A picture taken on January 6, 2016 shows a path covered with snow and cedar trees in the al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve on the slopes of Barouk mountain, southeast of the Lebanese capital Beirut. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ
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If you were a Lebanese landowner, what would convince you to plant a forest on your property?Today, about 13 percent of Lebanon is covered by forests, but the government's goal is 20 percent.The first two phases of the Environment Ministry's National Reforestation Plan managed to reclaim just 580 hectares.A 2000 study of global biodiversity "hot spots" ranked the Mediterranean Basin second in plant diversity.So what's the best way to replant a diverse forest? Finally, landowners were offered the same grant, but with annual $3 payments for surviving trees.There are, however, other issues to be addressed before implementing any of these "payments for ecosystem services" or PES schemes, Sarkissian said.Estimates put reforestation costs at roughly $7,000 per hectare – although a 2014 study from the Environment Ministry, the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environment Facility suggests it could be done at a fraction of the cost.PES schemes target landowners, who are often already rich, and it is more efficient to target large landholders than tracking down lots of smaller landholders – meaning the richest of the rich could stand to benefit.
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