On Wednesday afternoon, forest fires erupted in the south and north of Lebanon. The main casualty to these fires was 3,000 square meters of oak trees and forages. The fire was caused by the current heat wave the country is suffering from. The Meteorological Department at the Beirut International Airport expects the heat wave to subside, lowering the risk of more forest fires in the near future. David Schroder, the Director of Economic Growth, Water and Environment at USAID-Lebanon explained that the low precipitation rates of the previous winter season have lead to less than normal moisture in the ground, increasing forests’ susceptibility to fires. He also explained that there are other risks of accidental as many refugees live and cook outdoors in rural areas.
Forest fires are another problem that can be attributed to the current drought in Lebanon. However, they are new to the country, nor are they always caused by natural phenomena; in 2002 there were over 15,000 fires, most of which were initiated by farmers who clearing their land but the fire got out of control. Two months ago, the Ministry of Agriculture, after a major forest fire in Baabda, launched an awareness campaign to alert the public of the consequences of these incidences.