Encouraging nature into an urban setting

In the village of Mekse, a community park is beginning to take shape. Soon it will provide an ideal habitat for plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Yet life in this area of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is challenging. Significant population growth, exacerbated by a huge refugee influx from nearby Syria, has created a rapidly growing series of urban areas which are in danger of merging into a single, sprawling conurbation.

But A Rocha Lebanon’s local initiatives offer a fascinating model for biodiversity conservation and environmental education. In a little over six months, the site at Mekse has been fenced, irrigation pools dug and trees and bushes planted by a group of refugees and volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds.

The community park will become a clean and safe environment for local families to spend time in. And, with a school currently under construction nearby, it will offer an outdoor classroom for students to take part in practical lessons about nature, native plants and pond life. Over the next three years, A Rocha Lebanon will coordinate additional landscaping work including laying paths, further planting and removing significant amounts of rubbish and building waste.

You can help by purchasing one of our new Lebanese Gifts with a Difference. Buy a plant for Mekse Nature Park; give the opportunity of a nature-based livelihood to a Syrian refugee; or sponsor a hands-on nature lesson for school children at the nearby Qab Elias Environmental Project.

Indigenous trees from a local NGO are planted at the project site in Mekse (Martin Bernhard)

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