The Man Who Saved the Cedars of Lebanon

The Legend of Sayed Cedar Seed

we've heard so much about the loss of Lebanon's cedars

to over-timbering, poaching, war, climate change, insect infestations

Many thousands of square kilometers of forest once spread across most of Lebanon’s highlands. Only 17 square kilometers of cedars remain. -Anne Barnard, NYTimes

rumor says somewhere there is a man who dedicates his life to planting cedars. we want to find him and help.

we begin our quest in Tripoli, in the far north of Lebanon,18 miles from the Syrian border

we seek knowledge in the mosque

to nearby Mount Lebanon we must go

to the Qadisha, one of the deepest and most beautiful valleys in Lebanon

we make our way to Der Mar Antonios Ishaya, a monastery filled with chains and wisdom

it houses the first printing press in the Middle East (1584)

and ancient texts. The Roman Emperor Hadrian declared the cedar forests as royal domains, and commanded replanting

but time and demand for the exceptional wood took toll. the few remaiming cedars wheep.

with monastic blessings, we begin our hike to the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve

some claim this is the original garden of eden

we pass apple trees, but don't dare pluck

pampered by mist and relatively high precipitation, a multitude of rare and endemic plants flourish here

including a beautiful remnant forest of cedars

the blue stripe means the spring water is potable

we hike and hike but dont find the mystery man

but then, when we leave the reserve and head to a promontory overlooking Ehden...

we at last meet the man, Sayed Marcos, the Johnny Appleseed of cedars

Sayed has planted 100,000 cedars

in 25 years

and he puts us to work, planting young cedar trees

now we have roots in Lebanon

To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness.

john muir

an unsung hero, Sayed Marcos

to help Sayed and the cedars of Lebanon, email or contact #mtsobek #stellerstories