Strategic and operational Multi-Year Plan (2022-2025)
Strategic and operational Multi-Year Plan
This plan encompasses the three missions of A Rocha: church engagement, environmental education and environment practical conservation
Beehives in Church (Ruchers en église) – (PJ0001-REE)
In Lebanon, as elsewhere, questions are being raised regarding the future of food security and, more globally, of our planet and of our responsibility in view of so many failures and challenges to our modes of production. Do our churches, in Lebanon and worldwide, recognize themselves in the success of Creation? What roles do Christians have to play in the preservation and protection of an environment that has been given to us by none other than God?
Beekeeping, and specifically honey among bee products, has a special status in the Lebanese culture. As a delicacy appreciated by all but nonetheless requiring a lot of undervalued and unrecognized work, honey and beekeeping are in fact as much in opposition in Lebanon as they attract each other.
- To offer communities the opportunity to discover the miracle of creation in a unique and collective experience by stewarding a church beehive.
- To raise awareness among the various communities in Lebanon on the need to pollinate our urban and rural spaces in view of the uncontrolled explosion of urbanization to preserve green spaces, crops, and local flora.
- To bring about positive change in the use of pesticides, which – in rural areas – are as harmful to pollinating insects as they are to the men and women who consume
chemically treated products that are potentially dangerous to their health in the medium and long term.
- To generate a new source of income for these communities from beehive products, allowing them to flourish by setting up an organic and sustainable production activity.
- To create a network of churches producing beehive products and enable the creation of a new sector in Lebanon, one that can share practices, equipment, and resources.
Method and Means:
A Rocha Lebanon accompanies the communities wishing to commit themselves to this simple and exciting process on different levels by offering its experience in the sizing and installation of a new beekeeping operation and by providing theoretical and technical training over a maximum period of 30 months to allow total autonomy in managing the beehives. A beekeeper trainer visits the parishes periodically to train, accompany, and guide the volunteers, gradually leading them towards a collective management based on a shared vision.
The minimum investment for a hive is about 160 USD, including one Apis mellifera syriaca swarm with a new queen. A complete outfit for an operator and an annual anti-varroa treatment will cost an additional 70 to 90 USD.
The return on investment is almost immediate and practically guaranteed at the end of the first season, namely in just 6 months, if sales are in line with the market price.
Launch: January 2023
The beekeeper trainer and our “Churches and Communities” liaison officer are the privileged interlocutors of the parties involved in this project. The beekeeper trainer evaluates and reports on the progress of the training according to a set of specifications, as well as on the acquisition of management techniques, the theoretical part, and the group life related to this project. Meanwhile, the liaison officer is more concerned with the initial assistance in the installation and sizing of the project and, subsequently, with its administrative and financial follow-up. The liaison officer also assesses the progress of the project with the beekeeper trainer at a rate of 3 times a year.
Eco Church Label (Labellisation Église verte) – (PJ0002-LEV)
The environment is a growing and mobilizing social issue, since raising awareness of its preservation undoubtedly hinges on the survival of plant and animal species. Climate change, waste treatment, the loss of biodiversity, and the pollution of cities, seas, and rural areas are but a few of the threats that weigh heavily on our way of life, but also on Creation as shaped and willed by God in his ultimate benevolence to give us a garden over which we would be the permanent stewards.
The Eco Church label is aimed at Christian communities in Lebanon that wish to commit themselves to caring for creation. This includes parishes and local churches as well as Christian ministries, movements, monasteries, and institutions, such as schools, universities, and hospitals…
- Because we believe that God reveals himself through his work and that he has entrusted it to humankind to cultivate and guard.
- Because life on earth is a blessing and reflection of God’s love, and because taking action to preserve it is a way of loving our neighbor and of taking action for justice.
- Because the ecological crisis commits us to hearing the cry of the earth that “groans in the act of giving birth” (Rm 8: 22) and to choosing, with hope, ways of life that are the first fruits of a new creation reconciled in Christ.
- Because the people of God can pray and take action to bring this hope to the world.
- Because we are aware that it is by converting together that we will contribute to building the more just and ecological world needed for the survival of humanity and its surrounding species.
Method and Means:
Getting started is often the most challenging part of the process, considering the high stakes and the seemingly complex situations. By adopting a step-by-step method, the label aims to help a community start or reinforce its approach, to support it in its progress, and to demonstrate its commitment.
The label is not an end per se, but rather a means of encouragement and progress that begins when 2 or 3 people in a community come together with the agreement of their community leaders to start the eco-diagnosis procedure, which allows them to make an initial assessment of the situation.
Then, a process is launched with several levels of labeling and guidance from the Churches and Communities liaison officer who will assess each level of labeling and/or guide each request to determine further actions to reach a new level of labeling.
The label must be renewed each year.
Note: This component is self-financed as of 120 labeled structures. We hope to reach this self- financing objective within 2 years, but we need a fairly reasonable start-up fund in the meantime.
Launch: January 2023
Assessment is continuous and almost in real time through face-to-face interviews and feedback through the online eco-diagnosis platform. It is just as easy for the stakeholder communities to know where they stand as it is for A Rocha Lebanon.
The Symposium – (PJ0003-SYMP)
On the basis of the academic work developed during the international conference on “Animal Piety in Islam” (Paris, November 16-17, 2022), we aim to develop a theology of creation by the organization of an interreligious Symposium on: “Creatures our teachers. On the religious issue of Ecology”.
- To gather thinkers and theologians from the different religious communities and sects of Lebanon
- To orientate the religious thinking toward “a better doctrine of creation” (John Stott) in order to build an environmental awareness among communities. Whereas the doctrine of salvation is about hope, the doctrine of creation is the condition of the human care of here below.
- To understand the ecology of piety, that is the system of interactions between human communities, creatures and space in which the praise of the Creator is only sustainable. In which conditions piety is really the praise of the Creator and not only a social ritual to strengthen the community bonds?
Suggestions of topics
- Evangelical theology:
The orni-theology of John Scott, study of The Birds, Our Teachers: Essays in Orni-theology
“Writing the holy text in the landscape” the material theology of Chris Naylor
Creation versus Nature in Jacques Ellul’s thinking
- Catholic theology:
The encyclical Laudato si
- Muslim theology
The universal piety in the Qur’an
The animal as worshipers of God in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings
ABTS (Arab Baptist Theological Seminary)
Saint Joseph University
The call for paper can be prepared in one month, and once it is published, the conference can be organized after six months.
www.wildlebanon.org – (PJ0004-WLL)
Between 2008 and 2009, Chris Naylor and his A Rocha Lebanon teams developed a highly innovative educational website offering free online resources to schools on the various ecosystems and species in Lebanon. Originally built in static HTML, the website was completely revised in June 2022 to become “responsive” and adapt perfectly to all new digital equipment (PC, tablets, mobile phones…), and fitted with a new design.
Despite remaining in static mode for nearly 15 years, this trilingual site, which was accessible in French, Arabic, and English, still recorded significant levels of connections and consultations, hence our determination to continue the work started so many years ago and to breathe new life into it by modernizing it, but also by carrying out an ambitious update and addition of new data and content.
- To diversify the free digital content offering to broaden the target audience.
- To guarantee simple and secure access to a very broad and almost exhaustive level of knowledge.
- To link all past and future scientific research directly with this portal to further enhance the scientific work of A Rocha Lebanon.
- To turn the portal into a scientific and educational platform for a wider public.
- To work with schools and universities to introduce the approach and working methods to teachers with a view to running classes around this tool or in connection with it.
- To give A Rocha Lebanon a greater visibility through this portal.
Method and Means:
Following the migration of the old website to a new, more modern, and more efficient platform in terms of content management, it is now necessary to feed this platform with new content and the development of existing but relatively old and brief content.
To begin with, it is necessary to transcribe the previous scientific studies into observable and interactive data. Our platform allows this once it is coupled with a Geographic Information System (open source and totally free), which allows to store, process, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial and geographic data. By transcribing the wealth of data collected between 2000 and 2009, we will have an online database allowing us to cross-reference other data from other sources of information or from our own data collected in the near future.
This double component is based on presenting and updating scientific data with a dual obligation: to present reliable data in a clear manner to ultimately build an educational observatory of biodiversity in Lebanon.
Launch: January 2023
Analytical audience measurement tools, such as Google Analytics, provide a very precise and real-time estimate of the number of visits, clicks, and consultation times over a given period. The assessment of the relevance of this tool will be confirmed in view of these statistical statements knowing that this tool, and despite a relatively poor software structure, was still heavily used for the past 15 years. Furthermore, the school and university community must be mobilized to stimulate usage and to provide feedback on their needs, allowing us to evaluate the acceptance rate of the tool in the educational and training spheres.
National Drawing Competition (Concours national de dessin) – (PJ0005-CND)
A Rocha Lebanon’s mission is to provide environmental education. It was quite common in the 2000s to see children coming to Aammiq to draw birds and other species. This practice of linking education, arts, and sciences is even more necessary today as schools with English and French curriculums are becoming more and more interdisciplinary and are looking for projects to carry out. This represents a very interesting opportunity for A Rocha Lebanon to respond to this demand.
- To raise the awareness of Lebanese youth to the respect and promotion of biodiversity in Lebanon.
- To promote interdisciplinary educational projects in schools around a unifying theme.
- To promote schoolwork by exhibiting the student’ productions on a broader scale, going beyond the framework of their school.
- To demonstrate our commitment to quality education in Lebanon and to solidarity with the lowest income families for a fairer access to education.
Method and Means:
By partnering with the Fabriano Bookstore, which has been running its own national drawing competition since 1954, we are relying on a company with an excellent reputation throughout the country and a proven track record of professionalism. This exclusive partnership includes:
- Brochures: Printing our logo on 100,000 advertising flyers with the themes and conditions of participation in the competition. These flyers are distributed to the 100,000 students from 500 public and private schools who participate annually in our competition, starting each year in early November, thereby directly introducing A Rocha in the participating students’ daily lives.
- Promotional posters:
Our logo will also be printed on the 10,000 posters in Arabic and French, which include the themes and are displayed for more than 6 months every year across all schools in Lebanon and distributed along with the brochures to launch Fabriano’s 2022 or 2023 competition.
- Media communication:
Press articles can be written throughout the year to cover the events in progress, such as your participation in Fabriano exhibitions and your presence in award ceremonies.
5 scholarships of 1 million Lebanese Pounds each will be offered in our name and presence to the first prize winners of the competition (based on our theme). These scholarships will be offered over 5 official ceremonies, bringing together parents and students across various schools.
Moreover, gifts will also be distributed to the remaining winners in each of the selected schools. Chosen in the category of drawing materials, these gifts are included in the partnership package for a value of 1,000 USD.
Each year, a series of award-winning drawings are selected to be turned into 50x70cm posters, to be printed in full color and distributed to all schools in Lebanon as a thank you gesture, as well as to the prominent figures present during the various exhibitions. As a main partner, we will have the opportunity to choose a child’s drawing that will be exclusively printed with your logo in 500 copies, including
100 posters given to you free of charge so that you can offer them to your partners as a corporate gift. Printing costs are included in the overall partnership package. The rest of the posters will be offered by Fabriano as a tribute to all participating schools.
Launch: November 2023
The program is monitored continuously between November and the closing of the competition in June. The monitoring in conjunction with Fabriano can guide schools in the management of their class projects and help organize various events, such as class trips or temporary exhibitions. At the end of the first year, data feedback will be done through Fabriano to measure the effectiveness of the project and the success of set objectives.
Educational program on site – (PJ0006-EPS)
Two schools are adjoining the land. We will develop an educational program with teachers on biodiversity, gardening, food independency, composting, etc…
- To discover biodiversity: soil life, crawling insects, flying insects, plants
- To monitor the return of biodiversity on the land of Mekse by doing some experiments on soil, worms and population of pollinating insects
- To initiate to bird watching To celebrate bird migrations
- To initiate to gardening
Method and Means:
Training and hiring of an education officer
Collaborating with schoolteachers
It can be done first scarcely by national directors and volunteers, then developed regularly once the education officer is hired
Environment practical conservation
Nature Park of Meksé – (PJ0007-PNM)
In 2019, A Rocha Lebanon and the municipality of Mekse signed a first three-year agreement for the creation of a nature park on a 7 acres piece of public land. The project was very ambitious and consisted in the transformation of a landfill where no grass could grow into a garden. The land got cleaned of all the rubbish, a fence was built all around protecting the land from the cattle which would have grazed the young sprouts, ponds got dug to collect spring water and to work an irrigation system during the summer drought, thousands of trees got planted and a laurel maze drawn.
Toward an edible forest in Mekse
The proposal is to develop on the 7 acres a “forest garden” managed by a team of local gardeners
The general concept of forest garden
A forest garden is a concept mixing agriculture and forestry. It is agriculture, for it consists in raising edible plants. At the same time, it is forestry, for it consists in constituting the ecosystem of a forest (land partially covered by high trees forming a canopy). In other words, a forest garden is an “edible forest”, a “delicacy of trees”.
While agriculture is a two-dimensions thinking, forest gardening is a three-dimensions thinking, it introduces volumes, then levels of shadow and light, levels of drought and humidity, a large range of temperature, places that are exposed to wind, some that are protected from it, etc. It results in a variety of microclimates that helps raising a high variety of species.
While agriculture consists in taking nutriments from the soil and adding fertilizers, forest gardening is the transformation of a meadow in a sustainable ecosystem thanks to the humus of the undergrowth.
- To create a place where food production is compatible with a high degree of biodiversity
- To give to Mekse city a public space where people can have a recreational walk, a gardening activity and discover biodiversity
- To initiate a team of gardener to forest gardening
- To create a place for celebrating the main events of wild life (bird migrations, blossoming of flowers, fruits ripening, water flood, …)
- To create a hub of environmental projects in West Bekaa along with Taanayel farms and Aamiq wetland
- To survey the soil restoration and the return of biodiversity on the land
- To develop a conservatory of the beekeeping Lebanese heritage
Method and Means :
- Hiring of a chief gardener to manage the team
- Securing of the irrigation system by building windmills with pomp (or setting solar panels) to raise the water from the pounds, and by waterproofing the eastern pond
- Soil restoration and enhancement of soil life thanks to composting, use of manure and mulching of the ground
- Building of an aquaponic system for vegetable production and as an educational tool on ecosystems
- Development of the tree nursery and planting of edible trees and shrubs
- Monitoring of biodiversity, especially pollinating insects thanks to a collaboration with Mons University
- Construction and setup of traditional and educational beehives
Spring 2023: celebration of Spring with the inhabitants of Mekse in order to explain the project and recruit a team of gardeners
2023-24: development of the forest garden and training of the team
2025: opening to the public and delivery of the project to the municipality
Latonia nigriventer of Ammiq – (PJ0008-LNA)
Latonia nigriventer is a species of amphibian in the family Alytidae. It is included in the list of the 100 most endangered species in the world, which was established by the IUCN in 2012.
With no records of the species between 1955 and November 2011, it was thought to be totally extinct due to marsh drainage destroying 95% of its habitat. It is an example of a Lazarus taxon. Despite its reappearance, only six specimens have been observed and its status remains of the greatest concern. It is considered critically endangered by the IUCN.
Recent research indicates that it does not belong to the genus Discoglossus, but to the genus Latonia, previously considered extinct.
This species was endemic to the old dried out marshes of Aamiq and has most likely disappeared. Nevertheless, with the return of the marshes and new technologies allowing to identify more easily the presence of this species, it is quite conceivable to conduct a scientific identification campaign in the marshes of Ammiq, perhaps finding evidence of the presence of this endangered frog in Lebanon and in its immediate vicinity.
- To launch a scientific campaign in connection with at least one university biology department in Lebanon.
- To bring to Lebanon the scientific and technological equipment necessary for successfully conducting this project.
- To identify a source of presence of this endangered species.
- To set up a protection program for this species.
Method and Means:
A range of audio and computer equipment has been recommended, consisting of sensors hidden at various locations in potential habitat sites. Audio capture at different times of the day over a specified collection time will allow for comparing the captured sounds to pre-recorded Latonia nigriventer soundtracks.
Survey of the Bees of Lebanon (PJ0008-BOL)
This project is in the process of being funded.
Thanks to Lebanese people’s love for honey, bees are a good start for awareness on biodiversity collapse. And the situation of Mekse between the wild mountain and the cultivated plateau makes it a perfect site for monitoring the existing biodiversity. Mons University began in 2018 a project of census of wild bees over Lebanon. The study of the Northern part of the country in now achieved, and the Bekaa is still to be monitored. ARL would provide its site of Mekse and its office in Aana as headquarters for the Belgian university. In return, ARL would benefit of a monitoring of the colonization of Mekse site by pollinating insects
Launch: January 2023
The data collected will undoubtedly make it possible to make a clear decision on the presence or extinction of this species, which was once endemic to the humid regions of southern Lebanon.