The Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC) is a non–profit, non-governmental organization established in 1993 as a local environmental and social development active civil society organization Fundamental to AFDC’s values is the pursuit of community-based conservation for the advancement of people’s livelihoods.
AFDC’s vision can be summarized by its pursuit to achieve sustainable development and conservation of natural resources at the local and national levels. Its mission is seen as its quest to achieve sustainable development for better livelihoods of the people in Lebanon through the enhanced management of natural resources, especially forests, the building of technical and scientific capacities, and through advocacy and awareness in partnership with the local communities in addition to the private and public sectors.
AFDC works at the national level in more than 12 different locations in the North, South and Mount Lebanon through volunteer units of more than 300 individuals. Through its units and in partnership with various stakeholders AFDC implements the following programs:
- Nature and conservation program that includes: biodiversity conservation, forest and forest fires management, and degraded lands restoration
- Outreach, communication and advocacy program that includes: environmental education, capacity building, media outreach, special campaigns and policies/strategies
- Sustainable development program that includes: rural development, eco-tourism, relief campaigns and projects, resilient communities and corporate social responsibility
- Research and project development program that includes environmental monitoring, project formulation, academic collaboration and internship.
Environmental awareness has been a major concern for AFDC since its creation as many abuses to natural resources come out of negligence and ignorance. Therefore, AFDC has engaged in countless awareness campaigns targeting different sectors of society. Additionally, AFDC established an environmental education program to have a far reaching impact on future generations, the leaders of tomorrow. The environmental education program has been a growing initiative at AFDC and allowed it to reach over 500 public and private schools across the country.
PIONEER INITIATIVE: THE NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
The organization cooperated with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and more specifically with the national Education Center for Research and Development, known as the CRDP, to develop a more structured and integrated approach to reach out to schools and deliver the environmental messages children should acquire as part of their education.
AFDC and its strategic partners, the CRDP and the Hanns Seidel foundation that funded the organization’s environmental education portfolio since 1998, developed Lebanon’s first “National Strategy for Environmental Education”. The work which was initiated in 2010 was crowned by the approval of the “National Strategy” towards the end of 2012 by the Ministry of Education. Following the development of the strategy, the AFDC and its partners developed the environmental education curricula for the 1st and 2nd educational cycles in cooperation with educators and experts from concerned ministries, NGOs, and various stakeholders.
At their core, the strategy and curricula focus on showcasing how environmental messages can be delivered through every course material students are given and through the creative use of extra-curricular activities that foster both the students’ environmental awareness and their civic engagement.
The strategy and the curricula done, AFDC progressed into the next logical step: dissemination. For this end, AFDC engaged with the CRDP’s training, counseling and guidance department to reach out for more than 300 teachers. The teachers were trained using appropriate material to show how they can, with means on board, implement and integrate the “National Strategy” within their classes. The trained teachers were expected to train other teachers within their schools in order to increase the benefit and the reach of the strategy.
During this phase, three schools were selected as pilot for the implementation of the strategy at the school level and to develop specific action plans with which the schools become eco-friendly for the benefit of not only the schools themselves but also for the community as a whole. The chosen schools were: As Safir School in the region of Saida, Al Manar Modern School in the Upper Maten region and Al Ahlaih School in the Bekaa region. The schools’ positive feedback was overwhelming highlighting the need to conduct similar work in more schools throughout the country.
Beyond these pilot schools many others were engaged in various activities and trainings in order to promote the sense of environmental stewardship among students and teachers alike.
The project’s closing event was held on the 9th of November 2015 with the participation of over 400 children and teachers from various schools across the country.
Currently, AFDC wishes to implement this successful model through various schools and would like to mainstream the strategy throughout the public and private academic sectors.
For more information :
Association for Forests, Development and Conservation
Building 26, Sagesse Street 7, Jdeideh, Mount Lebanon, Lebanon.
Mr. Elias Chnais
Ms. Siham Salman