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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lebanon's cedars threatened by global warming

BAROUK, Lebanon — There's no escaping the cedar tree in Lebanon.

A cedar is emblazoned on the country's flag, and another on the planes of the national airline. It is on the currency, on passports and on all official documents. It is proudly worn on the uniforms of soldiers and crudely plastered on tourist knickknacks from ashtrays to fridge magnets.

Cedars also have played an integral part in Lebanon's volatile political life. Several Christian factions in the country's civil war adopted the cedar as their emblem; one called itself the Guardian of the Cedars. When Lebanese took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops in 2005, their protest was dubbed the Cedar Revolution.

And such is the importance of the cedar that onetime Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt, now a leading politician, planted land mines around the trees in his Shouf mountain fiefdom during the civil war era, to protect them from loggers, militias and other marauders.

But the imposing, majestic tree that has defined Lebanon since biblical times now faces a potentially bigger threat to its existence than war or political overkill.

Read on

The painting is by Edward Lear

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