Beirut 31 March 2015 – The Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment (BALADI) program, funded by the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Rene Moawad Foundation (RMF), inaugurated the Ecological Adventure Park in Bentael Nature Reserve in Mechehlen, Jbeil. The inauguration took place in the presence of USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Mrs. Mona Yacoubian, USAID Mission Director Mrs. Carolyn Bryan, Former Minister and President of René Moawad Foundation Mrs. Nayla Moawad, the representative of the Head of the Office of Common Administration at the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities Mrs. Racha Hourani, other relevant ministry representatives, as well as representatives from the Edde municipality, Bentael Nature Reserve Committee, and the community of Bentael, Bhdidat, Kafar, Kfoun, Dmilsa, and Kfarmashoun.
USAID contributed $159,000 to establish the eco-adventure park inside Bentael Nature Reserve, including an outdoor adventure area, a library, a conservation museum, a showroom for local products and handicrafts, restrooms, a solar power system, installations for accessibility of persons with disabilities, and training for the reserve and community staff who will manage and sustain the park. The project was planned by the community and the municipality of Edde to boost the economy in seven villages. Through employment and income generation activities, the park will economically benefit more than 45 families. In addition, more than 6500 visitors per year are expected to visit the park to experience Bentael reserve’s new activities (in addition to the existing biking, hiking, and bird watching activities) and learn more about resource conservation. The reserve operates annually from April to October. Annual net profits earned from the new park activities will be used by the community to implement needed development projects in the seven participating villages.