Stacie & Ghiwa working in the field © FON

How women are leading nature conservation in Lebanon

By Dima Obeidat

History has always shown us that there is nothing more powerful than a group of women determined to achieve a goal. Nowadays, there are women everywhere doing incredible work for the world at large: especially women in conservation, who are harnessing their force to protect nature and our future.

Despite the fact that women are significantly under-represented in conservation leadership positions in the Middle East, a group of Lebanese women from Friends of Nature (FON) has managed to shine through with many inspiring accomplishments in nature conservation. This female-led organisation aims to preserve natural resources in Lebanon in order to foster lasting, sustainable development. To that end, FON was granted funding from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF) to support their project, which aims to protect Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve’s beautiful diversity of plants.

Group of Volunteers with FON Team © FON
Group of Volunteers with FON Team © FON

On meeting Myrna Semman – Project Coordinator and Plant Ecologist of FON – last year, it was very clear that she was a force not only for conservation in Lebanon, but for every young woman who dared to dream of a greener future – at least according to the young women in her project team, who also used to be her students.

“Conservation is a life-long calling to help living things fulfill their evolutionary potential. But we cannot truly evaluate the real state of living things without visiting them in their natural habitats and observing them closely in their own ecosystems. Fieldwork is imperative to the formulation of any vision to help nature,” Myrna says.

Her passion for her work is evident in her words. “Fieldwork certainly requires a set of personal skills such as a good sense of direction and quick but rational responses, to say the least. Experience sharpens such skills, which are vital when you are responsible for a team on the field,” Myrna says. “Fieldwork is a world by itself and women have what it takes. I have worked out in the field for decades; I have met some amazing people and seen incredible wildlife, all embracing the gift of life through good and through bad. I advise professional women to engage, the enjoyment is overwhelming!”, she added.

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