Determining costs of climate change in Lebanon

We assessed the socioeconomic impact of erosion in two areas of Lebanon based on land use and local priorities.

 

Clients: United Nations FAO and the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative

Collaborators: US Agency for International Development (US AID); US Forest Service, International Programs; Lebanon Reforestation Initiative

 

The natural landscapes of the Bkassine and El Mhaidthe regions of Lebanon are of significant ecological and economic importance and natural beauty. Featuring miles of sloping pine forests, Bkassine is home to Lebanon’s successful pine nut industry. Grassy ridges and hillsides in El Mhaidthe offer sweeping views of valleys and produce herbs and crops that are harvested by local residents and co-ops. Local lands are vital economic resources for Bkassine and El Mhaidthe. Situated between natural and developed zones, the two areas can be defined as “bio corridors,” regions which encourage biodiversity and connectivity between habitats separated by human development. However, high risk of erosion (intensified by climate change) puts the livelihoods of Bkassine and El Mhaidthe residents and the larger region’s ecological balance under threat.

Our mission

Working alongside the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) and the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), Adirondack Research compiled a report on the socioeconomic impact of climate change in El Mhaidthe and Bkassine. This report, conducted in October 2016, concluded that a comprehensive plan for reforestation is needed to help preserve fragile ecosystems in Bkassine and El Mhaidthe and the local economies they support.

Erosion levels, land use, and local priorities

Assessments of soil erosion risk in El Mhaidthe show high levels throughout the region.

In El Mhaidthe, 95.14% of public lands analyzed were at high risk of erosion. At this current level of erosion risk, we estimated that $37,795 in products collected from public lands in El Mhaidthe are currently in jeopardy. Monetary losses are expected to increase in future years — 2020 and 2050 predictions show a slight uptick in the erosion risk from the current level. Assuming that the Bkassine pine forests are subject to the same degree of erosion, with 49% of the 220 hectares of pine nut crop at high risk for erosion, approximately $1,778,072 USD in revenue from pine nuts is currently at risk per year.

From a thorough assessment of local land use and economies, Adirondack Research determined that 22 Bkassine families currently derive their income from the pine nut industry. Olive oil grown in the region also supplements the economy. 26 people are employed by Morning Star Cooperative, which relies on the collection of herbs, vegetables, and fruits to make food products for community and commercial consumption. Collecting these herbs, Morning Star employees dry them to make teas, which are worth $10,000 to $12,000 USD in sales per year.

 

Community values and concerns

Our project focused in the central part of Lebanon.

Adirondack Research conducted detailed surveys of community members in both areas which gauged the socioeconomic importance of local lands and levels of concerns about ecological problems resulting from climate change. Results of the survey indicated that residents in both communities supported long-term reforestation as a climate change-mitigation measure. Residents also valued forest fire prevention, water quality protection, protecting footpaths, and beekeeping.

 

Establishing reforestation plans for the future

Adirondack Research recommends reintroducing local plant species, whose root systems help stabilize soils and reduce erosion. The methods used in our assessments can be applied to many other areas affected by climate change — our hope is that the approaches taken in El Mhaidthe and Bkassine will serve as models for other communities looking to tackle climate change to make similar assessments and changes.

View of El Mhaidthe from one of the hillsides prone to significant erosion.

Citations

Schwartzberg, E.G., (2017). Socio-economic study of the impact of climate change on two Lebanese villages: Bkassine and El Mhaidthe.

Charbel, E. (2016a). Assessment of Soil Erosion and Landslide Risk in Bkassine Forest under 2020s and 2050s Climate Change Scenarios.

Charbel, E. (2016b). Assessment of Soil Erosion and Landslide Risk in El Mhaidthe Village under 2020s and 2050s Climate Change Scenarios.

Hussein El Hage Hassan, H. and Charbel, L. (2016a). Assessment of soil erosion and landslide risk in Bkassine forest.

Hussein El Hage Hassan, H. and Charbel, L. (2016b). Assessment of soil erosion and landslide risk in El Mhaidthe village.

Contact

Adirondack Research
28 St. Bernard Street
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Phone: (518) 253-4112

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