Trees Used by King Solomon to Build Temple Threatened by Climate Change, Report Says

Sunlight peaks through the branches of a cedar tree |

Cedars are closely associated to Lebanon, with the tree even serving as the country's national emblem. The relationship between the country and the cedar is even documented in Scripture.

The phrase "Cedars of Lebanon" is used quite often in the Bible and the trees were famously used by King Solomon for the purpose of constructing his temple.

The cedar of Lebanon is also mentioned in Psalms.

One particular passage from Psalm 92: 12-15 reads: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.'"

These cedar trees, however, may become harder and harder to find in the future.

A report earlier this month from The New York Times cited a 2010 study and Lebanese specialists who said that climate change is posing a great threat to the cedar trees of Lebanon.

"Climate change is a fact here. There is less rain, higher temperatures, and more extreme temperatures," Nizar Hani, the Shouf Biosphere Reserve's director, told the publication.

Cedar trees need moisture and cool temperatures to grow strong and thrive for decades, and increasingly, areas that provide those are becoming harder to come by in Lebanon.

The New York Times' Beirut chief, Anne Barnard, noted that the cedars' "ecological comfort zone" is steadily moving up to higher altitudes, among the mountains. Scholars also told her that if the climate in the country continues to climb at the rate it is expected to over the coming years, then by the year 2100, the cedar trees may only be able to live comfortably in the northern tip of Lebanon.

However, northern Lebanon is still no safe haven for the cedars due to the insects. Previously, insects infecting cedar trees to such a degree as they are doing now were rare occurrences, but the sawfly is now emerging earlier due to the earlier snowmelt and eating new cedar shoots.

Some people in the country are now working to make sure that cedar trees remain abundant.

Scientists are investigating the trees to see how the changing climates have affected them, and Dr. Youssef Tawk, a medical doctor and conservationist, is working with his colleagues to help restore forests.

In 20 years, Tawk's group has planted 100,000 new trees.

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