The Municipality of Saida has taken legal action against a number of individuals for repeatedly cutting down old trees despite numerous warnings. A few residents complained to the municipality that a landowner and a number of workers were cutting down trees on a pavement. The Mayor of Sidon Mohammmad Saudi said that the police patrol that followed up on the complaints managed to confiscate the equipped used to chop the tree. However, this did not stop the perpetrator who continued to cut down all trees and was able to get a local influential group to intervene and drop the charges against him.
This incident highlights a major law enforcement problem in Lebanon, as widespread corruption at various levels of the government has resulted in poor implementation of the law. This story demonstrates how the environment can be a victim to this phenomenon. If the police and environmental prosecutor are unable to halt an individual from felling a few trees, how can we expect them to hold up to companies accountable for polluting various water resources in Lebanon or the digging of illegal wells? The current water shortage is not only a result of the last few dry winters but also the state’s inadequate management of our resources. Enforcement is a key component of management of natural resources which should be treated as a public good, not a common resource to plunder; without this, it is safe to expect the Lebanese environment to always be in a dire state.