value. The cedar of Lebanon is a sacred tree.”
And what about tourists, do they appreciate its naturalistc value?
“There is a problem with tourism, because if it’s not a responsible tourism, it is harmful. Natural tourism can only be eco tourism. We need it to be a responsible tourism, respectful of nature, we must think that if we want tourism to be durable it must be well protected.”
What is your job?
“I watch them, I take care of them. Every day I walk around the park and I look, I listen, I watch. A careful, constant and empathetic maintenance is important. Cedars are strong and long-lived but the same time they are delicate trees, and then man’s negligence and climate change do not help … But we are good here…”
Youssef, walks away with a laugh, gets lost among the green of its majestic trees. We follow him with the gaze while calm and regenerated, we fill our lungs with pure mountain oxygen…
This article is made possible in the framework of the project “Conservation and Development of Economic Opportunities on the Lebanon Mountain Trail” under the EU funded Reinforcing Human Rights and Democracy in Lebanon – Active Citizenship, AFKAR III program managed by the Lebanese Ministry of the Administrative Reforms (OMSAR).
This publication has been produced with the support of the European Union. The content of this article is the sole responsibility of COSPE and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of European Union and the Office of Minister of State for Administrative Reforms (OMSAR).