UN blue helmets plant trees to support residents in southern Lebanon

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United Nations blue helmets are helping to green southern Lebanon through a re-forestation project designed to raise environmental awareness and provide long-lasting benefits to local residents in the village of Sh'huur.

The project was inaugurated today at a tree-planting ceremony led by the Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Jean Dunn, and attended by local authorities and officials from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

This coordinated effort aims to plant a total of 2,300 trees, including walnut, olive and pine, over the next three months.

One of the goals of the project is to "make the area environmentally friendly with long-lasting impact on development through providing residents with green space for recreational benefits, fruit products, increasing biodiversity of the nearby farming land and indirectly supporting beekeepers in the area," UNIFIL said a statement.

The trees will be planted in several locations in the municipality, including along the five-kilometre stretch of the Litani River, in recreational areas and picnic sites, on the nearby de-forested hills and along the roads in the village.

Since 2009, UN peacekeeping forces have increased their efforts to combat climate change. Blue helmets have already planted nearly 30,000 saplings in 11 peacekeeping missions worldwide, including in Timor-Leste, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Georgia and Lebanon.

UNIFIL has also funded re-forestation projects in two other cities in southern Lebanon, including planting 5,000 trees in Khiam, with assistance from Malaysia, and 3,000 trees in Rachaya al-Foukhar.

Greening of the area around Sh'huur is being spearheaded by the "Green Sh'huur" Committee, comprising citizens of the municipality, including the Mayor. The ultimate objective is to plant 10,452 trees, symbolizing the total surface area of Lebanon (10,452 square kilometres). As part of this initiative, the Committee has already planted 4,000 trees in the area.

Established in 1978, UNIFIL is tasked with ensuring that the area between the Blue Line - separating Lebanese and Israeli forces - and the Litani River is free of unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets, and it also cooperates with the Lebanese armed forces so they can fulfil their security responsibilities.