LEBANON: LEBANON'S PRECIOUS CEDAR FOREST SAVED FROM SAWFLY INFESTATION
80 percent cedar trees infested
One of the largest of the remaining twelve cedar stands in Lebanon had become severely infested by a new species of sawfly. As much as 80 percent of the 50 000 cedar trees spread over 600 hectares was infested. The risk of tree loss was imminent.
Suppressing the sawfly
FAO launched a TCP project in 2001 with a budget of US$150 000 to support investigations on the new pest, testing and validation of appropriate measures of control, training in modern technologies and alternative strategies of pest management, and the development of a monitoring system.
The Ministry of Agrigulture (MoA) mobilized all possible resources to initiate emergency treatments. It fostered mutual cooperation among all project stakeholders and provided timely and efficient logistical and technical support. As a result of this combined effort, the pest population dropped significantly and any further spread of the insect, both within and outside Lebanon, was prevented. In addition, for the first time in more than five years, cone production was reported.
Equipped for prevention
Lebanon is now equipped with the necessary tools not only to deal with an insect infestation but also to prevent further outbreaks. The monitoring and evaluation system has become part of routine forest management practices, and is supervised by personnel from the Rural Development and Natural Resources Directorate of the MoA in collaboration with scientists from the American University of Beirut. The information is used to establish priorities for sawfly suppression projects, evaluate their efficacy and create an inventory of loss or damage resulting from the insect. Data were collected throughout 2003, 2004 and 2005 to record changes in the insect pest population densities. In this way, any management and control tactics required could be implemented immediately, thus maintaining control over the pest.
The project has also attracted funding by the Global Environment Facility and the UN Environment Programme for a cedar protection project which covers the remaining cedar forests in Lebanon and those of neighbouring countries.
Tannourine forest: field sampling.
Tannourine forest; early stage of Cephalcia infestation.