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ECOPLANTMED International Conference “Ecological Restoration in the Mediterranean region: Challenges and Opportunities”
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In the framework of the ECOPLANTMED project, Saint Joseph University (USJ) held the ECOPLANTMED International Conference at the Campus of Innovation and Sports (CIS) in Beirut on 14, 15 and 16 of October. The conference was under the high patronage of the Minister of Agriculture HE Mr. Akram Chehayeb represented by Dr. Salma Samaha.

ECOPLANTMED International Conference, entitled “Ecological Restoration in the Mediterranean region: Challenges and Opportunities”, focused on the ecological restoration of Mediterranean type habitats that faced degradation by urban development, fire, invasive species, overgrazing, quarries, mines, etc. The conference gathered 147 persons from 7 different Mediterranean countries, and also from Chile (country with Mediterranean type climate), coming all the way to participate in this 3-day conference in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities of ecological restoration in the Mediterranean region. 

On October 14th, during the opening ceremony Prof. Salim Dacchache, Rector of Saint Joseph University, welcomed the audience and highlighted the importance of the ecological restoration programs in the Lebanese context of the 40 Million trees program. Also, he stressed the importance of the idea of using native species in the restoration. After that, Dr. Jordi Cortina, Chair of the European Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), presented the activities of the Society. Then the ECOPLANTMED project and its different activities were described by the Project Coordinator Mrs Panagiota Gotsiou (presentation: pdf). Finally, Prof. Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat, President of the ECOPLANTMED Conference Organizing Committee, highlighted the importance of the use of native species in ecological restoration. She stressed on the long evolutionary pathway undertaken by the native species and how fragile they become with the erosion of biogeographical barriers. Human-mediated dispersal of species into new regions, where they can naturalize will cause ecological, economic and social damage (presentation: pdf). The ceremony was concluded with a cocktail reception.

October 15th, the second day, was divided into 3 different sessions: 

  • Arid and Dune ecosystems, led by keynote speaker Jordi Cortina, Chair of the European Chapter of SER (Spain). He presented to the audience “the priorities for the restoration of semiarid landscapes at different scales” (presentation: pdf). 
  • Forest Ecosystem, led by keynote speaker Michele Bozzano, Researcher at Bioversity International (Italy). His presentation was about the “Relevance of genetic considerations in ensuring effective forest restoration” (presentation: pdf).
  • Ecological restoration techniques and key parameters, led by keynote speaker Thierry Dutoit, Research Director at the National Council for Scientific Research (France). He presented “Ecosystems restoration with ecological engineering techniques: case studies in Mediterranean France” (presentation: pdf).

Each session included further presentations related to its theme (see agenda here), and was ended by a discussion for a better understanding of the presented topics. The 3rd session included a presentation of the ECOPLANTNMED pilot restoration action in Lebanon by Perla Farhat (presentation: pdf). The sessions were followed by poster presentations illustrating different activities and projects of the participants. The day ended with a "Comptoir" of Mediterranean flavors. It was an opportunity for all to taste and try traditional food from the countries represented in the conference.

On October 16th, a field trip was performed to Holcim restoration pilot site in Chekka where Holcim industry and the restoration actions elaborated in the quarry of Kfarhazir were presented. Then, the participants enjoyed a peaceful walk discovering the unique biodiversity of Horch Ehden Nature Reserve. Finally, a farewell dinner was held in a traditional Lebanese restaurant.

The day after the official end of the Conference, October 17th, several of the Conference participants joined the ECOPLANTMED partners on a field trip to the ECOPLANTMED pilot site in Mount Lebanon, where the restoration techniques used were explained on-site. This was followed by a traditional Lebanese brunch, where local products were delivered.

The conference seemed to be a great opportunity to highlight the importance of ecological restoration and the use of native species. The researchers that gathered together had the opportunity to network and discuss their point of views and share their experiences. Moreover, many Master students also attended the 3-day conference. For most of them it was their first participation in an international conference and they greatly appreciated the scientific environment.

With the hope that the network created in this conference will allow a real exchange of know-how, promote a sector for the ecological restoration in the Mediterranean leading to achieve a healthier biodiversity and nature in this region we closed the International Conference of ECOPLANTMED Project.

ECOPLANTMED International Conference website:

The Proceedings of the ECOPLANTMED International Conference are available in the volume 'Plant Sociology 54 (1) Supplement 1', which can be freely downloaded at the link

For more information about the event please contact Dr. Magda Bou Dagher Kharrat:




















PHOTOS-DAY 3-visit to Ehden Nature Reserve


PHOTOS-DAY 3-visit to Holcim




PHOTOS-DAY 4-visit to ECOPLANTMED pilot restoration site






Date Published:
Nov 05, 2015