A partnership in the spotlight

The Lebanese Shouf landscape and the Spanish Region of Extremadura join forces to promote sustainable farming practices

In its effort to promote sustainability within the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) and the wider Shouf landscape in Lebanon, the SBR authority started a program to introduce organic and bio-dynamic farming techniques among the farmers and rural entrepreneurs of the area. One of the partners in this endeavour is “El Rincón de los Cerezos” (“the cherry-tree corner”) a bio-dynamic farm located in the Geo-Park of Sierra de las Villuercas, in the Spanish Region of Extremadura. Contact between SBR and Extremadura was established through the expert Pedro Regato, advisor to FAO and the Shouf Cedar Society. The partnership took off in 2018 with visits and preliminary assessments by the Spanish farm owners and the creation of a group of thirty Lebanese “local champions”—motivated farmers who share the vision of SBR and are eager to shift their production to a sustainable path. As a following step, a smaller group of farmers and SBR staff spent a few days in “El Rincón de los Cerezos” learning about organic and bio-dynamic approaches and techniques, and visiting farms and green business enterprises in the Villuercas Region.

The Shouf Biosphere Reserve and its collaboration with Extremadura were presented at an event held at the Instituto Cervantes de Beirut organized by the Spanish Embassy in Lebanon in early December. To mark the 25th Conference of the UN on Climate Change taking place in Madrid, the Embassy organized a discussion around the role of Spain as a global actor against climate change. The Spanish ambassador, José María Ferré, highlighted the work done by Extremadura experts which contributes to sustainable development in the SBR. The Scientific Coordinator of the Reserve, Nizar Hani, stressed the importance of consolidating a vision of sustainability in the Shouf and extending this vision to the rest of Lebanon. This should be part of a program of nature protection that integrates sustainable development through ecotourism, the recovery of agriculture on old terraces, water use and the promotion of renewable energy.

Marco Pagliani mrcpagliani2@gmail.com
Focal Point for the Medforval site Shouf Biosphere Reserve

17 December 2019