(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Investigative report by Wasim Heidar
BEIRUT Dec 3 (KUNA) -- Forests and green landscapes in Lebanon face massive destruction each year due to wildfires and the increase in urban development.
Wildfire season in Lebanon usually starts from April to November each year, and depends on many factors, mainly weather conditions and the amount of rain; as such determine the number of fires and their severity, manager of lands and natural resources program at Belmont University in Lebanon George Metri told KUNA on Sunday.
Metri said that fire destroys about 1,200 to 1,500 hectares of green lands, and is increasing every year according to a study he conducted through the past several years.
This increase is due to many changes; mainly the extension of dry season and increase in migration from countryside to cities, which led to the abandonment of large areas of land and spread of harmful weeds, he explained.
Metri noted that 99 percent of fires in Lebanon is contrived by people, either deliberately through the removal trees in order to invest land in construction, or because of human activities.
He said that direct and indirect economic losses caused by forest fires are estimated at millions of dollars annually, despite the absence of accurate studies on the subject.
He called on the Directorate of Civil Defense and Fire to be fully geared up with necessary equipment that fit the mountainous terrain of Lebanon, and tighten the penalties for those who start fire and accommodate laws on this matter.
He pointed out to a fire alarm system developed by the University of Belmont, which allows the expectation of any fire breakouts nine days before happening, calling on all authorities to benefit from this system.
In this regards, Al-Shouf region of Mount Lebanon witnessed in recent years several large fires that swept through vast areas of forests and destroyed thousands of trees in valleys and slopes of mountains and hills that characterize the region. (end) wsm.nhq