UNIFIL’s Indian peacekeepers launch afforestation drive

UNIFIL Sector East Commander, Brigadier-General Alfredo Perez, launches the afforestation project with local authorities on World Environment Day.

UNIFIL Civil Affairs Officer Ewa Turyk plants a tree sapling to mark World Environment Day.

A UNIFIL Indian peacekeeper pats the red earth around a tree just planted during a ceremony launching the afforestation project marking World Environment Day.

UNIFIL Indian peacekeepers water one of 2,000 trees planted within their area of operation.

The beginning of UNIFIL Indian peacekeepers afforestation drive, where 2000 olive and pine trees will be planted.

Local authorities and UNIFIL Sector East Commander Brigadier-General Alfredo Perez water the recently planted tree saplings at a ceremony launching the afforestation project and marking World Environment Day.

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8 Jun 2016

UNIFIL’s Indian peacekeepers launch afforestation drive

The thermometers in south Lebanon are already climbing above 30°C, and people take shelter in whatever shade they can find, so it is fitting the Indian contingent from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have chosen to celebrate World Environment Day by launching an afforestation drive.

“We are aiming to plant 2,000 trees, a mix of olive and pine trees,” said Major Ankit Aggarwal from UNIFIL’s Indian Battalion. “Olive is a symbol of peace, and Lebanon longs for peace, and pine is evergreen. We want Lebanon to have a long and lasting peace.”

Afforestation is the process of creating a “new” forest often in barren land (it is different to “reforestation” - increasing the number of trees of an existing forest). The benefits of afforestation include prevention of soil erosion, better retention of water in the soil, new habitats for birds and insects, and protection from excessive wind and sun damage.

UNIFIL’s Sector East Commander, Brigadier-General Alfredo Perez was present at the ceremony to launch the project. “I would like to congratulate the Indian Battalion for this initiative,” he said. “It’s very important for us to maintain the lightest ecological footprint in the area, to increase environmental measures and to protect Mother Nature in this country.”

The project was coordinated with Lebanon’s Ministry of Agriculture. UNIFIL’s Indian Battalion liaised directly with Dr. Yousef Saad who advised them on what type of trees would best suit this project. Over the coming weeks the remaining hundreds of trees will be planted through joint activities with the local authorities.

Article: Aoibheann O'Sullivan
Video Editor: Suzane Badereddine
Video Camera: Mohamad Hamze
Photo: Pascual Gorriz Marcos