Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you follow the news, then you probably heard this story last week. In the south Deir Kifa, Aitit, Abbasieh, Sharhabil, and Harouf, the mountain villages of Bzebdin and Qornayel, the northern village of Didde in Koura, and upper Hermel, a total 78 acres of vegetation were lost to fire.  The questions are: how do we rehabilitate the land, and how do we try our best to prevent this from happening again?

Firstly, we must work to prevent post-fire soil erosion, desertification, and flooding. Soil erosion is a huge problem. Given that much of the soil is burned, a lot of it is completely gone. As for desertfication, the burning strips the remaining soil of its nutrients, making it difficult to re-plant in the same location.  Surprisingly, flooding in particular is important because after a fire, the soil itself has the potential to become hydrophobic, or water repellant. Plants and trees have a wax-like coat on their leaves to protect them from water, and when these plants and trees are burned, this wax-like substance disperses and later congeals over the soil when the fire begins to cool. The wax coats the soil, causing water to run off the soil rather than allow for absorption. So what do we do?
 
The first thing we need to do is “soil-cover”, or rather, take good soil from adjacent unburned land and place it over the burned land. This should be done no later than after the second full growing season. After that, we must seed the soil with sustainable plants and trees, while making sure that plants such as cheatgrass and knapweed (which catch fire easily) do not grow there. Lebanon, our land is full of these two plants. Cheatgrass looks like this:
 
 
  
 
Knapweed looks like this:
Coverknapweed.jpg
 
 
In answer to the second part of the question…how do we avoid such fires? Firstly, the causes of wildfire that are most pertinent to Lebanon are human negligence and spontaneous combustion. That said, the latter happens rarely. We must make sure not to leave camp fires, flammable liquids and gases (these are often kitchen and farming items), electrical equipment or even cigarettes butts in the open. These things are all highly flammable, and with the sun being so hot, a fire can easily start. In the case of a cigarette, we may even think we have put it out but there could still be some flame left, with the result being a blaze. Fires can start so easily, and once they do, they are very difficult to stop. In addition, removing fast-burning plants such as cheatgrass and knapweed (coincidentally, both are weeds) will help, but only to a degree.
 
Lebanon, it is time for us to act together to preserve and rehabilitate our land. We can do it by being careful, by being conscientious, and by making the effort to help and protect the land that we claim to love. We can do it, Lebanon!!!  
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