Volunteer Stories

Garielle Bohlman


Farmer-to-Farmer in the Middle East and North Africa

Gabriel bohlman is explaining to the trainee how to delineate the plot using 2 perpendicular measure tapes which will identify a zone of interest for  data collection, species inventory and analysis of the forest's conditions.

Name: Gabrielle Bohlman
Current title/profession: Graduate Student Researcher at UC Davis
Current hometown: Davis, California
Areas of expertise: Ecology, Plant Biology, Post-Fire Management, Forest Regeneration


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer in the Middle East and North Africa
Location of the project: Lebanon
Organization that sent the volunteer: Land O'Lakes International Development


Lebanon is one of the most forested countries in the Middle East and is known for its iconic cedar forests. However, since the 1960’s forest cover has been reduced by 20% due to human activities like clearing land for agriculture and harvesting trees for wood. Over the past decade, the government has partnered with non-profit organizations and development programs in order to increase reforestation of these lost wild areas.

The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI) was established in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Forest Service (USFS). LRI provides technical assistance and institutional support on sustainable forestry practies and wildfire management in economically depressed and environmentally degraded regions within Lebanon.

The Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, has been partnering with LRI to provide highly skilled technical experts on short-term assignments to increase the technical know-how within LRI and partnering organizations and institutions.

In October of 2015, F2F MENA sent Gabrielle Bohlman, a graduate student at UC Davis in Ecology, to Lebanon to help develop an important tool for LRI and its partners.

The purpose of her work was to create a consistent process enabling a unified data collection sytem for allwho are gathering forestry data. While in country, Bohlman was able to adapt the local knowledge with the expertise that she brought from theUS to develop this protocol. Bohlman’s assignment was a great success! She trained 15 data collectors and the program used her protocol for the first time in 2016 and is planning to use it for their next round of data collection. In addition to the LRI’s and partnering NGO data collectors, Bohlman also shared her protocol with experts from five local universities who have integrated it into their work to be used for scientific purposes. Bohlman’s work is making it possible for analyists to create a map of vegetation in Lebanon, which will be developed at the end of 2017.

This map will inform reforestation decision-making in Lebanon by delineating where vegetation can exist and thus demarcate the best reforestation sites and species combinations. The analysis from the data that is collected using Bohlman’s method is also being used to create the country’s first open source web- based reforestation platform.

F2F MENA is implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

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