Joumana Asseil participates in the inaugural hike for the Peony trail at the Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve on Thursday. (The Daily Star/ Betsy Joles)
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Five new hiking trails were inaugurated in the Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve Thursday with a celebration of the initiative that is intended to promote conservation and tourism. A winding 40 kilometer ride from Beirut to the Jabal Moussa reserve, on the western Mount Lebanon chain, is a welcome respite from the urban Lebanese landscape.The new hiking trails are part of the Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa's ecotourism project, designed to showcase the area's beauty while bringing sustainable growth to the seven surrounding villages. Part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program since 2009, the Jabal Moussa reserve contains over 750 species of flowers and trees.Elie Khalil was born in Qehmez and started working for the reserve in 2010 .A big part of the ecotourism project, Khalil said, is convincing locals that conservation and tourism are both positive things.The biosphere concept depends on locals embracing the reserve's mission, which hasn't always been easy.Doumet said the biosphere is working to promote the ecotourism program to locals as a financial boon.
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