The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) participated in the activities of the European Heritage Day in Paris on the 20th and 21st of September 2014 in the municipality building of the 9th district in Paris. This event took place in collaboration with the LPO, Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, and the support of the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality.
Mr. Assad Serhal, Director General of SPNL, Miss Shalimar Sinno, Project Coordinator of the Grazing program at SPNL, and SPNL’s Delegate in France Mrs. Andrée Vérès attended the event representing SPNL.
Mr. Serhal expressed his gratitude to all those who supported the involvement of SPNL in this event, in particular the President of the Society for the Protection of birds in France (LPO), Mayor of the 9th district in Paris Mrs. Delphine Bürkli and Deputy Mayor and Commissioner Mr. Sébastien Dulermo and SPNL’s Delegate in France Mrs. Andrée Vérès.
Mr. Serhal added that SPNL is Birdlife International Partner in Lebanon, in collaboration with the local and international partners, local municipalities, and local communities have succeeded in the revival of the Hima concept in many areas around Lebanon such as, Ebel Saqi, Kfar Zabad, Anjar, Mansouri, Qoleileh, Andaket, El Fekha, and Hermel. SPNL has been reviving this traditional approach to match the needs of the present societies for sustainable development. The transfer of this approach to Paris is an important opportunity that coincides with the European Heritage Day and will be replicated in the future.
Furthermore, this two day annual event gathers millions of visitors and tourists from around the world that visit museums, palaces, and governmental buildings. SPNL, being the partner of the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture funded by MAVA foundation, has helped in having “On the Move” exhibition in Paris on that day. “On the Move” is an exhibition that wanders in several Arab and European cities, including Tunisia, Paris, Geneva, Istanbul, Athens and Beirut. In collaboration with DiversEarth and WWF Tunisia, 60 photographs of a number of professional photographers, including the Lebanese Mr. Assad Saleh, who was accompanied by the shepherds in their travels in Nature in collaboration with SPNL with the aim of reviving the transhumance system linked to local development, biodiversity and eco-tourism.
SPNL also had the chance to display handicrafts linked to the Lebanese Heritage made by women from the Hima areas in Lebanon. Carpet weaving was one of the skills specific to Al-Fakiha that was highlighted with the aim of economic empowerment and achieving gender equality. The women empowerment is part of the project entitled “Promoting Hima Women Empowerment for Conservation and Livelihood” funded by UN Women Fund for Gender Equality. Thus, this event has given more exposure for the women and their products not only on local level but on the international level. The event has opened doors to future opportunities for empowering women, marketing their products, enhancing their livelihoods, yet highlighting on the Lebanese culture and nature.
The exhibition included an overview of environmental, agricultural and educational projects implemented by SPNL in regions of Lebanon in order to increase awareness about the important areas for birds and biodiversity within the Himas, in addition to the identification of endangered species and ecosystems through educational activities funded by the European Union (EU) and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).
The event had many positive reviews that opened the opportunities of SPNL’s collaboration with international organizations. This led Mr. Assad Serhal to attend further meetings in Paris after the exhibition had ended. As such, a meeting was held between Mr. Assad and Mrs. Andree’ who visited HE Ambassador of Lebanon, Mr. Karam at UNESCO Paris, and presented to him the Hima and SPNL magazines, and explained about projects funded by UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, EU, and Souk Al-Hima products, in the presence of Mr. Ziad Taan at UNESCO.
Furthermore, Mr. Assad and Mrs. Andree visited the Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe). This institute has a big library for books and magazines as well as a space for display of products and handicrafts. Several meetings were held to introduce SPNL activities such as the Hima approach, SPNL magazine, and the SNOW program. In specific, meetings were held with the Educational Action director (presentation of SEARCH and SNOW projects) Mrs Mostefaï, the Bookshop and boutique director (to promote SPNL publications and Hima items) Mrs Saadi and the Cultural Actions Director (opportunities of future conferences, debates, exhibitions, etc.) Mr. Métalsi.
All in all, this exhibition has been a successful start for SPNL to spread its experiences in conservation, women empowerment and sustainable use of natural resources to the international arena.