Many communities rely on volunteer firefighting teams as a first line of defense. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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This year's wildfire season has yet to enter its most dangerous months, but experts say a perfect storm of government inaction and changing socio-economic and climactic conditions are setting the stage for longer and more intense blazes. In addition to countless minor conflagrations, large fires have this year scorched the northern district of Akkar, the Mount Lebanon town of Rashmaya – where the same area of forested land has been devastated by fire three times in the last decade – and the biologically diverse Chouwen and Jabal Moussa regions of Kesrouan, where 100 Civil Defense firefighters and the Lebanese Army battled a blaze for 10 days.On May 13, 2009, the strategy was adopted by Cabinet Resolution 52, but, more than eight years later, experts say there is very little to show for it. A Parliamentary National Defense, Interior and Municipalities Committee report on forest fires published in April – at the start of this year's fire season – revisited the subject and set out a long list of recommendations. Lebanon's forests were historically managed by rural communities, Mitri said, and emigration from agricultural land has thus compounded the risk of fire.With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Mitri has been able to produce a fire risk assessment that provides a nine-day forecast.
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