Biodiversity Village Award Winners Announced


Local Environment benefits from “Baldati Bi’ati 2011” Project

across 18 Municipalities in Lebanon


Beirut – 26 October, 2011: AUB-Ibsar, Nature Conservation Center for Sustainable Futures at the American University of Beirut (AUB), announced today the winners of the Biodiversity Village Award (BVA) which was launched earlier this year. The announcement was attended by the Director General of Municipalities, Mr. Khalil Hajal, representing the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, Dean Nahla Hwalla representing AUB’s Provost, Mr. Antoine Tayyar representing The Coca-Cola Foundation, project participants and members of the press. 


Supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation, the environmentally-themed competition promoted local participation in developing village green maps through a self-assessment process. The villages invited to participate in the project were preselected by AUB-Ibsar based on the center’s Program which was initiated in 2007 to help conserve Lebanon’s biodiversity and native tree species by engaging local citizens. The pre-selection was based on two years planting activities in collaboration with over 50 municipalities.


“It’s been really great working with the 18 participating villages over the past months. Their passion and commitment towards their natural environment has been inspiring and we’re happy with the results,” said Dr. Salma Talhouk, Chair of the Landscape and Design and Ecosystems Management Department at AUB and member of Ibsar. Dr Talhouk added: “The project revealed interesting facts about the participating villages: most have more than 20% green cover, harbor 24 Lebanese native tree species, and have allocated a combined 100,000 m2 of public lands to tree planting. The project also showed that most villages have preserved traditional activities such as bee keeping, wild edible plants collection and local nature walks and are interested in encouraging ecotourism. The Coca-Cola Foundation has been an integral partner in helping to get this project on the road and we are extremely grateful to them for their continuous support.”


Since the program was launched, local committees have worked on collecting information, identifying the villages’ main natural landmarks as well as their current and future environmental initiatives. This self-assessment process has resulted in the development of “Green Maps” for each village, revealing the main natural and cultural landmarks, through environmental icons, and identifying significant future projects. 


Antoine Tayyar, Public Affairs and Communications Director of Coca-Cola Middle East said: “AUB-Ibsar has gone to great length to help conserve Lebanon’s natural environment and we are delighted to be a part of the success of the Biodiversity Village Awards. The Coca-Cola Company continuously aims to provide positive impact to the communities it operates within, and the Biodiversity Village Awards has been a great inspiration to the Lebanese communities”


The Coca-Cola company worked closely with AUB-Ibsar for two years to support local municipalities by helping them find solutions to local needs, building capabilities and improving quality of life through programs, partners and people. Always striving to be an active partner to the Lebanese community, Coca-Cola has implemented a range of local community projects in Lebanon with the likes of the ‘CedaRoots’ project, inaugurating the first cedar forest in South Lebanon in 2001 and supporting the ‘Go Green’ initiative to raise awareness on a number of environmental issues.


The Award Ceremony included a display of the Villages’ Green Maps as well as a screening of a documentary on the project and the participating villages. Judging was carried out by a jury of AUB faculty members who set criteria for evaluation of portfolios.


The Biodiversity Village Award (BVA) is intended to become an annual event; an incentive-based strategy that provides visibility and recognition to villages who engage in the planning and implementation of projects and initiatives that promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.


The winning villages were announced as follows:

–  Aarsal – Sustainable management of the village’s Jurd award

–  Niha – Sustainable management of the village’s forest award

–  Kawkaba – Sustainable management of the village’s waterfronts award

–  Meshmesh – Environmentally active community award for the year 2011

–  Mr. Hasan Zwawi (Der el Zahrani) – Environmental leadership award for the year 2011