When heritage enters schools: empowering young generations with traditional knowledge

Students at the College des Saints Coeurs in Chweir (Lebanon) explored traditional practices and sustainable use of local natural resources in a hands-on workshop developed by EFIMED with the support of the Barcelona Provincial Council.

Students learning about pine essential oils in Lebanon.
Students from the College des Saints Coeurs in Chweir (Lebanon) discovering traditional uses of pine related resources while preparing air fresheners with pine essential oils: engaging with new generations is key to protect natural heritage and preserving traditional knowledge. Photo: Rhea Kahale.

What is the future of traditional knowledge if it is not transmitted to younger generations? Recognising the importance of preserving local wisdom on natural resources, the European Forest Institute Mediterranean Facility (EFIMED) organised a hands-on workshop for a group of students in Lebanon. This initiative is part of a larger development cooperation project implemented by EFIMED with the support of the Barcelona Provincial Council (DIBA) to address the disconnection between people and nature in five municipalities of the Mount Lebanon area.

Students aged between 12 and 14 from the College des Saints Coeurs in Chweir joined an interactive workshop, held on 15 December 2023, aimed at transmitting traditional knowledge and skills related to pine trees. Visual, auditory, and hands-on approaches were employed to engage participants in discovering the natural and cultural elements connected to the traditional use of pines in the Mount Lebanon area. The importance of managing this natural resource in a sustainable way was also highlighted throughout the workshop.

Young students learning the differences between Pinus pinea and Pinus brutia. Photo: Rhea Kahale.

Students got to know about the characteristics of two different pine species present in the region (Pinus pinea and Pinus brutia) and watched two videos on the  traditional collection and preparation of pine nuts and pine essential oils. The young participants had also the chance to get their hands dirty (or, in this case, it would be better to say scented!) by working with pine essential oil and preparing air fresheners themselves.

Read all the details about this development cooperation initiative in Lebanon!

EFIMED and DIBA are also working together to promote forest resilience in Morocco. Read our account on their visit to Bou Hachem and Talassemtane natural parks!

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EFIMED is the Mediterranean Facility of the European Forest Institute. Based in Barcelona, Spain, it was launched in 2007.