Aridi: We hope to achieve community-managed Himas in addressing nature conservation 

Mount Lebanon Hima Centers in Kayfoun received former minister Ghazi Al-Aridi yesterday. There, he met Assad Serhal, Founder and Chairman of HHI, Director General of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), Birdlife International Global Councillor for the Middle East Region, Fadi Ghanem, chairman of the National Committee of the IUCN, as well as SPNL members and environmental activists of the local community.

During his visit, Minister Ghazi Al Aridi stressed the integration of Himas across Lebanon. He highlighted the importance of connecting these community-managed Himas from the coastline to the mountain peaks.
“It is increasingly recognized that environmental conservation is not possible without the active involvement of local communities. This is especially true in the case of natural resource management in Mount Lebanon, where overuse has led to losses in productivity and biodiversity and has negatively impacted ecosystems”. Aridi added.

“I hope that further efforts will be made by SPNL and other civil society organizations to strengthen legal and institutional infrastructures for developing and managing Himas,” Aridi concluded.
Serhal welcomed Minister Aridi and highlighted the importance of a community-based approach to conservation in the Hima.
The Hima is a system for preserving traditionally protected areas, which has been practiced for more than 1500 years in the Arabian Peninsula. In Arabic, “Hima” means “a protected area” that is used for the public good, and it takes into consideration the interaction between nature conservation and human well-being. The hima system aims to protect land and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources by and for local communities, thus ensuring fair use of resources and biodiversity.

“A hima is one of the most successful systems for integrating nature conservation with human well-being, and recognizes the importance of demonstrating the relationship between protected areas and the public good through activities ranging from capacity building, services for the poor, and evaluating and improving adherence to environmental laws. The hima represents a distinct opportunity to promote multidisciplinary and sustainable approaches to addressing challenges in access to environmental justice” said Fadi Ghanem.

SPNL members showcased successful stories like the Hima Charter in Mount Lebanon, illustrating how these initiatives empower local communities and promote sustainable practices. The focus was on marketing these concepts widely to foster economic empowerment and environmental stewardship throughout Lebanon’s diverse landscapes from Rafik Al Hariri’s Airport.

For 40 years, SPNL has been working on protecting biodiversity in Lebanon, and its mission is to perfect this approach by integrating traditional knowledge and practices with scientific research, and SPNL since then has identifies 15 marginalized Himas as well as areas of biodiversity throughout the Lebanese territories, and it established 25 Himas in Lebanon . These accomplishment made it possible for SPNL to become a founding member of the Mediterranean Union founded and funded by MAVA.
HIMA’s programs aim to strengthen the concept of preserving Himas (Homat al Hima) that was launched by SPNL thanks to support of several donors and partners including Luc Hoffman founder of MAVA foundation, and to hounor his contribition Mount Lebanon Hima Centers in Kayfoun carry his name.