By Lina Sarkis (Al Shouf Cedar Society) and Jamal Hamzeh (Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon)
Summer is peaceful for the Nubian Ibex in the Aana enclosure in the West Bekaa, within the Shouf Biosphere Reserve. This species, which disappeared from Lebanon towards the end of the 18th century, was reintroduced through efforts led by Al Shouf Cedar Society. In October 2017, 12 heads were brought in from Wadi Rum, Jordan. We unfortunately lost 4, happily had 11 births, and can now see 19 Ibexes roaming the open spaces within the enclosure, climbing the steep rocks with their strong hoofs and waiting for their upcoming release into the wild. Camera traps have been placed to observe them, and this allowed us to witness some spectacular fights between the males during mating season. Otherwise they are peaceful animals, the females stay with the youngsters and the males follow them around, keeping their distance.
Photo credit: A fight between males – by Shouf Biosphere Reserve
As part of efforts to restore West Bakaa landscape multi-functionality and its associated cultural practices, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) developed a management and restoration plan for degraded high mountain pastures in the Himas of West Bekaa in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut and jointly implemented it with local municipalities and shepherds. The design restoration plan covered mountain areas between Saghbine and Ain Zebdeh mountains, and more specifically, the 15-hectare demo-plot of Hima Ain Zebdeh. The rehabilitation plan includes rotational grazing, water management, and re-seeding of native legumes. In order to ensure the involvement and commitment of involved stakeholders, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between SPNL, the municipality of Ain Zebdeh and the municipality of Saghbine. In addition, 1,150 vaccines were distributed to shepherds as an incentive to encourage them to respect the grazing plan and motivate them to take care of natural pastures and not to graze in newly-afforested areas where grazing is not permitted.
Photo credit: Digging to build cement water reservoirs for the herd – by SPNL
Marinos studied Greek Culture at the Hellenic Open University, attended Folklore courses at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and has completed a series of seminars in History, Philosophy, Journalism and New Media.
Nikos Mastropavlos is a journalist, cultural scientist, and the publisher of www.eudemonia.gr which focusses on the culture of everyday life in Greece - especially food, travel and the arts.
Renato Álvarez was born into a “neo-rural” family who were trailblazers of organic farming in Andalusia. They were also members of the first social movements and associations dedicated to the production and organic food. Since he was little he was involved in agriculture until he decided to study Environmental Sciences at the Pablo de Olavide University (Seville).
Fábio Bernardino is a Chef, the CEO of Travel & Flavours, a teacher, gastronomic consultant, trainer and event organizer; a young Chef whose excellence opened the doors to major Portuguese hotels and restaurants, like the Pestana Hotéis & Resorts group or the Heritage Lisboa Hotels, where he left his mark of professionalism and rigour. With a great passion for cooking, and especially for pastry, he started his career at the age of 14, when he attended the Professional Cooking and Pastry Course of the Lisbon Hotel and Tourism School.
Alfredo Cunhal Sendim was born in Porto and spent his childhood between Lisbon (the city), Montemor-o-Novo (the countryside) and Ferragudo (the sea). Studied veterinary and zoo technical. In 1990 he moved to the Monte of Herdade do Freixo do Meio, a territory where, step by step, he has been developing a structural project in the agricultural and social field.
Nine years ago, Sahar left her home in California and landed in Morocco in a quest to find herself. While she started a new life in Marrakech, she found some challenges to find restaurants that catered to vegetarians like herself. Since she always enjoyed hosting dinner parties and food-related fundraising events, she started cooking for friends which grew into welcoming people into her beautifully restored hundred-year-old house, for unique culinary experiences.
Born to Moroccan parents in a small town near San Sebastian in Spain, Najat Kaanache has been cooking at home since childhood. Now based between the US, Mexico and Morocco. She now creates magic in the kitchen as the owner and chef of the beautiful restaurant Nur in the ancient medina of Fez, named World’s Best Moroccan Restaurant in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She also opened CÚS (a Moroccan bistro in the heart of Mexico City) and Nacho Mama (a funky Mexican cantina in the medina of Fez).
Driss Mellal was born in a small town in the south of Morocco, near the beautiful Dades valley. His love for cooking started at the age of 20, when he was in art school in southern France. He missed Moroccan food and flavours and so started cooking and experimenting himself. After graduating from art school, he didn’t work in the arts as planned, but instead went to culinary school. “I finally got to combine my art background with new cooking skills, and it became the start of a new life for me,” Driss says.
Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza collaborated with the city council of Madrid to organise the annual Fiesta de la Trashumancia Madrid 2019 (Transhumance Festival)—which saw 1800 sheep and 200 goats pass through the centre of Spain’s capital city. The event, now in its 26th year, was successful in creating awareness on the importance of maintaining this ancestral practice of which Spain is a global example and that is a very valuable tool in the fight against climate change and rural depopulation, among other benefits.
In September last year, we set out to observe and learn about migratory birds and their flight paths. Joined by local and international bird experts, we worked alongside the Hima Hammana community to observe the birds that flew overhead, while learning from the experts about bird monitoring processes.