Sanctuary for Tradition and Travellers
“Preserving the environment is not only good for tourism, it also creates jobs.”
A few years ago when nature reserves started appearing in Lebanon, I met some of the young people working at the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve. They began giving lectures on hunting methods and seasons. I became quite interested in these issues and started working in tourism. Through this, I met a young man and we became friends. He explained to me what environmentalism was about and offered me a job. I became a true believer and went from being a hunter to an environmental activist. I worked with them at the reserve, as a team member, some four or five years ago. Then I transferred to the Aammiq reserve.
Truth be told, it’s an impressive initiative. I hope that all Lebanese officials and landowners would also take the initiative to protect the land. This has become a beautiful area with plenty of trees and wildlife. Many environmental projects are being carried out here. This is all thanks to the Skaffs, who greatly contributed to protecting the environment.
Getting my family and friends to understand what I do was a challenge. Education is definitely the first step to persuading people. I began with my friends and family. Gradually, they all came around to the idea. The benefit is clear. Through our work, we have managed to turn 60% or more of the residents into advocates of the environment. Many young people embraced the idea and each began working within their preferred field, but always with a view to protect the environment.
If I did not do this job, I would have worked in anything, really. I think I would have become a farmer, although I don’t particularly like that line of work or find it satisfying, despite it being useful and beneficial to the environment – but it’s not my passion. I was offered many jobs but I feel most comfortable in this one. This is what I was meant to be doing. And it is part of tourism.
Faisal Al Halabi, Lebanon