Under the high patronage of the Minister of Agriculture HE Mr. Akram Chehayeb, the Saint Joseph University launched the ECOPLANTMED International Conference, on Wednesday October 14, at the Campus of Innovation and Sports (CIS) in Beirut. ECOPLANTMED is a joint Mediterranean initiative based on the collaboration among seed banks, research institutes and institutions dealing with native plant conservation and management. The project aims to contribute to halting the loss of biodiversity and to promote a sustainable development model in the Mediterranean region by enhancing the conservation of native plants and promoting their use in habitat restoration and the plant production sector.
The opening ceremony gathered people from 18 different Mediterranean countries coming all the way to participate in this 3-day conference in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the ecological restoration in the Mediterranean region. During his speech, Pr Salim Dacchache Rector of Saint Joseph University affirmed that “ [the] ecological restoration programs are a must. It isn’t about creating new functions, but putting today’s technology at the service of nature. We have to do our best to imitate what nature does spontaneously and free of charge if we give it time.” After that, Dr. Jordi Cortina chair of the European Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration, presented the activities of the Society. Then the ECOPLANTMED project and its different Work Packages were described by the ECOPLANTMED project coordinator Mrs Panagiota Gotsiou. Finally, Pr. Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat president of the ECOPLANTMED organizing committee highlighted the importance of the use of the native species in ecological restoration. “Our flora is unique” she affirmed, “It’s our duty to preserve such patrimonial heritage.” The ceremony was concluded with a cocktail reception.
The following day, different sessions on the (1) Arid and Dune ecosystems, (2) Forest Ecosystem and (3) Ecological restoration techniques and key parameters were held;
Scientists coming from different countries presented their ongoing projects and gave recommendations to be considered in the ecological restoration. The sessions were followed by posters presentations illustrating different activities and projects of the participants. The day ended by a « Comptoir » of Mediterranean flavors. It was an opportunity for all the participants to taste and try traditional food from the countries represented in the conference.
The third day the participant had a field trips to Holcim restoration pilot site in Chekka and Horch Ehden Nature Reserve, good examples of ecological restoration and forest biodiversity and ecology respectively.
And the last day was a visit to the ECOPLANTMED restoration site, located in the reforestation site of Jouzour Loubnan NGO in Kfardebian