The Cedars forest reserve, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015. (The Daily Star/Grace Kassab)
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BEIRUT: Thousands of years ago, the legendary Sumerian King Gilgamesh was in the land that would become Lebanon on a two-part quest: looking for both immortality and wood from the coveted cedar tree for his palaces.A report published in May 2016 by the United Nations Environment Program predicts a future for the cedars that reflects their past.The Forest of the Cedars of God also stands out as a unique attraction that an estimated 20 percent of all visitors to Lebanon travel to see, according to the report.Changing temperatures also harm the cedars in indirect ways.With all these factors in consideration, the report predicted that within a century – a short time in the life of a cedar that can live thousands of years – the number of groves in Lebanon will fall from around a dozen today, to just three.To protect the Cedars of God forest, the Friends of the Cedar Forest are surrounding the old forest with a buffer zone of younger cedar trees.Abu-Izzeddin now predicts that the forest will grow as attitudes toward the cedar tree change from those established by Gilgamesh millennia ago.
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