FAFS hosted Dr. Ramzi Touchan, Professor of Watershed Management and Ecohydrology at the University of Arizona and specialist in Tree-Ring Research, who gave a lecture in relation to the drought history and tree rings in the Mediterranean Region.
During the lecture at FAFS, Dr. Touchan explained how the Tree-Ring research occurs and how the olive trees in Bcheale, a village in the district of Batroun, will be studied.
As per the Chairperson of the Agriculture department at the American University of Beirut, Dr. Isam Bashour's recommendation, Dr. Touchan was invited as part of the USAID Olive Project program jointly funded by the Municipality of Bcheale, to estimate the age of the 6 oldest olive trees in this area, to study their varieties and to develop a plan to increase their number. These trees currently stand at 1200 meters, which is a rare occurrence since olive trees usually stand at a maximum height of 1000m. Given the rarity and strength of their genome, cuttings were taken from the trees in order to propagate and plant new trees. These rare olive trees have received critical attention due to their estimate age, their variety, their production status, and their height. Irrespective of their age, they still produce olives and have proven to be resilient to the environment, cold weather and their surroundings. There are no reports in Lebanon that indicate the presence of trees that are older than those being inspected.
At that point, Dr. Touchan and Dr. Bashour collected samples to effectuate a carbon dating study and calculate the trees’ age with a 10 year error margin.
This study is crucial as it could revolutionize the olive tree production chain and provide farmers with strong seeds instead of importing them from Spain, Italy, Jordan and other countries.
Results will be published in a report in the upcoming few months and a sign with the correct age will be added next to the trees in Bcheale.
Example of a tree ring study on a Cedar tree: