By Assad Serhal,
Director General, SPNL
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Homat Al Hima (HH) are intrinsic to the Hima communities, the same villages and towns are inbred and inborn.
The experiences Nature and Biodiversity bring to people are mainly local.
The Hima is the Homat Al Hima’s first love from which they grasp the first breath of fresh air. Their ears get tuned to the soft whispers of the nearby forest tree leaves’, to the songs and sounds of the birds and wildlife, to the water rushing down from the Hima hills, and to the waves crashing endlessly on the Hima beaches inviting local farmers, shepherds and fishermen to harvest and gather the Hima resources while the first rays of sunshine paints the Hima landscapes; a picture we, Homat Al Hima , will cherish till the last days of our lives .
HH understand their Hima weather and climate as well as their local wildlife, the way they know their families, friends and community members they have grown among since their early child- hood. They have witnessed the first flower to bloom and the last bird to migrate from their Himas.
They have acquired the tastes of their local cuisine and the songs and dances in their village festivals.
They are the custodians of their natural and cultural heritage. Biodiversity conservation has the potential to benefit us all. Regional and international initiatives for conservation are important. Most importantly, conservation action has to be focused on very specific places, and must involve local people. A local approach helps to ensure the appropriate application of local knowledge. It builds on the motivation of local stakeholders, enhances the prospects of sustainability, increases efficiency and legitimacy, empowers people, has the potential to reduce conflict, and respect people’s rights.
Through its local engagement and Empowerment Program, Birdlife aims to provide support for local conservation actions. It strengthens and expands networks of local individuals and organizations that are working to protect the places and nature they value.
Hima in Arabic means Protected Area. It is a community that acts for the conservation of sites, species and habitats in order to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. Its origin goes back more than 1,500 years ago and it is spread along the Arabian Peninsula as a “tribal” system for sustainable management of natural resources.
In recent years the Hima approach- one that roots conservation in the actions of local communities- has seen a revival, as an alternative and complementary approach to the designation of protected areas by states. Efforts to promote the principles of Himas have been especially active in Lebanon, where 17 Himas got established in the last 12 years with municipalities, led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL).
“Homat Al-Hima is an Arabic slogan widely used to recognize the individuals and groups acting as Hima guardians and Heroes. Homat Hima are motivated, well trained & equipped young from local Hima communities, aspiring to lead on activities to give exposure to the Himas, and their communities work including environmental, economical and social concerns, and to assure the conservation of the site and its key biodiversity, and the ecological and cultural services it provides.”
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Leb- anon (SPNL) sincerely thanks the support of the European Union, granted through the project “Enhancing livelihoods of Local Lebanese communities in Hima territories; from social, economical and natural perspectives”. Based on which Homat Hima program was initiated, enabling SPNL to contribute further with raising awareness, delivering reliable environmental information, and concretely protecting natural areas in Lebanon, through building capacities of local communities and safeguarding their natural resources, as well as promoting sustain- able income generating activities for enhanced livelihoods. In addition, SPNL appreciates the great partnership from the MAVA Foundation and their continuous support to SPNL initiatives.
Further thanks to the our main partners, municipalities of the Himas involved in the pilot stage; namely: Anjar, Kfar Zabad, Ain Zebdeh, Kherbet Qanafar, and El Fekha; where their granted sup- port and cooperation is crucial for the success of Homat Hima programme within the Hima approach.