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Locals lobby to keep their valley green in South Lebanon

The residents of Wadi Zibqine struggle to keep a road from destroying one of the last green spots in South Lebanon.

“We have a dream that there will be a reserve [here],” said Ibrahim Bzieh, an elder from Zibqine, as he looked out over the green valley near his village in South Lebanon. Local leaders and the Green Southerners, an environmental advocacy group, have worked tirelessly to get the Lebanese authorities to declare Wadi Zibqine a natural reserve. They hope to prevent a road from passing through the wadi. In a gathering in Zibqine on July 19, the municipality declared the area a reserve, stating they had submitted all the necessary paperwork to the Ministry of Environment to uphold the decision.

Forty-two landlords agreed to have their land included in the reserve, which is proposed to be 60% municipal land and 40% private land. In Lebanon, the Ministry of Environment can declare a piece of land a reserve and then submit the motion to parliament for approval. Alternatively, parliament can take the initiative and pass a law declaring a reserve. The latter requires the support of at least 10 parliamentarians, and the Green Southerners have the word of as many parliamentarians that they will support the measure.

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