By Robert Cusack
Special to The Daily Star
Monday, June 07, 2010

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Robert Cusack

Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: The importance of bee-keeping and its special role in nature conservation was highlighted at the closing celebrations for project “Oak Honey” at UNESCO palace, Saturday.

Project “Oak Honey” is a project masterminded by the Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC) and works by educating Lebanese school children about the environmental, economical and sociological significance of honey and beekeeping.

Ten schools were provided with educational kits which were aimed at all ages and work by isolating the importance of beekeeping and the role of forestry in honey production and educating children about the conservation of Lebanon’s nature and its natural resources.

The contents of the kit include six lesson plans, three supplementary educational books and a CD on environmental topics such as “Bee Community,” “Production of Honey,” “Characteristics of the Honey,” “Honey Products”, “Honey and Nutrition,” and “Oak Trees” for students in elementary, intermediate and high school classes.

When asked why beekeeping had been chosen as a project specifically, Giorgio Colombo, project coordinator with the Italian organization Unity and Co-operation for the Development of Peoples (UCODEP) told The Daily Star: “This is just one project of many that we do … but we started this project in 2006 as a result of a large number of bee-keepers and farmers in south Lebanon losing everything after the war.”

“We work alongside the beekeepers by educating them as to how to develop and improve their business,” he said, “We also work with two centers in the south – one that reproduces queen bees and one that works to bottle honey, ready for the market.”

The organization is also looking to start a new program that would work alongside the Agriculture Ministry against the use of pesticides that are harmful to bees by educating farmers and beekeepers about the damage their chemicals inflict upon nature.

The AFDC is a Lebanese organization and was established in 1993, it works to raise awareness on sustainable conservation of natural resources and improve environmental management in community-based conservation.

They work to educate Lebanese children and local communities through developing and maintaining the conservation of forests and Lebanon’s natural resources and its sustainable management.

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