Under the patronage of his Excellency the minister of environment Mohammad Al Mashnouk, and through the generous contribution of the European Union, UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality, and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon – SPNL in collaboration with the Municipality of Jbeil and the Municipal Cultural Center of Byblos organized a remarkeable event “On the Move Exhibition” and “Souk El Hima”.
On the Move is a visual celebration of the lives and ecological knowledge of transhumant shepherds and nomadic pastoralists in the Mediterranean. The work of six professional photographers from Tunisia (Wassim Ghozlani), Morocco (Younes Tazi), Spain (Gema Arrugaeta), Greece (Stamos Abatis), Lebanon (Assad Saleh) and Turkey (Baris Koça) is presented in a striking collection of sixty photographs. The exhibition kicked off in Tunis and then traveled to Lebanon, Geneva, Madrid, Istanbul and Athens – raising awareness of the links between transhumance and nature conservation as it moves.
The Souk Al Hima program has been established to answer to the local communities’ need to have their products marketed and to raise awareness about the importance of products that are related both to nature and to Lebanese heritage. All the products produced by the targeted local communities are marketed through ‘Souk Al Hima’.
The event also included The Souk El Hima workshops which aimed at enhancing the livelihood of local Lebanese communities in Hima territories, from social, economic, educational and natural perspective, especially women. The workshops trained students from several schools on Birds Nest Making, Bird Whistler and Flutes, Drums and Oud Making , Natural Jewelry and Carpet Weaving.
The Vice-Mayor of Jbeil Ayoub Barq, said during the opening ceremony of the exhibition that the municipality of Jbeil is working on various environmental issues, particularly the protection of the beach from pollution and the preservation of biodiversity. Bareq praised the content of the exhibition that highlights the beautiful nature and the importance of grazing and transhumance in maintaining the ecological balance.
SPNL President Ramzi Saidi, thanked the Minister and Ministry of Environment for sponsoring this event represented by the good person of our friend Mr. Ghassan Sayah the Minister’s Top Consultant. “All our thanks also go to the embassies, the donors, the supporters, the sponsors and all advocates of SPNL. Needless to say, I should extend many thanks to the unprecedented hospitality of the Municipality of Jbeil, this ancient city, a cradle of our civilization, as well as a major contributor to world culture. SPNL is grateful to them and looks forward to work closely with Byblos in a joint project to declare the coast of Jubail as a world recognized HIMA area”. Saidi Added
“This is a day worthy of real celebration to everyone: indeed it’s a source of pride to us at SPNL as well as to the myriads of people who have cooperated with us or were involved in our many efforts over the years. Despite wars, occupations changing fortunes, political upheavals, dissensions and conflicts, SPNL has been able to survive, in one way or another, throughout the past 30 years. Throughout this period, SPNL worked assiduously as a national, non-political, non-regional organization throughout Lebanon: from the Palm Islands and Upper Akkar in north of Lebanon to Ebil El-Saki near the border of occupied Palestine in the South. All of this was achieved with the help and dedication of all our past and present teams, as well as our advocates and donors”. Saidi concluded.
“As part of the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture, Divers Earth is proud to be coordinating this innovative project. We have known for a long time that the practice of transhumance and nomadic pastoralism is extremely important in our region, culturally. But now we also know that it is critically important for nature and biodiversity too.” said Liza Zghaib the Coordinator of Divers Earth representing the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature & Culture in the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
“This amazing collection of professional photographs portrays beautifully a ten-thousand year old practice that is struggling to survive in a modern world. A practice that has contributed greatly to shaping the cultural landscapes of the Mediterranean and maintaining their biodiversity”. Zghaib added.
Rana El-Houjeiri, Programme Specialist for Arab States at the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, stressed the important role played by the Fund for Gender Equality throughout the world that the Fund for Gender Equality is sustaining since its inception in 2009.
This event reflects the sense of the diversity and the national and international partnerships, in additional to its cultural and environmental concept which reflects the views and objectives of UN Women Fund for Gender Equality to enhance the livelihood of rural women and empower them socially and economically through the revival of the Hima approach. In this partnership, we seek to improve the livelihoods of rural women in Lebanon not by introducing new systems, but by reviving the traditions and the heritage, by supporting the concept of Hima that stresses woman’s role mainly in resource management and conservation. El-Houjeiri added
We believe that Souk Al Hima will answer the needs of the local community in having their products marketed. El-Houjeiri concluded.
EU Attaché Bruno Montariol , reiterated the support of the EU to local communities as principal actors of development. He suggested that On the Move exhibition should tour all the Lebanese regions. Montariol conveyed to participants greeting and wishes of Mrs Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the EU Delegation to Lebanon.
Ghassan Sayah Minister’s Al Mashnouk Top Consultant stressed that the concept of Hima and the history of Jbeil do not differ. Almost 1,500 years before modern conservation research arrived at the same idea, a tradition realized the importance of community involvement when preserving natural areas and managing natural resources. Sayah added .
We are thankful for SPNL for their continuous efforts to make the word Hima deeply rooted in people’s collective memory. SPNL is now reviving Hima in Lebanon, where these wise traditional practices with recent conservation science will achieve sustainable development, by respecting the rights of local communities and promoting equity and responsibility for the environment. Sayah concluded.
The opening ceremony witnessed the honoring of the Lebanese Photographer Assad Saleh. This young photographer succeeded in capturing tens of photographs for transhumant shepherds and nomadic pastoralists in Bekaa valley. One of his photographs “The Hope” attracted Annie Griffiths an award-winning National Geographic Photographer.