Minister Mohammad Machnouk speaks during a conference at the Serail in Beirut, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. (The Daily Star/Khalil Hassan)
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The Association of Forests and Conservation and the Agriculture and Environment ministries rolled out a new awareness campaign Tuesday to prevent forest fires this summer, but civil society activists say that it's not enough.Forest fires are a pertinent issue in Lebanon. Machnouk stated during his speech that 35 percent of land in Lebanon was covered by forests in 1965 but that number has dropped to less than 13 percent today. Halabi also pointed out that the increase in civil society actors and environmental awareness has not stemmed the increase in forest fires over the past four decades. Abi Rached explained that municipalities in Lebanon do not have sufficient resources to handle forest fires.Bou Fakhreddine recognizes that this awareness campaign is not enough by itself. She said that the AFDC has been working closely with the Agriculture Ministry to implement the National Strategy to handle forest fires that was endorsed by the Cabinet in 2009 .
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