The Society for protection of Nature in Lebanon is grieving the loss of some of its most prominent partners after the top leaders of A Rocha International—cofounders Peter and Miranda Harris and CEO Chris Naylor and his wife Susanna—suffered a fatal car crash on Monday.
“SPNL mourns the loss of great partners that helped in protecting the environment of our beloved country and in highlighting the importance of our biodiversity and Hima approach”. Said Assad Serhal, SPNL Director General.
Miranda Harris and the Naylors were killed when their car flipped over a bridge into a river in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, according to news reports. Peter Harris and the driver remain in stable condition. The team was visiting South Africa in connection with A Rocha.
“We know that this comes as a profound shock to everyone in the A Rocha Family and others all around the world,” the UK-based conservation organization stated.
The Harrises founded A Rocha over 35 years ago and have been credited with spreading the creation care movement around the globe. Chris Naylor joined in 1997, overseeing their conservation work in Lebanon, and has been executive director since 2010.
Chris Naylor established A Rocha’s work in Lebanon, after years serving in the Middle East alongside his wife Susanna. In 2015, he wrote Postcards from the Middle East: How Our Family Fell in Love With the Arab World.
“I felt a call to write the gospel in the landscape, to recognize that our fantastic God loves this place, just like he loves the individuals around it,” said Chris Naylor, who was 58 when he died. Susanna Naylor, who was 54, had also been involved with A Rocha in Lebanon and set up an eco lodge there.
SPNL and A Rocha Lebanon implemented a three years survey funded by the MAVA Foundation. The aim was to identify new Important Birds Areas (IBAs) in Lebanon and advocate their conservation, and to carry out an ornithological research program for potential IBAs in Lebanon, and to advocate the conservation of new IBAs. In addition to design and run workshops for guides, rangers, and local people on bird identification, site management and conservation, and ecotourism opportunities.
In addition to the 4 sites declared in 1994, 11 new sites have been identified and declared by BirdLife International as IBAs in Lebanon.