Some of the trees in Akkar province are more than 100 years old, says Mohammed Abdallah. A refugee from the war just over the border in Syria, Abdallah has come to know the forests of northern Lebanon well and has spent recent days putting out a persistent blaze that threatened ancient woodland near Qabeit.
He is one of 80 men and women of the First Responders team of Jurd al-Qayteh, drawn from 15 villages in Akkar, the region’s largest volunteer firefighting unit. Wildfires are responsible for 26% of tree loss in Lebanon over the past 20 years. Rising temperatures and poor forest management have contributed to an increase this year in a season that lasts about 18 weeks through to late September. With the country in economic crisis, emergency services like firefighters are in disarray.