Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: Mount al-Makmal, Lebanon

Geschreven op 27-2-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberThe Forest of the Cedars of God. At one time the plains and mountains of Lebanon were densely covered with majestic cedar trees. Today, the heavily reduced remains of the immense forests are found on the high slopes of Mount al-Makmal in northern Lebanon. They are known as the Cedars of God.

Beneath the Cedars of God lies the deep, yawning valley of Ouadi Qadisha, or the Holy Valley, which is scattered with chapels, temples and monasteries. Like the Phoenicians and Israelites, the Christians used the cedar trees to construct religious buildings, and the Holy Valley is home to some of the earliest Christian monastic settlements. In the 7th century, Christian monks settled in caves in the steep cliffs of the valley to lead lives of solitude.

Since ancient times, the cedar tree has been a highly prized building material due to its exceptionally hard consistency and beautiful scent. Both the Babylonians and the Assyrians exploited its timber, and the Egyptians used its wood for shipbuilding and its resin for mummification. Today, its cultural importance is acknowledged in the Lebanese flag, which has a green cedar tree in the centre.

It is said that the cedar of Lebanon is one of the oldest trees in the world. Among the Lebanese Cedars of God, 12 trees are more than a thousand years old, and the rest are aged at least one hundred.

In the years to come, the last ancient cedars face a severe threat from climate change. During the next 70 years the temperature in Lebanon is expected to rise, while precipitation will drop, making the climate significantly more arid than today and affecting the conservation of the cedar trees. In the future, the ancient cedars might only exist as part of a mythological past, leaving the Lebanese landscape barren

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