Title of workshop: Bird Identification and Monitoring Training Program
Title of workshop: Canoeing & Safety in Water
Title of workshop: Flora and Fauna Training
Title of workshop: Guide Training
Title of workshop: Landscape & Hima Training
Title of workshop: Social Media, Business Planning, & Event Management Training Workshop
Title of workshop: Water & Sustainable agriculture Training workshop
Title of workshop:Bird Identification and Monitoring Training Program
Number of persons attending: 17 participants (Annex -1)
Workshop Coordinator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Dr. Ghassan Jaradi – Prof. Dr. In Eco-Ornithology
Objectives of workshop:
- Learn and understand the significance of Birds ecologically and economically.
- Know the reasons behind the decrease of birds population
- Learn basic bird Identification Techniques
- Learn basic bird Watching Tools & Techniques
On Saturday April 2, 2016, the bird identification & monitoring training was conducted in Anjar at the women’s atelier. The workshop was initially planned for two days; day one in Anjar, and the second day at the Visitors’ center in Kfar Zabad. Unfortunately, due to an accident that occurred in Kfar Zabad two days prior to the training, it was advised to cancel the second day and settle for only one training day in Anjar.
In Anjar, we came to know at the last moment that most of the youth (many of which were expected audience for our workshop) had to attend a previously planned training arranged by their political party / municipality. That in turn, led to minimal participation from Anjar; only five young individuals from Anjar participated, in addition to two of our focal points there (7 from Anjar), and the rest of the participants came from Kfar Zabad, amounting up to 10 individuals, including our Kfar Zabad Focal Person. Thus, list of participants was 17 people from both villages.
Nonetheless, as learnt from Anjar’s focal person, that most of the youth that were to attend the training, have had previous training with SPNL regarding bird Identification, and/or are hunters and have all the basic knowledge that was intended from this workshop. Given that this training was on basic techniques for bird identification and monitoring, participants would have not been interested in its contents.
As for the course of the training, everything went as scheduled, the session was initiated by Ms. Vanessa Khaddage with a briefing on the objectives and schedule of the training day, followed by an icebreaker activity, where everybody introduced themselves and participated in the development of “A code of Conduct” policy for the day. Afterwards Dr Ghassan Jaradi, SPNL’s consultant, took lead and went through the provided PowerPoint presentations (annex 2).
Throughout the progression of the presentations lots of participation from the attendees was observed, especially during the display of images and interactive slides, ex. Guessing bird type, using identification criteria, etc.…
Along with Dr Jaradi, came three visitors; experienced bird watchers joined us throughout the training and contributed by sharing images they have taken during their bird watching activities.
During the morning session, one of the participants kept on losing focus and interest, so he was assigned to aid Dr. Jaradi with the PowerPoint Presentation and flipping slides, which made him put much more attention in the training and ended up participating with the rest of the group.
Last but not least, after the “theoretical part” / presentations were done, the bird identification manual was distributed to all participants to aid them through the practical training, followed with a breakfast bought from a local housewife in Anjar.
Prior to the field training, a short briefing on how to use the binoculars was done by Dr Jaradi. Participants were split into 3 groups; each group was provided with two binoculars due to an unexpected shortage with the number of binoculars.
As per the schedule (annex 3) the group went for the bird identification and monitoring activity, first destination was at Anjar’s Ruins Area followed by lunch from a local restaurant in Anjar. Next was the field activity in the Forest & Wetland. The groups interchanged: some walked through the forest while another group roamed around with the boat as they monitored and watched ducks, birds and other wildlife available in the area.
During the field we were able to see and identify
- Hooded crow
- Collared doves
- Pair of Hoopoe
- Heard the voice of White wagtail
- A couple male & female Black-eared Wheatear
- European Serin
- Syrian Serin
- Green finch
- A couple of Common Blackbird
- Heard the voice of goldfinch
- Cetti’s Warbler
- Night heron (as explained by Dr Jaradi, this species is a bio-indicator, it signals healthy condition of water levels and quality, which in turn should be monitored on annual basis. Additionally, Dr Jaradi stated that the Night heron is breeding in Anjar for the second year.)
- Freshwater turtle
Comments and quotes from participants
The training was fully covered with professional photography; some images attached in annex 4, as well as video recording. In the video, we took the chance to personally ask the participants about the training and below are segments of what they had to say,
- Lama Choker, participant from Kfar Zabad: “… we were able to see and identify several birds with the aid of the provided Bird Identification manual, it was a nice experience, as I never had any interest in birds before, but now I’m walking around alone trying to find and identify a bird by myself and before anyone else in the group…”
- Varant Hadjain, participant from Anjar: “ … I’m very happy with this training, because we learned several new information, from which we can benefit from. We had lots of fun as a group. After this learning session regarding bird watching; I’m having lots of hope for the future, I want to become a birdwatcher, and an environmental activist too, as well as conserving nature and the environment…”
- Ghassan Abou Rjeily, participant from Kfar Zabad: “its my first experience ever with bird watching, never had any curiosity towards birds, I’m not even a hunter, but I liked the idea of watching the birds, learning about their characteristics, habits and knowing how they look like and their naming’s. It also encouraged me knowing and identifying birds when being in certain societies…. The experience is very nice… a while ago we saw two Common Blackbirds, we started approaching them slowly … this might become a hobby for me, plus that I love taking pictures too it’s a great idea”
- Khalil Choker, Kfar Zabad focal Point: “… based on my 12 years of experience in the field with SPNL and Hima conservation, all participants that have previously been involved and new comers have always expressed interest and pleasant experience with such trainings as they are learning and getting to know new information about their environment, which in turn keeps on encouraging the youth. And today all participants are very happy to be part of these activities as they are having the chance to connect with nature, and in the lands they were nurtured from… ”
Evaluation and feedback:
Based on a general evaluation form (refer to annex 5 & 6 for details) done towards the end of the training day the Overall evaluation based on participants and Focal points opinions and input totaled to 4.3/5, which is a very good rating.
Some specific aspects graded as 3 (fair), such as; the training was useful for current and future needs, interesting methods to deliver information, clear and convenient audiovisuals
As well as, the duration allocated for the training, shall be treated as areas of improvement from our side to insure satisfaction and involvement of committed participants.
Further to the rating various participants had comments and personal feedback to share with all stated herewith in annex 7.
Recommendations & Areas of Improvement:
A major area of improvement observed during the workshop as well reflected in the questionnaire was the method of data delivery. Participants are more interested and attentive during interactive slides, Q/As, and experience/story exchange. Thus, theoretical parts and data presentation should be transformed into more interactive methods through which you can grab the attention of the participants.
Another major aspect for improvement is further and constant coordination with concerned persons regarding participants and the scope of target audience. Consequently, criteria for participants should be developed and finalized and communicated with focal points as well as community leaders to guarantee the participation and the benefiting of the widest range of people as practically possible.
During a side conversation with one of the participants we came to know that in Kfar Zabad (challenging community) there is a cultural center led by a very respected community figure, who is leading a group of young people and mentoring them through educational and development activities.
Such figures and centers could be approached to participate in many of our workshops, since they are already working on community basis and awareness purposes.
Equipment and tools, as mentioned above, half of the binoculars allocated in the municipality of Anjar went missing, we couldn’t find any clear explanation for the missing equipment. Thus, another storing or inventory procedure should be developed to safeguard such equipment. For example assigning only one responsible person for those equipment as an “Inventory keeper” where he would have clear register of the used or borrowed equipment, and users will have to deposit either an ID or money prior to have access to any of the equipment provided.
Summing up, we were able to conduct a successful training; we adopted and implemented new evaluation methods, which seemed to be reflective and constructive. We were able to identify additional potential committed volunteers/staff, through visual observations as they apply what they have learned during the practical training. Participants showed added interest in future workshops. Additionally, we succeeded to involve community members as part of our support to livelihood improvement, through involving local housewives and local restaurants in food provision.
Annex 3: Schedule
One day training – Basic Bird Identification and Monitoring Workshop
Date: Saturday April 2, 2016
Location : Hima Anjar Women Atelier
|Registration||8:30 am – 9 :00 am|
|Opening – Icebreaking activity + code of conduct & introduction||9:00 am – 9:30 am|
|1 – Importance of birds
2 – Bird Identification criteria
3 – Bird watching/Monitoring tools and techniques
4 – Q&A
|9:30 am – 11:00 am|
Snacks & Coffee break
|11:00am – 11:30 am|
|Application od techniques – Field Trip (Bird Identification in Urban & Anjar Ruins Area)||11:30am – 1:300 pm|
|1:30pm – 2:30 pm|
|Application od techniques – Field Trip ( Bird Identification in Forest & Wetland) /Canoe in forest area& forest trip||2:30 pm – 4:30 pm|
Title of workshop: Canoeing & Safety in Water (schedule in Annex – 1)
Number of persons attending: 22 participants (Annex – 2)
Workshop Coordinator/facilitator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Andre Bechara – Ecotourism Coordinator
Objectives of workshop:
- Understand what is canoeing and all the related risks to it
- Be able to properly manoeuvre and handle the canoe and paddles confidently and be confident in water.
- Be able to differentiate between waters of rivers, lakes, etc.… are all very different they demand knowledge and skill.
- Develop guiding skills
- Learn all needed tools and equipment and how to be use it
- Learn how to capsize, to rescue, and how to be prepared for an emergency.
As a part of SPNL’s Homat Al Hima (HH) mentoring program, aiming to build the skills and empower the leadership role of the HH “who are youngsters from the Hima sites” interested to serve the Hima sites, through supporting in Hima site & biodiversity management. Mr. Andre Bechara, SPNL’s Educational and Ecotourism expert conducted the training on Canoeing and Safety in Water in Hima Anjar, on 12-13 March 2016.
The aim of the training was to teach HH about canoeing techniques, tools used, in addition to handling visitors when canoeing and insuring their safety in water.
During the training, the participants from both Hima sites Anjar and Kfar Zabad joined summing up to 22 people. The program started as scheduled with minor deviations from the planned timing. During the introduction of the day training, many of the participants exhibited a bit of disinterest. The coordinator /observing member Ms. Vanessa Khaddage did a small interference, to emphasizing on the importance and seriousness of the project and shared the long-term goals and objectives of the program, including capacity building, job opportunities, developing their villages. Etc.… Andre went through the program step by step, through explanation and displaying the desired techniques. Eventually, as the theoretical/explanation part of the training came to end and the practical session started, most of the participants’ level of interest and participation were boosted and their interaction with the training material increased. Only a couple of the participants kept on showing disinterest during the day, eventually they affirmed their indifference to the program at the end of day one.
During the training, all participants performed the trainings as requested, however 4 participants, names indicated with an arrow on the attached list of participants; showed distinctive interest and participation (based on visual observation as well as trainers comments).
As for the trainer Mr. Andre, he was well satisfied with the engagement and participation of the trainees, yet he emphasized on the need of additional practice, as such activities require longer training hours to acquire the adequate skills and proper techniques as well as profound safety measures and emergency response. During the training the water trail in the Anjar Riparian forest was tested by the trainees who, practiced their canoeing skills in the site & performed different scenarios about how to insure safety of visitors in water. Accordingly the trainees and trainer noted that the water trail requires proper clean up to allow access to a wider area within the Hima which is important to serve touristic objectives.
Lastly, images from the training day are attached herewith (Annex 3), the training was fully covered with professional photography and video recording.
Conclusion & Achieved Outputs:
Finally the overall performance and synergy in the program went well, however minor improvements could be implemented to insure better application, and more involvement of both communities.
As for the achieved learning outcomes as indicated by Mr Andre are as following:
- Taking visitors/clients out on the canoe
- Paddling technique
- Technique on balancing the canoe
- Capsizing and emptying the canoe
- Paddling in one line 3 canoes (aliened) at once.
- Technical paddling (denage, stop, back paddling etc.)
- Usage of Personal Protective equipment; using life jacket in the proper way
- Attiring clients/ visitors with the life jackets
- Presenting the activity and welcoming clients/visitors.
- Risk assessment and how to avoid accidents
The program’s Schedule was planned as below:
|09.00-10.00 am||Introduction:|| Student and instructor course expectations
What is canoeing?
Assumption of risk, challenge by choice, medical disclosure
|10.00-10.30 am||PFD|| PFD policy (always wear on water)|
|10.30-11.00 am||The paddling environment|| Wind
|11.00-12.00 am||Preparation:|| Personal ability
Water comfort and confidence
Fitness, conditioning, and warm up
|01.00-03.30 pm||Group management|| Safe paddle and boat handling
Safety and rescue considerations
Personal equipment (reviewed by instructor)
Handling groups (kids-adults)
|Equipment|| Life Jackets (PFDs): types and fit
Canoes: types, materials, parts
Paddles: types (straights, bents), parts, sizing, hand position.
Care of equipment.
|Personal equipment|| Water, food, shoes, hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, sun-glasses, eyeglass straps, protective clothing for heat or cold, sponge, bailer/pump, whistle, knife, light.|
|08.00-09.30 pm||Getting Started|| Warm up and stretching
How to pick up a canoe safely.
Car topping: loading and unloading, racks, straps.
Launching and landing.
Boarding, three points of contact, keeps weight low, etc.
Positions in the canoe, sitting, kneeling, etc.
Posture, rocking and balance.
Water comfort and confidence.
How to empty a canoe.
Types of strokes: power, turning.
Stroke components: catch, propulsion, recovery (CPR)
Safe and effective body usage.
|09.30-10.30 am||Maneuvers|| Forward: travel in reasonably straight line
Stopping: stop in a reasonable distance
Spin: pivot in place
Turn: turn in arc while underway
Moving abeam: boat moves sideways without headway
Stop turns (onside and offside)
Sideslips: boat moves sideways
|10.30-11.00 am||Dealing with hazards|| River features
Broaching (lean into obstacle)
Pins and entrapments
|11.00-12.00 pm||Safety and Rescue|| Exercising Judgment
Hypothermia: help/huddle, clothing
Dehydration: hydration, clothing
Hazards: wind, waves, weather, current, rocks, bridges, dams, strainers
|01.00-01.30 pm||Important|| Importance of First Aid & CPR
Importance of additional instruction, practice, experience
|01.30-02.00 pm||Conclusion and Wrap Up|| Group debrief
Title of workshop: Flora and Fauna Training (schedule in Annex – 1)
Number of persons attending: 21 participants (Annex – 2)
Workshop Coordinator/facilitator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Dr. Ghassan Jaradi – Prof. Dr. In Eco-Ornithology, and Husein Ali Zorkot – Biologist and Researcher
Objectives of workshop:
- Know what to look for when identifying fauna in field
- Know the common fauna in Anjar /Kfar Zabad Area
- Ability to identify fauna by tracking footprints and scats
- Comprehend plants/flora
- Learn basic flora anatomy
- Know what to search for plant/flora identification
- Acquaintance to basic sketching for flora identification
On Saturday May 21st, 2016, the flora and fauna training workshop was conducted in al Hima center located in the village of Kfar Zabad, with the attendance of 21 participants from the local communities of Anjar and Kfar Zabad. Including professional photographers. (Annex – 7)
This time the workshop started with a breakfast and coffee in the early morning, to have better chances in finding nocturnal animals and birds in the cool hours of the morning. During the breakfast, handouts with images of the expected fauna species to be seen during the field work (annex – 3), were given out to participants. Dr Jaradi; Prof. Dr. In Eco-Ornithology and SPNL’s consultant, started explaining the difference between each species and what to look for or focus at during their identification.
Dr. Jaradi explained different things such as the difference between the red fox and Jackal; he explained the difference between their paws’ prints as well as the color of their tail tip, where the red fox has a white tail tip whereas the jackal doesn’t. Dr Jaradi elaborated on the Mole-rat and the Levant Vole, both are frequently and widely seen in the area, he mentioned that the mole has strong front teeth (incisors) used for digging, he feeds on plantation roots and is commonly found in agricultural areas, and forms a heap like habitat. As for the vole also widely spread in Lebanon, it can be differentiated from other rodents by its short tail, and is an important meal for many predators such as owls, buzzards, kestrels, harriers, weasels, cats, foxes and snakes; its presence could be identified through holes in the ground. Following, Dr Jaradi as well, went through the number of birds commonly found in the area, and the variation in their colors, which facilitates their identification. Afterwards, binoculars were distributed to participants, and we all moved towards Kfar Zabad’s wetland. During the field walk we were able to spot the following:
Birds (seen and heard): Annex – 4
1. Little Grebe (Podiceps ruficollis)
2. Little Heron/Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
3. Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon)
4. Common Swift (Apus apus)
5. Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
6. Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
7. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
8. Blackbird (Turdus merula)
9. Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
10. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
11. Eurasian Coot – breeding (Fulica atra)
12. One White Stork – broken leg (Ciconia ciconia)
13. Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
14. Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
15. Mallard with chicks (Anas platyrhynchos)
16. Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides)
What’s worth pointing out here, is that during the field tour we were able to observe all the bird species discussed previously in the distributed document, except for the Night Heron; which was spotted breeding in Anjar, during the Bird Identification Workshop conducted earlier, around the beginning of spring.
- Water snakes (Natrix tessellata)
- Frogs (Hyla Savignyi & Rana Bedriagae)
- Crabs spp.
- Habitat of Levant Vole (holes in ground) (Microtus guentheri)
- Skin of Coluber snake (Coluber jugularis)
- Terrapin turtle (Mauremys caspica)
One downside faced during our sightseeing in Kfar Zabad’s Hima, was that the shepherded dogs that attempted to attack the participants disturbed and prevented us from examining the signs of mole rats and the scats, which abound in that area.
None of the mammals were seen in the Hima, as mentioned above most mammals are nocturnal animals and due to the timing most mammals were back in their habitats by the time we had the field work. So some changes in plan were done and participants were taken to a nearby Zoo in Anjar, so they would be able to see some of the important inhabiting mammals. The keeper is a resident from Anjar called Mosig, he has built a zoo-like place as hobby next to his house, where he takes care of many of the residing and non-residing mammals of the area; namely different types of rabbits, a couple of adult and a baby of red foxes, a wolf, several peacocks (males and females), two porcupines, and a pregnant horse.
After viewing the mammals, especially the wolf and the fox, where participants were able to see the characteristics Dr Jardi has explained during the breakfast, participants were taken back to Kfar Zabad Hima center for lunch. The food was bought from a local woman in Kfar Zabad, as part of SPNL’s approach for promoting communities’ livelihoods and women empowerment.
Following lunch, sketching pads and pencils were distributed to the trainees, as Husein Ali Zorkot; a Biologist and Researcher, started his session by explaining all the required tools and equipment when out in field for flora research and identification, i.e. pencil, sketch pads, magnifier, camera, and flora field guide, etc.… afterwards a sample of the Field Guide (Annex – 5) to the Wildflowers of Hima El Fekha and the Adjoining Region’, focusing on the wildflowers growing in that region, written and illustrated by Husein Ali Zorkot himself, was shown to the participants for them to have a clearer idea about a flora guide. Husein continued with the basic terminology used during flora identification, namely, shape, edge (margin), tip, base, surface, hairiness, surface patterning, vein patterning, and size. Next he explained leaves’ general characteristics and morphology (large-scale features), where he illustrated simplified drawings using flashcards for each of its major elements, starting with the basic leaf types and margin formation, arrangement on the stem, divisions of the blade, and characteristics of the petiole (the stalk that connects the leaf to the stem). Lastly, and using the same approach, Husein illustrated the morphology of the flower or floral structure, he explained that parts of a flower could be considered of two parts: the vegetative part, consisting of petals, sepal, and associated structures, and the reproductive parts, including stigma, style, stamens, and filament. (Pictures of illustrations used are attached in annex – 6).
Flashcards were distributed as Husein explained each card, and trainees had to reproduce those drawing on their sketchpads as a learning process for the major and basic elements that will enable them to identify any type of flora.
Finally, after illustration and sketching was over we moved towards the field to start identifying and applying what have been learned earlier. In that process with Husein, 8 plants were observed after the lecture:
- Field bindweed, lesser bindweed, corn bind – Convolvulus arvensis
- Himalayan Berry – Rubus hedycarpus
- Fremde Bibernelle / Kleine Bibernelle – Pimpinella peregrina
- Giant reed – Arundo donax
- Creeping thistle – Cirsium siculum
- Walnut – Juglans regia
- Wild Mustard – Sinapis arvensis
- Common poppy – Papaver rhoeas
Finally, the training day went well and as planned we managed to deal with the shortcomings, such as the failure to observe mammals around the wetland. The intended objectives were met, as participants were enthusiastic during the tour and managed to spot many of the mentioned species above, by using the acquired data presented by Dr Jaradi and Husein Zorkot. Lastly, we were also able to meet an ongoing objective of local community empowerment and livelihood improvement.
Annex 1: Schedule
Title of workshop: Guide Training (schedule in Annex – 1)
Number of persons attending: 22 participants (Annex – 2)
Workshop Coordinator/facilitator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Andre Bechara – Ecotourism Coordinator, Khalil Shoker & Sami Abou Rjeily; SPNL’s focal points in Kfarzabad, and Berj Tumberian & Jean Banboukian; SPNL’s focal points in Anjar.
Objectives of workshop:
- Empower local Community
- Capacity building (Guiding Skills) through existing Local guides
- Understand the roles and responsibilities of a local guide
- Know and Identify the basics of hiking tools and equipment
- Know how to receive a group, and steps to be done prior to any tour
- Understand the relationship between agricultural farming and Al Hima
On Saturday April 16th, 2016, the guide-training workshop was conducted in al Hima center located in the village of Kfar Zabad, with the attendance of 22 participants from the local communities of Anjar and Kfar Zabad.
The workshop was commenced with a welcoming and encouraging message by SPNL’s Training coordinator Ms. Vanessa Khaddage, who emphasized on the significance of the audiences’ participation and commitment to the ongoing program, to ensure the success and the continuity of local development and improved livelihoods. Further more, she welcomed new participants in the group and thanked those who have been committed through out all the conducted trainings so far.
Following the opening, Mr. Khalil Shoker, who is one of SPNL’s focal point in Kfar Zabad, a volunteer to the Hima for the past 12 years, as well as a current Local Guide for Al Hima Area, took lead in the training and elaborated based on his personal experience with SPNL and as a Local Guide on the role of a tour guide. He explained that a guide should not only lead a group but also be able to instruct the group under his responsibility. Khalil defined the tour guide, as a person who accompanies the tourists, visitors and/or foreign delegations, from the moment of arrival to the moment of their departure, through regions and cities, to landmarks, historical and archaeological areas, and provides them with all the essential information about the setting. Additionally, Khalil emphasized on the ability of the guide to adequately respond to inquiries addressed to the guide, with objective and accurate information only and always avoiding interpretations and personal comments and opinions.
In addition to escorting the visitors, the guide should be well aware of all the potential dangers and risks of the desired designation, and be able to keep his group as safe as possible by choosing his activities based on the studied risks as well as highlighting and informing his group of all those potential risks and what to do in case of any emergency. Further to the well being of the group, Khalil added that the guide is responsible of ensuring the groups’ and their properties/belongings are not subjected to any kind of vandalism or harassment.
In return, the guide shall be rewarded with a remuneration determined by the responsible /official bodies or a wage agreed upon with corresponding organizers/organizations like in the case of SPNL in the Hima areas.
Khalil, summed up by delivering an essential aspect regarding the guide’s responsibility, which is to always to ensure the success of the tour, convey a positive image of the area, besides showcasing the true historical, cultural, and traditional heritage of the inhabiting population in the areas. Consequently, tourists/visitors will be able to correlate all the observed natural aspects with what has been communicated by the guide, thus fulfilling their curiosity about the area and reinforcing its importance.
During Khalil’s part, most participants were listening. Minimal participation was noted, which was during the beginning only, when Khalil posed the question “what is a Guide?” for the participants to answer; most participants had a general idea of the topic. After which Khalil resumed his presentation.
Following Khalil started Berj Tumberian, who is a SPNL member and focal point from Anjar, Local Guide and Hima Anjar manager.
Berj was responsible for explaining and presenting the basic tools and equipment used for hiking. He started with a short briefing about hiking and its health benefits (wellbeing, helps in veiling signs of aging, enhancing Fitness, etc.…), amusement and ongoing “entertainment” during hiking regardless if the area has been visited more than once, since one may always encounter new types of species; birds, mammals, reptiles and insects in their environments, giving the tourist/hiker the chance to observe and understand their behaviors. Berj continued by explaining the importance of risk consideration during hiking, by illustrating the fundamental tools and equipment that a hiker should always have during a hike. The participants were asked to guess some of these basic tools and equipment, but as expected little had the full idea of the needs. So Berj explained the following:
The basic hiking equipment and secondary equipment.
- Basic equipment:
- Common sense: “It’s something that doesn’t need a bag to carry” it’s all about the logic of the hiker, he elaborated with examples, such as, going for a hike and start noticing dark clouds, lightning and a storm approaching; all what is needed to be done is simply head back to proper shelter. Another example was, in the event of having some kind of pain or ache or any other sort of discomfort, one cannot be stubborn and keep on walking. One should have some rest, if the discomfort continued, then going back and/or canceling the trip would be the wisest decision.
- A backpack: To carry all the needed tools & equipment.
- Water: Ideally, 2 L/day of water is required, the baseline minimum daily water need for survival is 32 Ounces equivalent to 0.94 L/day. But that alone varies from 1 to 2 Kilos of additional weight in the backpack. So, in cases when the designated area is well known to the hiker(s), and a potable water source is known to him/them, less quantities of water could be taken since they would be able to refill later during the hike. Yet, in the event of unknown areas, the hiker(s) should have enough water supply to sustain him/them, and most importantly, avoid drinking any water from uncertain sources. Disposable water filters may also be carried along in the backpacks.
- Food: High calorie foods, low in size/weight, such as nuts, chocolates, and energy bars should always be carried along. Berj highlighted on the need of repeated small quantity eating and water sipping during long hikes to maintain body hydrated and having enough energy.
- Map and compass: these two items are considered as one; separately those items are useless, they need to be used together to help find the way back in the event when the hiker got lost.
- First aid kit: a small compact first aid kit is enough to have during a hike, which is enough to relieve minor injuries.
- Pocketknife: a small pocketknife could save a life.
- A c: source of heat/fire for cooking might be needed in cases of a several days hike. One might get lost, so its important to carry more than one lighter, and it’s preferable to carry Magnesium Fire Starters, since they are waterproof.
- A Flashlight: Light is a sure need during night/darkness, so LED flashlights are the preferable type since it comes in small sizes, brighter in light and last the longest in comparison to other types.
- Raincoat/raingear: a plastic poncho won’t be heavy to carry and cheap in price, good enough to keep hikers from getting wet while raining, and it might be used as shelter or a traps in other cases.
- A whistle: when you are lost or out of route, shouting should be avoided, and instead blow a whistle. The whistle should not be used for fun, but as a rescue call only.
- Basic equipment:
- Secondary equipment
Berj mentioned other things a hiker might find helpful to carry, yet are not as important as lifesavers (like the basic equipment) yet can keep the hiker safer.
- A hat: for the protection of the head from direct sunlight.
- Sunglasses: for the protection of the eyes from direct sunlight, and better sight in some cases.
- Sunscreen: for skin protection from undesirable radiations.
- Towel paper: must keep away from moist, so a tight air bag should keep them dry.
- Trash bags: We must never leave a trace behind, so use a trash bag to carry back the litter. Sometimes trash bags come in handy, the hiker might find the need of using them as shelter or traps.
- Nylon cord/thin rope: it can come in handy when making a trap or fastening things together either for shelter, weapon or even buckling boots.
- A camping gas burner: to facilitate cooking and boiling water (sanitizing), it might be a bit heavy and occupy some space in the backpack.
- ID/license and cash money: who knows what can happen, a hiker might find himself in a nearby town. So keeping the ID and some money in dry safe place (airtight bags).
Lastly, Berj concluded his part by stressing on the list of the above-mentioned tools and equipment are needed for any hiker, whether a guide or a touring hiker. Additionally, given that hiking is all about walking, hikers should be well considerate about their footwear, and well equipped with the appropriate gears and/or garments.
Following Berj, was a short coffee break and traditional breakfast (Kfar Zabad’s traditional Manakeesh) was served. The breakfast was prepared by one of the local Manakeesh shops in the village.
After the breakfast, a very interesting video was displayed to participants, which was subsequently discussed by the training Coordinator Ms Vanessa Khaddage and Mr Andre Bechara. The Video is basically about outdoor ethics called “leave No Trace”, its technically what each individual should respect when in nature, whether for hiking or for leisure. Vanessa, made sure all the elements demonstrated in the video were well understood by all attendees, each element was written on the flip board and participants had to share the outcome they came up with from the video.
Below are the points concluded:
- Minimize potential impacts on land
- To have good judgment – it was related to Common sense in Berj section.
- Foot & “any things” trace, everything leaves trace even things we use in nature other than our footprints so even that should be considered and minimized, to avoid any interference with nature and natural habitats.
- Waste disposal, also was linked with Berj section where he mentioned the need of collecting litter and disposing them in the right place.
- Leave what you find, all nature’s elements should be left as is, nothing should be added to an environment nor anything should be removed from its original setting to maintain its right balance.
- Minimizing campfire impacts – the smaller the campfire the better, avoiding it is best. It was also linked to Berj section where it’s preferable to use the gas burner rather than building up a campfire.
- Respecting wildlife, by avoiding the disruption of their activities; when hiking or even during leisure the dynamics of nature should be respected, whether a running water stream or a striving bee hive. A common example was also used during the discussion, the ants’ hive/colony usually kids and even adults tend to destroy those colonies, which in turn is a major interruption of one of nature’s activities.
- Last idea was to be considerate of other visitors, whether humans or animals and wildlife. An association with a previous training workshop was done, regarding bird identification and bird watching, where hunting migrating birds acts as a major disturbance and disrespect to nature, to those visiting bird species, as well as the people living in the neighborhood.
During the Video session, Kfar Zabad’s Hima site manager Mr Kassem Shoker paid us a visit, as a welcoming and supporting notion to SPNL’s efforts.
Then started Mr Andre Beshara’s, who is SPNL’s Lead Ecotourism Coordinator and trainer. In this workshop Andre was more of a supervisor, overseeing the local guides’ contribution and ability to train others. Additionally, he took lead in a small presentation regarding Groups’ psychology & security.
Andre explained the significance of the guide’s responsibility in creating and maintaining a secure and comfortable environment for the touring groups, which is through ensuring the group feels:
- maximum secure conditions, and being aware of all potential risks
- The objective risks:
- Bad weather
- subjective risk
- The objective risks:
“Subjective risk are in the head – nothing you can see but can predict”
- group consistency; the members of the group are of similar physical capabilities and managable/correct number of indivdual in the group, based on the hiking type.
- Well Aware and at ease; through conducting the briefing and priory informing them about the potential route difficulties they might encounter, the expected walking time & distance, introducing them on the cultural, environmental, traditional aspects of the area, ect.. Additionally, it would be a right time to check if all required equipment are available, if the carrying capacity of the individual allows them to carry the equipment, if all boots and footwear are laced, and so on. Thus putting participants at ease.
- Enthusiasm of guide; by provoking an appropriate hiking atmosphere through motivating the group, with a friendly start/introduction, then assisting communication within the group, and maintain the group at harmony and with a positive drive.
- Keenness of the guide; the guide must have teaching skills to be able to properly convey his experience and technical knowledge, and most importantly to have patience, selfcontrol, good sence of humor, and the ability to build up / create a team spirit.
- Finally Andre explained ERA (Emotion-Reaction-Action), which is the primary behaviour towards any unexpected event, which in turn is essetial to control during emergencies.
- Emotion: it is crucial to control emotions, when facing an accident; guide should prevent the spread of panic throughout the group.
- Reaction: react as responsible as possible to the situation, and make the group feel that the situation is under control.
- Action: the guide should act quickly but without rush and manage the accident professionally based on the situation and circumstances. (Protect, alert, rescue, etc.…)
After Andre’s section, lunch was supposed to be served but due to some delay, the following session was conducted directly, meanwhile lunch arrived.
Therefore, Mr Jean Banboukian, a local Farmer and SPNL’s focal point in Anjar, started with his part. Jean explained how to receive a group, and all the steps prior to it including the initial communications that happens beforehand to collect information such as, dates and timings of the visits, the meeting area/location, the number of people expected to join for the tour/hike, if any of the participating individuals have any kind of allergies or special needs, in case of emergencies who to contact, etc.
Further to those points Jean discussed the coordination with the visiting team and how to go along or deal with people whom a guide doesn’t even know, and with situations that might occur during guiding/tour. Jean shared an interesting experience he himself has confronted as a guide. It happened a few years back, where he was with a group of school children ranging from 7 to 11 years old, where they encountered a herd of sheep and 5 shepherding dogs. The dogs attacked Jean and his group, to protect their sheep, with limited space to move or escape, Jean had to stand alone and still in front of those barking dogs to prevent any harm to the children. Jean stood there for more than 5 minutes struggling to scare the dogs away, but he finally managed and no one was hurt that time. The Moral of this experience, Jean elaborated was that it would have been better if he had an extra guide with him to help with the situation, if he had properly estimated the number of people in the group which actually required an extra guide. Additionally being a guide requires a lot of responsibility and ability to face unforeseen events without any hesitation as long as others are depending on the guide. The attendees reacted with Jean experience telling and asked specific questions regarding the incident. Finally Jean ended his part with a bit of details regarding the appearance of the guide and how should they be when with a touring group.
A bit delayed but a traditional home made lunch by Kfar Zabad’s Locals was served right before Mr Sami Abou Rjeily’s presentation; a local farmer and guide, a volunteer and focal point of SPNL for the past 12 years, in Kfar Zabad, takes lead and explains the relationship between the Hima and Farming. Sami starts with a ground rule, stating that the guides should love their work and their region. They must have sufficient knowledge of all the information related to Al Hima and its neighboring Farm Lands. Sami also explained, that Al Hima Guide should highlight to the visitors Al Hima’s benefits towards Farming, for example: By its existence, Al Hima shall help protect the Birds which eventually will increase in number. As they increase, more Birds will feed on the harmful insects eating out from the neighboring plantations thus decreasing the costs paid by the farmer on pesticides. In addition, the Guide shall state to the visitors the pros and cons of the neighboring farms towards Al Hima.
To do this, a successful Guide shall possess the following attributes:
- The Guide should be a Local fellow of the village,
- The Guide must know all information related to Al Hima and well prepared to answer any visitor’s inquiry.
- The Guide should maintain a proper and positive relationship with the Locals built on mutual trust.
- The Guide has to arrange with the farmers regarding any visit or walk-through ahead of schedule so as to allow the visitors to participate/ assist the farmers at work and taste their products.
- The Guide shall select the proper route based on the visitors’ age group and technical background.
- The Guide shall be aware of the discussion’s type and technical level among different visitor’s categories (such as: Schools, Universities, Experts, etc.…)
Afterwards a quick short walk around Hima Kfar Zabad was conducted to introduce the participants on the surroundings, and instructors acted like guides and delivered the real experience to reinforce what they have lectured troughout the day.
The walk was cut shorter than planed since participants felt that they have been kept for a long time and signs of frustration was visible on their faces.
The training was quite long and too much theoretical data / lecturing was done on the day rather than practical and interpretive. The workshop should have been done mostly in field rather than in the visitors’ center so that participants could have “rehearsed” what they have learned during the learning sessions.
Comments and Quotes from Participants
The training was fully covered with professional photography; some images attached in annex 3, as well as video recording. During the training, many of the participants were asked about their experience and opinion about the training; below are segments of what they have said:
Mona Chahla, collage student from Kfar Zabad: “ I personally love nature, I’m one of those who tries to conserve it, these types of trainings are on my concern, especially that we are learning the ways to conserve nature and value it. Today’s training was very interesting, we are being taught on how to welcome visitors and tourists and introduce them to our environment, the significance of human negative impacts and how to avoid them, to respect each and every element of nature…”
Rayan Shoker, College student, and one of the persisting trainees, from Kfar Zabad: “ today was about Guiding, and how to be an effective and responsible local guide … we learned about the detailed tools and equipment that a guide/hiker should have. I have taken such trainings before, but I believe such details are critical to be aware of so one can keep himself and his group safe… Personally I think I would be doing such activities, but in low risk areas such as this wetland (Hima Kfar Zabad). “
Karnie Kendirjian, College student majoring in economics, from Anjar: “since childhood I love nature especially that I was born in Anjar, which consists of widespread grasslands and farming areas, so we’ve been raised up to cherish this land as a fortune… we should all be well aware of how to conserve this nature… as for today’s training, it introduced us on how to be responsible local guides, in other trainings we’ve learned canoeing, how to take care of birds, how to hike… I’m a leader in scout so I know how to lead, however today I learned lots of new things like how to lead a group of people we don’t know its members”
Mr Jean Banboukian, a local Farmer and SPNL’s focal point/trainer from Anjar: “in the trainings we are focusing on how to conserve this environmental fortune in Anjar & Kfar Zabad… the participants are getting more involved and contributing with their own ideas to maintain and conserve this nature in the future… today it was noticeable that we have a bright future in regards to the environment, and if we manage to continue on this pace we shall have very pleasant results…”
Mr Sami Abou Rjeily; a local farmer and guide/trainer, a volunteer and focal point of SPNL for the past 12 years, from Kfar Zabad: “ todays activity was aimed to train the local youth from both villages Anjar and Kfar Zabad on how to become local guides in the near future, we are trying to provide them with all the needed information and details which they will have to convey to touring groups. Five individuals lectured today each within his field of expertise, one was for environment, for guiding, for hiking, for nature and farming… all skills are being communicated to participants, for them to deliver/apply eventually as guides”
Berj Tumberian, SPNL member, Local Guide and manager of Hima Anjar: “ I felt that many of the participants knew a lot about hiking and the needed equipment, but on the other hand they were also astonished that there was so many details they were not aware of… all seemed very interested in the presentation and took the session quit seriously…”
To finish, the training went well we had some time constrains where we failed to practice the theoretical information. Participants are showing interest training after training, and the presented concept is being taken more seriously training after training. More efforts and nonconventional coaching tools should be developed, and timings should be better planned.
Annex 1: Schedule
Title of workshop: Landscape & Hima Training (schedule in Annex – 1)
Number of persons attending: 27 participants (Annex – 2)
Workshop Coordinator/facilitator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Dalia Al-Jawhary – Hima Programs Director (SPNL), Shalimar Sinno – Landscape expert (SPNL)
Objectives of workshop:
- Comprehend all elements of Al Hima
- Understand and identify the community’s surrounding environment
- Assess the existing components of a landscape, and highlight the needed components for improvement
- Identify characteristics and threats of the land
- Develop a landscape design
On Saturday April 9, 2016, the Landscape & Hima training workshop was conducted in Anjar at the Souk Al Hima women’s atelier, in the presence of both communities from Anjar & Kfar Zabad, The EU representatives Ms. Natalie Chemaly (Consultant), and Mr. Gianandrea Villa. Additionally, we were pleasured with a high attendance of many of the Women representing the Armenian Relief Cross of Anjar ”LOKH”, all summed up to 27 Participants.
A welcoming and supportive speech was given by Anjar’s Mayor, highlighting the support of the Anjar municipality and Armenian community to all development initiatives in the village. The mayor expressed his appreciation for the EU project support & highlighted that the Armenian community will assure its sustainability. He also elaborated on the unique partnership with SPNL, who introduced the development initiatives in Anjar. The opening was continued by a welcome speech for Dalia Al Jawhary from SPNL, who highlighted the importance of community empowerment taking place under the project. Also Mr. Villa from EU was invited to say a speech, where he expressed being delighted to join the training and his satisfaction about the level of participation & EU support for local communities, especially youth. The workshop continued with the first session on the Hima concept provided by Miss Dalia Al Jawhary, whom in turn initiated a participatory approach through an open discussion and interpretation with the participants. The session aimed to teach participants about the Hima approach and to ensure the concept was well understood by everyone. Most participants were active and participated with questions such as “What do you know about Al Hima? What’s Hima? What’s sustainable and what’s not? Etc.…”
During this session Dalia clarified the collaboration between the Hima & sustainable use of natural resources where she shared sustainability question linking Hima to the enhancement of livelihoods and improvement of natural resources. This was addressed through three sustainability questions where participants had to answer through displayed pictures on different livelihood practices where communities had to evaluate based on the sustainability question and state ways of improving “if improvement is needed”. At the end of this session participants were able to understand that Hima is about “sustaining the well-being of Nature & People” where people are a core of it. This matter was not clear before the session where participants perceived Hima as nature conservation only. Following Ms. Dalia’s interactive presentation (Annex 3) a short coffee break was served including Armenian desserts prepared by the local women of Anjar.
Following Ms. Shalimar, who is a landscape professional, working at SPNL, took lead with her PowerPoint presentation (Annex 4) followed by two outdoor/practical activities as detailed below.
The landscape section started as well with interactive activities and questions and answers. A noteworthy participation and teamwork was observed from all the trainees. The first learning outcome regarding landscape character assessment was achieved during the first outdoor activity at Anjars’ Wetland (Annex 5). The participants were split in groups of 5 each, where they studied the different locations of the wetland. Each individual in each group filled up the character assessment form provided to them (Annex 5) and completed their forms based on their own perspective of their surroundings. After all the data was collected, participants went back to the atelier to move to the second learning outcome which was assessing and stating the existing, identifying the missing and the needs, based on which they shall develop a management plan for their respective areas. All participants were provided with the required material to do the activity. Many came up with interesting points for area improvement. Afterwards, and after this activity was conducted the teams moved to Kfar Zabad so that participants could see the end result of a previously implemented plan, and try to visualize a new plan based on the landscape techniques they have learned.
Comments and Quotes from Participants
The training was fully covered with professional photography; some images attached in annex 6, as well as video recording.
Below are some of the participants’ feedbacks:
- Jean Banbaukian; Anjar focal Point: “… This training felt of more importance to the trainees especially that the topic is of attraction to both girls and boys, unlike other activities that could be a bit rough for girls to like… ”
- Lama Shoker; Agricultural engineering student from Kfar Zabad: “ everything was good, we practiced with the trainers how to develop a plan based on landscape design, and we showcased it. Such projects I would love to execute it!”
- Hagop Ayvazian; High school student from Anjar: “it was a fun experience, I learned many new things and the instructors, Vanessa and Shalimar were very friendly…. The training was satisfying and significant, it doesn’t need changes.”
- Meghety Topalian, High school student from Anjar: “I really enjoyed the training!”
- Zella Ayvazian; Middle school student from Anjar: “ I really enjoyed it, it was fun…”
- Villa from EU” I am satisfied about the level of youth participation, the knowledge they have about natural resources & the participatory approach used”
Summing up, the training was held successfully, with major improvement in the method of data delivery and better identification of committed volunteers/staff. This was achieved through visual observations while participants were applying what they have learned during the practical trainings. Participants showed added interest in future workshops. Additionally, women were involved successfully through the participation of the members of Armenian Relief Cross in Anjar and their provision of traditional food (coffee break, breakfast & lunch) during the training day.
Annex 1: Schedule
Day 1: Sat. April.9.2016
|10:00 – 10:30||Welcome at the Women Center and Speeches by Municipality of Anjar/ Women Group/ SPNL|
|10:30 – 11:00||Introduction of the Hima Approach||Dalia Jawhary|
|11:00 – 11:15||Coffee Break|
|11:15 – 11:30||Importance of the Landscape Training to the community|
|11:30 – 12:00||1- What is Landscape?
2- Landscape and Hima
3- Landscape Character Assessment
4- Group Discussion
|12:00 – 12:30||Implementation – Field Work||Shalimar Sinno|
|12:30 – 2:00||Lunch Break|
|2:00 – 2:30||Welcome at the Homat Al Hima Center in Kfar Zabad and Speech by Municipality of Kfar Zabad|
|2:30 – 2:45||What is Landscape Design?||Shalimar Sinno|
|2:45 – 3:45||Implementation of Landscape Design Group work||Shalimar Sinno|
Title of workshop: Social Media, Business Planning, & Event Management Training Workshop (schedule in Annex – 1)
Number of persons attending: 16 participants (Annex – 2)
Workshop Coordinator/facilitator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Bassam Kantar; Managing Editor at GreenArea.me, Reporter at LBCI Lebanon, and Environmental Consultant at Beyond Magazine.
Malek Ghanem; Sales & Marketing Consultant at Gosawa – Lebanon
Objectives of workshop:
- Understand the difference between different types of Social Media Tools
- Know the trends, techniques, and Insights of the Social Media Tools
- Understand the need of the use of significant Contents in Social Media
- Develop a public Facebook Page for Homat Al Hima
- Know the main features of a Business Plan
- Apprehend the requirements of a strategic Plan
- Draft a simple and focused business plan – Use of respective Hima sites
- Differentiate between event types
- Know what questions to ask when planning for and starting an event
- Ability to develop an event framework
- Identify working committees and assigning responsibilities
- Know what and when to do prior, during and after the event
On Saturday May 14, 2016, the Social Media, Business Planning, & Event Management Training Workshop was conducted in Anjar, at the Woman’s Atelier. 16 participants attended the workshop from the local communities of Anjar and Kfar Zabad as well as representatives from Hima El Fekha (North Bekaa) and Ain Zebde (West Bekaa). Including professional photographers. (Annex -6)
The workshop was initiated with a welcoming note by SPNL’s Training coordinator Ms. Vanessa Khaddage; additionally Vanessa laid additional emphasis on the need of commitment to the ongoing program, and the significance of adopting responsibilities as the Homat al Hima club volunteers or staff, based on the already conducted trainings, and as per the volunteers field of interests.
Following the opening, Mr. Bassam Kantar – the Managing Editor for GreenArea.me, Reporter at LBCI Lebanon, and Environmental Consultant at Beyond Magazine, started with a quick ice-breaking activity by asking participants to introduce themselves, their backgrounds and describe their knowledge and experience with social media. Participants, as per Bassam’s judgment, had no to minimal knowledge about the actual uses and benefits of social media, in addition to many misconceptions about contents shared with such tools. Bassam continued with introducing the general Social Media tools, namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Snap Chat, Flicker, etc. He stated that the movement toward social media tools first started during 2005 as an internal networking between specific /closed group of people, as for today it’s a worldwide network with no limitations, and an industry worth billions of dollars. He continued by clarifying that anyone could be a social media expert, without any actual technical expertise in the field, as long as an individual understands their needs from the social media tool they are using and the usage of trending tool that is mostly followed. He gave an example about Lebanon, where Facebook and YouTube, uphold the highest percentage of usage, if compared with those who use the internet, thus, in that case it would be best to use those tools to reach the desired audience. A question was posed by one of the attendees, regarding the missing aspects in Facebook, that twitter managed to cover. Bassam explained, that twitter has featured a limited permissible number of characteristics /words for each tweet making the news or event sharing brief and direct to the point. Bassam also pointed out the absence of geographical and timing limitation for promoting any of the desired material through social media. He explained as an example that The Hima or Homat Al Hima page, as managing a page or perusing a cause doesn’t require the physical presence of an individual, as much as it needs persistence and constant presence with reliable and interesting data to relevant audience. He emphasized on the need to choose the right content and follow certain rules when dealing with marketing or promotions, such as the 80 / 20 rule where only 20% of the social media content being shared should be about the topic of interest / brand being promoted, as for the remaining 80% of the content it should be dedicated to sharable and audience appealing news for them to enjoy. Bassam made sure to convey the definition of “relevant / target audience”, as those of geographical relevance and proper age groups, who are able to react with or to shared data, since a successful post is about the quality and not the quantity, he elaborated by using an example, where a Facebook page regarding the Lebanese Hima Sites has 1 million followers from China, Australia, and India; the audience has no real interest or active reactions towards the topic, thus meeting no objective from having the page or sharing contents; where as having 500 followers from Lebanon and the Arab regions, will create better involvement and reactions from the audience. So, more isn’t better on social media. It’s all about matching audiences to the right content. Social Media tools when used to deliver the relevant information are the conduits. They help target the audience needed with relevant content that triggers a sense of value and leads them to an emotional connection. When connecting with them personally, the content becomes unforgettable, no matter what Social media tool is being used, Bassam explained.
Finally, Bassam moved to the second half of the training, which was creating a shared page for Homat Al Hima, where many of the attendees were assigned as page editors and were given responsibility for activating the page and providing relevant data through provided data. Before the creation of the page , Bassam showed the participants the social media tools that SPNL has been using, after that he went through the steps for developing the page with the attendees. The page is now active on the following Facebook Web Address: www.facebook.com/halhima
Following Bassam’s session, a coffee break and a locally made Armenian breakfast was served. After the break Malek Ghanem, Sales & Marketing Consultant at Gosawa, provided his presentation “A simple but effective Business Plan” (Annex – 3).
Malek started by discussing S.W.O.T. = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats; the four elements that should be identified before starting any BP Malek explained. Participants were then asked to participate in applying the SWOT analysis for their respective Hima sites; below are the obtained answers,
- Ecologically rare
- Inhabits globally endangered bird species
- Beautiful scenery
- Traditional notion
- Lack of financial resources
- Lack of public awareness of its ecological significance
- Tragedy of the commons
- Its rehabilitation and conservation is linked with running political issues
- Haphazard hunting
- Surrounded by local communities that could assist with its conservation
- Overseen by Local NGO – SPNL
- Attracts international consideration given its ecological wealth and scarcity
- Eligibility for international funds being of such ecological significance and habitat globally endangered species.
- Ongoing instability of national security
- Political interference
- Water scarcity – decreasing annual rainfall plus snowfall range
- Water contamination due to haphazard waste and wastewater dumping
Next, Malek proceeded with how to Draft a Business Plan (BP) using a participatory approach, and asked participants to write on a piece of paper and start developing their BP by answering the following section:
- Vision of organization (or whatever your plan is)
- Future Goals
- Clients, Users, Target market
- Edge of you / your team / company
- Barriers to achieve the target
- Better serve clients. How??
- Ad more to target. Possible??
- Adding new customers / users / target market share
- Starting of the plan dates
Participants were split into four groups, each group representing their Hima Sites, namely, Hima Anjar, Hima Kfar Zabad, Hima El Fekha, Hima Ain Zebde. Participants were left for a while to brainstorm; meanwhile Malek and Vanessa assisted them to develop their BPs. Most participants faced some challenges with choosing a precise project/activity. Most of them started with broad titles, for example ecotourism project, or ecofriendly project, etc.… participants as well couldn’t differentiation between visions and goals at the beginning. It was made clear to them as Malek and Vanessa individually assisted each team to develop an initial draft for plans they aspire at their respective sites. Copies of the Developed BP are attached in (Annex – 4).
By the time all participants finished drafting their BPs and comprehending all its elements, lunch purchased from the local women in Anjar was served, followed by a short break.
Afterwards, Malek carried on with the Event Management Presentation (Annex – 5). He explaining what an event is and what are the types of events that could be conducted i.e.; fund raising, Conferences, festivals or special presentation over a series of days. He continued by explaining the steps needed to be accomplished during each stage of event planning, and what series of questions to answer during each stage.
Malek highlighted on the need to develop a comprehensive framework, to track all aspects of the event, including team members, needed services, what needs to prioritize, and who to contact and when. He continued by detailing the responsibilities of each group/individual; he called them committees, in the assigned team, such as an Advisory Committee, Entertainment and Publicity Committee and Food and Decorations Committee, etc.… last but not least, he elaborated to-do’s and specific actions needed to be taken week after week till the day of the event, as well what is needed to be done during and after the event was conveyed to the participants. Afterwards the previously mentioned groups were asked to brainstorm again for the launching event /fundraising for the business they have planned for in the prior session. Consequently, a representative from each group was asked to share with everybody what and how will they conduct their events based on the steps provided during the presentation. Participants from Kfar Zabad & Anjar were only present for this exercise, since representative from El Fekha, and Ain Zebde had to leave during lunch.
Objectively, the training went well, and all intended learning outcomes and workshop objectives were met, as observed during the exercises. Yet the evaluation reflected on many areas of improvement, which pose some challenges, given that some topics and capacity building material, as in the case of this workshop, highlighting major constrains to indoor presentation, participatory approach, and group discussions.
Annex 1: Schedule
Title of workshop: Water & Sustainable agriculture Training workshop (Schedule in Annex – 1)
Number of persons attending: 11 participants (Annex – 2)
Workshop Coordinator/facilitator: Vanessa Khaddage
Workshop Presenter / Trainer: Hovig Atamian and Zaynab Rady – AUB Students, Trainee program, Elias Ghadban and Elias Arja- Agriculture and Livelihood Experts.
Objectives of workshop:
- Know the importance of water
- Know the importance of water use and conservation
- Know about sustainable wetland management
- Learn basic information about the methods and equipment of water and soil monitoring
- Comprehend the concept of sustainable development
- Learn the general concept and practices about sustainable agriculture
- Learn about organic farming and integrated pest management
On Saturday June 4th, 2016, Water & Sustainable agriculture Training workshop was conducted in al Hima center located in the village of Kfar Zabad, with the attendance of 11 participants from the local communities of Anjar and Kfar Zabad, unfortunately attendance was relatively low this time, due to other obligations (Scholar examinations) of the majority of the consistent participants. As usual, professional photographers were also present. (Annex – 3)
The workshop started with a presentation about water use and conservation (Annex 4) by Hovig Atamian, aided by Ms. Zaynab Rady– Students, AUB Training Program. He explained the importance of water in life and presented the different methods of water conservation. After explaining the importance of water in daily life, he represented the major sectors where major water wastage is observed. Atamian mentioned that the greatest amount of water is wasted in agriculture due to the traditional methods of irrigation used till now. He also mentioned about some challenges facing the water sector such as Population growth, Socio-economic development, industrial activities, Agricultural activities, uncontrolled urbanization and Ineffective sectorial management, Lack of appropriate legislation and Lack of awareness. Hovig Atamian also talked about some stress factors concerning the water wastage and water conservation, he elaborated each of the climatic factors, factors related to human activities and some other factors such as soil erosion, forest fires and phytopathology. After explaining the factors, the presenter explained some methods of water conservation in the agricultural sector such as getting rid of traditional ways of irrigation and implementing new irrigation methods for example drip irrigation and spray irrigation. At household level he recommended some conservation methods such as fixing the leaking pipes and taking short 4-minutes showers. It is good to note that at the beginning of the presentation the participants were not participating well, but afterwards the training coordinator Vanessa Khaddage intervened and the participation rate increased. In his presentation, Hovig Atamian also talked about Wetland conservation, the methods he discussed were the “hands-off” approach, maintaining greenbelts and buffer zones, fencing and management of storm water runoffs, fertilizers and pesticides. At the end of the presentation Hovig Atamian represented in a brief way the importance of the Aanjar/Kfar Zabad wetland.
Following Hovig was a short coffee break and traditional breakfast (Kfar Zabad’s traditional Lahme b’ajin) was served. Afterwards Berj Tumberian did a presentation about water and soil monitoring (Annex 5), at the beginning of his presentation Berj started to introduce the factors that must be measured in basic monitoring such as pH, Electric Conductivity and Dissolved Oxygen. He explained the causes that make the pH of the water vary, and then he explained the relation between the electric conductivity and TDS (total dissolved solids). Berj also talked about the effect of the variance in the levels of these factors on the aquatic life, he also noted about the source of the DO and the electric conductivity. After finishing the part for the water monitoring he started to explain about the importance of soil monitoring in sustainable agriculture and he discussed about a basic method for soil monitoring, he explained how to take a composite sample, dissolve it in distilled water and measure the parameters after filtering it.
Next, Dr. Elias Ghadban started his presentation about sustainable agriculture (Annex 6) and how the concept of sustainable development was initiated. He explained why the concept of sustainable development was started respectively after the traditional agriculture and the green revolution. Sustainable development was originated in 1970 to meet people’s needs with respect to social, economic, and environmental aspects. He mentioned that sustainable agriculture is a must to reach the sustainable development where people have to know how important the IBA is. In addition, sustainable agriculture aims to increase biodiversity, recycling agricultural waste, protect the soil from erosion, water conservation and protection, integration of animals and plants into a single system. He also added that sustainable agriculture provide sustainable production, reduce environmental cost and rely on alternative technologies.
Elias explained in details the challenges that hinder the achievement of sustainable development such as population growth, political issues, mechanization, and finance. Then, he started explaining how population growth hinders the accomplishment of sustainable development where the increase of population drives people to disregard the value of such green spaces that are destroyed for recreational and aesthetic purposes. Sometimes, political process might prevent sustainable development to be achieved since the import practice prevents native products to be sold locally. To add, mechanization leads to unemployment that deprives people from getting a job opportunity. Such people will be unable to participate in achieving the sustainable development due to the lack of employment caused by the excessive use of machinery. Furthermore, the sustainable agriculture is hindered by farmers who look for increasing their productivity to gain money even though this is considered as a menace to the environment. He then clarified that if natural resources such as soil, nutrients and water are used up at a rate faster than they are replenished, then the farming system is unsustainable. Farmers will adopt systems that maintain or enhance natural resource base only if these also provide a living for themselves and their families. Therefore, economic and social issues, as well as the productivity of the land and the broader health of the environment, have to be considered when working towards sustainable agriculture. Afterwards, he clarified his point of view about the definition of sustainable agriculture through the metaphor of a 3-legged stool. If one of the legs breaks, the whole stool will fall over. This metaphor tells us sustainable agriculture has to address three major areas: economics, the environment, and social factors or community. Later, Dr. Elias said that profitable economics, healthy environment, and vital communities are all goals. They are what we are trying to achieve. Practices are actions we take to achieve those goals. Why don’t we define sustainable agriculture in terms of practices? There are two important reasons: First, we expect that our knowledge will increase in the future, so practices used now may not be considered the best practices ten years from now. Second, the effect of a practice can vary enormously depending on how and where it is performed. For example, plowing on a steep hillside is unsustainable because it causes too much soil erosion. However, occasional plowing on level ground can be a sustainable tool for some cropping systems.
Next, he explained that such systems have tended to avoid the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. These substances are rejected on the basis of their dependence on non-renewable resources, disruption potential within the environment, and their potential impacts on wildlife, livestock and human health. For example, synthetically compounded fertilizers and pesticides generally suppress biological activity in the soil. Some growth regulators and feed additives are implicated in retarding the decomposition of manure and are potential human health hazards. Instead, sustainable agriculture systems rely on crop rotations crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, appropriate mechanical cultivation, and mineral bearing rocks to maximize soil biological activity, and to maintain soil fertility and productivity. Natural, biological, and cultural controls are used to manage pests, weeds and diseases. Many of the approaches in conventional agriculture (minimum tillage, chemical banding) would fall into the “efficiency” category. They demonstrate a reduction in resource use and associated negative environmental impact, and in many cases a reduction in input expenses for the farmer. They represent, however, only an initial step towards a truly sustainable system.
In terms of increasing the biodiversity, he explained that diversified farms are usually more economically and ecologically resilient. While monoculture farming has advantages in terms of efficiency and ease of management, the loss of the crop in any one year could put a farm out of business and/or seriously disrupt the stability of a community dependent on that crop. By growing a variety of crops, farmers spread economic risk and are less susceptible to the radical price fluctuations associated with changes in supply and demand. Optimum diversity may be obtained by integrating both crops and livestock in the same farming operation.
Following this session was a short break and traditional lunch (Kfar Zabad’s traditional tawook and shawarma) was served, after which Elias Arja presented his topic about organic farming and integrated pest management as practices of sustainable agriculture (Annex 7). As Dr. Ghadban explained one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is the need to feed a growing population while improving the productive capacity of agricultural ecosystems, the health, and the integrity of surrounding environment for future generations. So Elias Arja tackled both organic farming and integrated pest management as methods that can work together to address this vital challenge. Arja also explained that organic farming is a method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. Vegetable and livestock production using natural sources of nutrients (such as compost, crop residues, and manure) and natural methods of crop and weed control, instead of using synthetic or inorganic agrochemicals, also called low input farming. Afterwards, he mentioned the key benefits of organic agriculture such fewer adverse environmental impacts, fewer pesticides residues on food products, and documented improvement in nutritional quality in dairy, some fruits, and vegetables. However, there are some limitations like low yield, which means low income, as well as, putting restrictions on pesticides and fertilizers inputs. Subsequently, he presented the four principles of sustainable agriculture that are roots from which organic agriculture grows and develops. They express the contribution that organic agriculture can make to the world as following:
- Principle of ecology
- Principle of health
- Principle of care
- Principle of fairness
Next, Elias Arja explained the meaning behind integrated pest management, or IPM, which is a process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. IPM can be used to manage all kinds of pests anywhere—in urban, agricultural, and wild land or natural areas. He clarified Integrated Pest Management or IPM concept, as it is commonly known, is a system of managing pests, which is designed to be sustainable. IPM involves using the best combination of cultural, biological and chemical measures for particular circumstances, including plant biotechnology as appropriate. This provides the most cost effective, environmentally sound and socially acceptable method of managing diseases, insects, weeds and other pests in agriculture. Afterwards, Arja explained the importance of IPM to coordinate the use of pest biology, environmental information, and available technology in order to control the levels of pest and to minimize danger to people, property, resources, and the environment.
Next, Dr. Elias Ghadban explained his presentation about sustainable wetlands management. He clarified to the audience that wetlands are fragile and vulnerable ecosystems. Accordingly, it is necessary to avoid the loss of these vital water bodies from industrial processes and intensive agricultural practices. Dr. Elias presented the key component, which is setting clear steps on the preparation of a management plan for wetlands, through an inclusive participatory process involving local communities as well as the many stakeholders whose active support is vital to the successful adoption and implementation of the plan. Participants, through teamwork activities should prepare a sustainable development plan for Hima in Kfar-Zabad. How this plan should respect economic, environmental and social aspects in order to be successful. In addition, Dr. Elias presented to the audience the importance of the stakeholders in the management plan such as Homat Alhima, NGO, and local communities. He explained that in order to provide sustainable development for Hima, strategic plans are essential to serve in achieving the goals and objectives. It is a must to communicate with all units and departments to ensure proper implementation.
Conclusively, the training day went well and as planned, lamentably not much attendance was obtained, which lead to some deviation from the planned schedule. Yet attendees were able to relate between the importance of water and water use and conservation, simple methods to conserve wetlands and avoid common types of contamination of the water bodies and soil, in addition to available monitoring techniques. Moreover, the concept of sustainability was made very clear, where they would be able to somehow merge it with any management plan, especially in agriculture, and farming techniques such as organic farming and integrated pest management.
Annex 1: Schedule