To the naturalist and ecologist Ricardus Haber, forest fires in Lebanon constitute a senseless loss of the natural wealth and the work of millions of years. To the environmentalist, they are a stabbing to the heart of nature and his heart erasing all that he considers dear and essential. He could not conceive living trees with their entire ecological role being turned to ashes, or wild life and insects with all the glamour of their diversity and partnership with the ecological system being burnt.

Ricardus always reminds audience of the first congress addressing forests around the Mediterranean, and which was held in Lebanon in the early 1950’s. It was then stated that 99% of the forest fires around the Mediterranean are caused by man. Forest fires are not acceptable, particularly that they are spurred by insignificant and trivial activities that could be controlled. Yet, they still consume the precious riches, so he fought them industriously.

Every time Ricardus spots a fire when visiting the fields or roaming the countryside, he would drive to the site and start mobilizing dwellers of nearby buildings to help put out the fire or its advancement by availing water. (The most infuriating scene would be people standing on their balconies or by the road looking at the fire and not taking any initiative to stop it; life is being threatened while people are watching.) Ricardus would ask the neighbors to call the fire fighting authorities. Then, he would carry the water and start to put out the fire himself. Young adults would join in and help; soon, a small team would be formed for his assistance and they would work until the fire was put out or aid arrives. Beside fighting forest fire and preserving the green Lebanon, these initiatives always proved that the Lebanese youth looks for leadership and examples to identify with in order to engage at altering their own behavior, Ricardus always provides the model.

On the line of fighting forest fires, Ricardus would also be phoned day or night from members of Friends of Nature or people who attended his lectures and identified with him, to inform him of a fire erupting in a place in Lebanon. Ricardus would then invest a network of contacts to relay the message and soldier authorities for action. He would not rest until he receives news that the fire was over.


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