BEIRUT: Lebanon launched its first control room to better monitor the country’s natural resources with support from the National Council for Scientific Research, which described the venture as essential for the economy.

“With the impact of climate change and the rise in incidents of drought, forest fire, land degradation, flooding and random construction proliferating, the need for a system to manage resources and monitor natural hazards has grown,” said a statement issued by the council Monday.

The statement added that control room operators, who include members of the council, would meet at the Grand Serail Tuesday under the patronage of Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb.

The council described the control room as a pioneering step for natural science in Lebanon, as apart from the room itself, additional infrastructure would be built to assess the possibility of natural disasters occurring in the country.

It would also provide the government’s disaster management unit with much needed support, the statement said.

Information gleaned from the control room will be compiled into seasonal reports about snow coverage on Lebanon’s peaks, key as snow is a major water source for the country. Operators will also monitor the weather for early signs of drought, by measuring data from direct sensors and satellites that will evaluate various vegetation indicators, including humidity and the surface temperature in dry areas.

In time the equipment will be able to predict drought spells and other installations will work to minimize damage in vulnerable areas.

The statement said the council’s team would cooperate with Italian professionals and the Civil Defense to issue frequent reports about the real risk of forest fire and floods, with predictions earmarked for 72 hours at a time.

Operators will use 3-D modeling to analyze data, as well as maps provided by the council and climate-related information collected through stations run by the Agricultural Research Institute and the Meteorological Department at Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Establishing the control room was the aim of the Regional Coordination on Improved Water Resources Management and Capacity Building Program, known as CAPWATER, which aimed to establish sustainable water resources in the interest of water and food security.

CAPWATER was launched by the World Bank and the Global Facility Environment organization in 2012, according to the statement, to meet resource needs of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

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