The Human Impact on the Environment in Lebanon
-Rania Masri
November 1995

Possibly the greatest danger threatening Lebanon currently is the
disastrous state of the foundation of life, the disastrous state of our
environment.  This catastrophe is not limited to Lebanon, but, as you
know, is a worldwide problem bred by ignorance and greed.  An important
point to be kept in mind is that demographic tendencies, the protection of
the environment and a lasting economic development are closely connected
and policies must aim at creating balanced objectives among these three

Woods cover about 6 percent of the surface of Lebanon.  The fertile lands
represent 12 percent of Lebanon's surface.  They are quickly disappearing
due to the savage urbanization.  The protection of these fertile lands
constitutes a first priority because their dis appearance will lead to a
natural catastrophe for the development of agriculture.  Furthermore, the
pollution due to solid wastes and pesticides requires a serious control
over the quality and the quantity of the products used.  In addition, the
loss of species in Lebanon is an almost irreversible process that
inevitably will result in tremendous ecological havoc. 

Pollution: Air,Water, Soil

Pollution is defined as the introduction by people into the environment of
substances or energy liable to cause h azard to human health, harm to
living resources and ecological systems, damage to structures, or
interference with legitimate uses of the environment. 

Pollution includes:  mining, burying toxins, gases from factories, the
leaded gas from cars, chemicals in agriculture, use of toxins in
undetermined, unstudied fashions, sewage waste and factory wastewater,
destruction and change of the soil in construction and quarry activities,
including water - soil - and air.  It is not only the opposite of
cleanliness, but encompasses every destruction and havoc placed upon the
environment In essence, pollution has three parts: soil, air, and water. 

Unfortunately, the policy followed by the Lebanese government since the
1950s always has been based on the extension of the field of industry and
the encouragement of exports, without regard to environmental concerns. 
The State favored high-productivity or high-value-added concerns by
adopting certain fiscal, customs and commercial measures.  No reference
has ever been made on the impact of industry on the surroundings or on the
protection of the environment, although development in given sector
affects the environment and other sectors in the either a positive or
negative manner (National Report on the Environment a nd Development i
Lebanon, 1991). 

Sources of Pollution

1. Industry 

Toxic matters released by industries, and the precipitation of matters in
suspension in the air emanating from industry and from all combustion
process in general are a primary source of air and water pollution.  The
production of electrical energy pollutes the atmosphere by the discharge
of thermo-electric power plants.  The sulfur content of fuel used in
Lebanon is high and so are SO2 emissions.  Cement works, refineries,
thermo electric power houses and a multiplicity of generators and small
combustion sources are the major pollutants of the atmosphere. 

In addition, liquid and solid wastes discharged from industries have
resulted in significant water pollution.  Industrial firms on the c oast
discharge their waste waters into the sea without any treatment.  Inland
industries discharge waste waters generally into the nearest stream and
without treatment.  Some industries evacuate their waste waters into deep
bore-holes with the risk of contamination of underground waters and
springs that sprout in downward spots.  Furthermore, industrial solid
wastes are generally deposited with municipal refuse without any
particular measures taken. 

2. Non-industrial solid wastes and waste waters

Non-industrial solid wastes and waste waters are a primary factor in
freshwater water, sea water and soil pollution.  Wastes brought by
waste-water conveyors are poured directly onto the coast without any
treatment.  Wastes from marinas and pleasure boats, and wastes left about
by vacationers and shore users further contribute to sea pollution.  In
addition, waste waters are poured into the sea and freshwater without any

3. Agriculture

Uncontrolled qualities and quantities of pesticides, insecticid es,
herbicides and fertilizers, and the bad utilization of animal fertilizers
on agriculture lands result in both water and soil pollution. 

Air Pollution

Atmospheric pollution which constitutes for ordinary citizens the most
evident aspect of the problem of the environment has been the least
researched in Lebanon.  The air of the cities and areas of large human
population is poor, and the quality of the air decreases with the increase
of factories and with the formation of enveloping fog around the citie s. 
In 1973, the National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) launched a
scheme for the continuous observation of contents in the air of harmful
matters (gas and dust).  The war put an end to the project and since then
atmospheric pollution problems continued to worsen.

Air pollution has not been the subject of any regulation with the
exception of the prohibition of the importation and use of diesel vehicles
(law of the 10th June, 1961 and decree 579 of the 1st August, 1956) and
the required conditions for vehicle engines, which currently are not being
applied.  There exists no authority in Lebanon which is directly
responsible for the quality of the air and the protection of the
atmosphere against pollution. 

The major pollutants of the atmosphere ar e the cement works, refineries,
thermo-electric power houses, a multiplicity of small combustion sources,
and generators installed at numerous industrial premises and residences to
compensate for power cuts.  Production of electrical energy pollutes the a
tmosphere by the discharge of thermo-electric power plants.  The sulfur
content of fuel used in Lebanon is high and so are SO2 emissions. 
However, fuel of low sulfur content costs 20 to 30% more than the type at
present used.  The treatment of pollutants is also costly and would
represent substantial charges to the cost of energy. 

Water Pollution

With the exception of waters at high altitudes where there are no at
present constructions above their levels, all Lebanese waters are exposed
to pollution due to the lack of a system for the evacuation of solid and
liquid residues and the lack of a control and water-protection system
against pollution.  The diseases transmitted by water and prevalent in
Lebanon are typhoid, hepatitis, and dysentery.  The resul ts of a large
number of tests made at different periods for waters of different origins
have proved the existence of bacteriological pollution.

Due to the war, statistics are scarce in Lebanon.  However, it is well
known in the country that diseases tran smitted by water are widespread. 
In 1990, there were four known epidemics transmitted by polluted drinking

-Nabeh el Tasseh in South Lebanon, 20th April, 1990.
- Tayr Debba in South Lebanon, 12th/13th July, 1990.
- Bebnin in North Lebanon, 20th August,1990.
-Denbo in the Akkar region, North Lebanon, 15th November, 1990.

A correlation was found between the number of cases relating to one of
these diseases in a given month and the characteristics of the flow-rate
of water streams, par ticularly during periods of vegetable-crop
irrigation with polluted waters. 

Industrial and non-industrial liquid and solid wastes are the primary
contributors to water pollution.  Industrial firms on the coast discharge
their waste waters into the sea wi thout any treatment.  Inland industries
discharge waste waters generally into the nearest stream and without
treatment.  In addition, some industries evacuate their waste waters into
deep bore-holes with the risk of contamination of underground waters and
springs that sprout in downward spots.  Also, industrial solid wastes are
generally evacuated with municipal refuse without any necessary particular
measures taken. 

Non-industrial solid and liquid wastes pose a permanent danger for public
health and environment (National Report on the Environment and
Development in Lebanon, 1991).  Frequently, waste waters are directly
evacuated in rivers or in the sea, without any preliminary treatment. 
Sometimes, these waste waters are used for irrigation.  Ninety percent of
the solid wastes are directly dumped into natural areas along the roads...
or are directly burnt without considering the consequent atmospheric
pollution and the potential danger of the spread of fire. 

Waste-Water management

In what relates to waste-water management, the current population is
estimated at 4,700,000 persons, taking into account non-Lebanese
residents, temporary displacements and secondary residences.  Relating to
household refuse, the quantity of solid waste is of some 0.7 to 6 .9
Kg/resident/day, that is a total of 3800 tons/day approximately of solid
wastes for the whole of Lebanon. 

Waste-waters are not treated in Lebanon.  Sewers of coastal agglomerations
or agglomerations near the coast, Beirut included, pour waste-waters o nto
the shore either directly or by way of a very short conveyor or a small
rivulet flowing into the sea.  Inland, agglomerations served by a public
network generally pour their waste-water into the nearest stream. 
Inhabitants who utilize their own means of waste-water disposal usually
have unlined cesspools or drill deep wells and merely inject waste-waters
into the soil or simply dispose of them at the soils surface.  A
situation of this type has a catastrophic impact on the environment in
Lebanon particularly in what relates to beach and water pollution.  The
whole population bears the consequences (National Report on the
Environment and Development, 1991). 

Forty-three percent of the population is not served by a collection system
of household rubbish.  Generally, trash collection is insured in large
agglomerations.  Small agglomerations (less than 5000 inhabitants) usually
attach themselves to neighboring larger agglomerations since alone they
cannot afford the personnel and equipment needed for the task. 

Only Beirut had, before the war in 1975, a working solid-waste treatment
plan.  It had a capacity of 700 tons per day which has now gone down to no
more than 100 tons/day.  It produced compost through a combined mechanical
and biological treatment. 

Elsewhere, waste is transferred to uncontrolled discharge sites which
pollute the air, the sea and waters, spoil the scenery and represent
imminent risks to public health.  Waste management and the collection and
evacuation of solid wastes are at the charge of municipalities which are
often small and have small budgets.  There is approximately one thousand
villages which have no municipalities, and therefore have no authority
responsible for solid wastes. 

In an effort to resolve this problem, the Council for Development and
Reconstruction (CDR) with the assistance of UNDP and WHO prepared in
1980-82 the "Master Plan for Waste Water Management" and the "Master Plan
for Solid-Wastes Management", UNDP LEB/77/033 and WHO/BSM/001. 
Unfortunately, both have yet to be implemented. 

Sea Pollution

From the beginning, people have been accustomed to throw whatever they
wish into the sea - thus, the sea has carried the waste products of humans
and animals, food waste, chemical products and byproducts, agricu ltural
chemicals, petrol, plastic bags, aluminum products, and numerous heavy
metals, consequently killing the animals living in the sea and affecting
the ecological balance, such as leading to the deaths of sea turtles and
the dramatic increase in jellyfish.  In Lebanon, the sewage has become
underwater rivers in the sea - increasing rates of cholera and typhoid. 

In 1985, the results of a study on the pollution of coastal waters carried
out since 1979 and based on 40 stations scattered along the coast revealed
considerable present macroscopic visible pollution.  The primary sources
of such pollution are the wastes brought by waste-water conveyors which
are deposited directly onto the coast without any pre-treatment, and the
wastes from marinas and pleasure boats, and wastes left about by
vacationers and shore users. 

By virtue of Article 6 of Regulation 1104 of the 14th November, 1961, it
is forbidden to throw into the sea along the coast any matters that could
infect the water, affect, intoxicate fish.  The same prohibition applies
to factories situated on the coast for the disposal of residues which
cannot be thrown into the sea except at the conditions of the
authorization for which to be applied. 

The current manner in which the coast is exploited is c learly detrimental
and destructive, both for the coast and for the future of Lebanon.  The
use of explosives destroys sea fauna, and causes other unforeseen
problems.  The direct outpour of sewage, industrial waste and household
refuse without prior treatment and with no sanitary measures has
transformed the Lebanese beaches into trash dumps and the Lebanese coast
into underwater sewers.  The removal of maritime accretions at low depths
threatens the destruction of what is left of the beaches and even the
destruction of neighboring gardens during winter storms.  Lastly, the
small coastal plain, generally very narrow at the foot of the mountain, is
already lost to increasing urbanization in Tripoli, Jounieh, Antelias,
Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre.  The coast is being transformed into concrete, a
linear city of catastrophic architecture along the coast. 

Soil Degradation

Soil is the foundation of terrestrial communities, the site of
decomposition of organic matter and the return of mineral elements to the
nutrient cycle.  Soil is the very basis of development in the natural
sense, and this foundation is dramatically deteriorating in Lebanon. 

There is a tremendous increase today in the use of chemicals and in the
use of synthetic fertilizer, all without any study into this matter. 
Consequently, there has been an increase in foreign particles and
chemicals in the soil, under trees, and a drenching of agricultural
products in chemicals, leading to, what can be described as, the burning
of the land, or, in oth er words - the killing of the bacteria that lives
within the soil.  The bacteria's demise affects the rates of
decomposition, the return of nutrients into the soil and ... thus the
viable regeneration of valued plants. 

One of these chemicals is used to kill the wild plants that naturally grow
under and around trees and agricultural products.  A competition arises
between these wild plants and the plants upon which the farmer depends for
his livelihood.  To avoid what can be perceived as excessive costs - in
other words, to limit short-term economic costs - the farmer has chosen to
remove these wild vegetation species as a whole, and with the excessive
aid of toxic chemicals, that then are absorbed into the soil and the
water.  Although the use of insect icides, herbicides, and fertilizers may
improve agricultural production and the quality of the produce, especially
in the short run, failing a suitable selection both qualitatively and
quantitatively, the use of such chemicals is at the risk of polluting the
soil, waters and the very produce supplied to consumers. 

Soil Deterioration

The causes of the deterioration of soils in Lebanon are multiple: 
erosion, pollution, and urbanization. 

Soil erosion is the removal of surface material by wind or water.  Erosion
occurs due to the depletion of wooded areas, sharp slopes, and rainfall
pattern.  It has increased in Lebanon due to the deforestation and
incorrect road construction. 

Soil pollution is caused by the release of toxic matters, untreated
wastewaters, and the uncontrolled use of pesticides, herbicides,
insecticides, and fertilizers in agriculture. 

The development of urban agglomeration and inter-urban structures,
particularly during the past thirty years, has been at the expense of a
considerable agricultural area.  The lost land was among the most fertile
in Lebanon.  One sixth of good agricultural land is already lost, and
deterioration continues at an increasing rate.  This evolution, has
significant negative effects on agricultural production, and will be
discussed in further depth. 

Consequences of Soil Deterioration

The soil is not only a natural container of all chemical elements but also
a receiver for all kinds of waste products.  Naturally, the soils
absorption capacity is significantly lost when the soil deteriorates. In
addition, soils ability to provide nutrients for plants is decreased.
When soil is lost, the land becomes barren of natural productivity. 

Soil nourishes life through the medium of water.  All life on earth
requires e ssential elements that come from soil.  These chemical elements
move from soil to plants as ions and molecules in a water solution.  Even
fish and other aquatic life feed on plants nourished by soil nutrients
dissolved in water.  Soil and water are thus the bases of plant and animal
life and therefore of civilization itself.  Soil and water deterioration,
both of which are occurring in Lebanon, are consequently a deterioration
of the very foundation of civilization. 

Current Soil Utilization

Current soil utilization is dominated overwhelmingly by urbanized land
(60%), with potential agricultural land second (34%) and wooded areas at a
mere 60,000 ha (Table 1). 

Land utilization        Area (hectares)         Percentage of total land

Irrigated cultivated            67,000                   6.4
Non-irrigated cultivated        218,000                 27
Uncultivated agricultural       75,000                  34
Wooded areas                    60,000                   6
Urbanized land and other        630,000                 60
Total                           1,050,000               100

Table 1:  Current land utilization in Lebanon, 1991

The recommended land use by the Lebanese government (National Report on
the Environment and Development, 1991) is a 100% increase in agricultural
land and a 130% in wooded areas (Table 2). 

Land utilization        Surface in hectares     Percentage of total land area

Agriculture             360,000                 34
Wooded areas            200,000                 20
Improved natural areas  360,000                 34
Urbanized and other     130,000                 12
Total                   1,050,000               100

Table 2:  Recommended land utilization, 1991


Of all the natural processes, agriculture is one of the main dependents on
soil, and thus with the loss of fertile soil, the loss of agriculture will

It is estimated that 34%, that is 360,000 hectares, of the area of the
country can be cultivated.  The cultivated surface currently is of some
285,000 hectares, of which 67,000 hectares are irrigated. 

Nearly half of cultivated lands are on mountain slopes where terracing has
allowed the prevention of erosion, but the economic value of the work is
subject to question considering the substantial investments it involves
and the scarcity of the retained soil. 

In 1988, the most important crops and productions were: cereals, potatoes,
onions, citrus, apples, viticulture, bananas, sugar beet, olive trees,
tobacco, poultry breeding, cattle breeding and milk production, market and
floral ga rdening (Table 3). 

Agricultural crops and products         Production in hectares

Olive Trees                             34,000 
Cereals                                 13,000
Viticulture                             12,000 
Citrus                                  12,000 
Potatoes                                9,000 
Apples                                  4,000
Cattle breeding, milk production, 
and floral gardening                    1,500
Onions                                  1,350
Tobacco                                 1,200
Bananas                                 1,100
Sugar Beet                              50
Total                                   89,200

Table 3: Important agricultural crops and products, 1988

Lebanese agricultural products have valiantly overcome the difficulties
caused by the war and maintained, until 1988, a feeble but co nstant
growth of their production.  However, the Lebanese agricultural sector has
enjoyed no major investment in infrastructure for almost 15 years. 

The extension of urbanization, in essence, is eating up the agricultural
land which is already of a limit ed surface in Lebanon and represents only
12% of the countrys area.  A large part of these lands is situated in
suburbs near towns which have been the bases of urban extension in
Tripoli, Jounieh, Beirut and its suburbs, Sidon, Tyre, Zahlé.  One sixth
of these lands is already lost and the remainder follows at a galloping
speed.  If strict measures are not taken and applied by the authorities,
the agricultural sector would be under the threat of disappearance in

Species Loss 

It is not only agrculture that is threatened in Lebanon; numerou mammals,
fish, birds, and wild plants are also threatened with local extinction. 
There are probably many more species than the short list I will share with
you, especially concerning fish.  Research is desperately needed, as is
constructive, national action. 

Primary causes of species loss

Two factors of unequal importance affect the disappearance and
endangerment of both the flora and the fauna in Lebanon: loss of habitat
and hunting. The first one relates to rapid urbanization, loss of habitat,
and habitat alteration. Very often, agricultural work, the use of
pesticides, and the drying of swamps, such as the one at Ammiq in the
Central Bekaa, made a great part of the fauna leave the region and lead to
the ir disappearance.  Generally, loss of habitat is the primary and
overriding factor for species loss worldwide.  In Lebanon, however, such
is not the case for it is the savage overhunting that has become the
dominant factor in the demise of species.  Hunting relates to the
individual behavior of the Lebanese person, hunting being here a factor of
the first order in the extermination of existing races in Lebanon.  The
use of explosives and water pollution are additional key factors in the
endangerment of the fish in Lebanon.

Significance of species

There are four prime arguments for the preservation of our fellow species
One is simply that compassion demands their preservation.  Other products
of evolution also have a right to existence.  The needs and d esires of
human beings are not the only basis for ethical decisions.  The second
point is that other species should be preserved because of their beauty,
symbolic value, or intrinsic interest:  the argument from esthetics.  The
third argument is basically economic:  preserve species X because Y
dollars can be derived from it.  Simply, save this specific species
because of its direct economic benefit to Homo sapiens.  The most
important reason, however, depends upon species indirect benefits.  Other
spec ies are living components of vital ecological systems (ecosystems)
which provide humanity with indispensable free service, services whose
substantial disruption would lead inevitably to a collapse of

Current situation of flora

In Lebanons small territory of 10,452 Km2, nearly 2600 plant species grow
in a spontaneous state.  This richness of the Lebanese flora is
essentially due to the general climatic conditions of the country, as well
as to the multiplicity of micro-climates which favored the formations of
numerous endemic species.  In addition to the numerous flowers particular
to Lebanon, there are species most representative of the Mediterranean
basin and Western Asia.  A great number of flowers were known for the
first time in Lebanon and many bear its name. 

Rapid urbanization and the degradation of nature are threatening the
disappearance of a number of reputed and well-known flowers. 
Consequently, the protection of certain types is essential, among which
are the Royal Osmond, the Montpellier Capillary, the Sofar Iris, and the
Pallas Immortal.  Due to road construction, housing, and other forms of
development, numerous species are being lost.  In addition, the use of
chemicals to remove wild vegetation growing underneath the tre es has lead
to the loss of numerous species.  Other plants are increasing in their
place - primarily weeds and thorn bushes. 

Endangered mammal species

The known endangered mammal species in Lebanon are listed in Table 4.

Canis lupus pallipes (Sykes)                    wolf
Herpestes ichneumon (L.)                        Egyptian mongoose
Felis silvestris tristami (Poc.)                wild cat
Sciurus annomalus syriacus (Eh.)                squirrel
Lutra lutra (recently went extinct in Lebanon)  common otter

Table 4:  Known endangered mammal species

In addition to the wolf, the Egyptian mongoose, the wild cat, and the
squirrel, numerous other mammal species in Lebanon could be endangered,
and could have been reduced to less-than-viable populations.  For example,
bats, of which many species are native to Lebanon, possibly are
endangered.  In the eloquent words of Merlin Tuttle, the founder of Bat
Conservati on International, caves and mines are winter bedrooms and
summer nurseries for bats. Caves in Lebanon are exposed to a wide variety
of pollution problems - ranging from devastating water pollution to the
controversial nuclear waste problems.  Furthermo re, bats are a
superstitious, feared animal.  On the other hand, bats are essential to
keeping in balance night-flying insects, a problem to numerous
agricultural crops and products.  Individual bats can catch hundreds
hourly, and large colonies eat tons nightly, including beetles, moths, and
mosquitoes.  Among the twelve bat species that are present in Lebanon are
the Rousettus aegyptiacus aegyptiacus (Egyptian fruit bat), Rhinopoma
microphyllum microphyllum (Greater mouse-tailed bat), Rhinolophus ferrum
equinum ferrumequinum (Greater horseshoe bat), Rhinolophus hipposideros
minimus (Lesser horseshoe bat), Rhinnolophus euryale judaicus
(Mediterranean horseshoe bat), and the Tadarida teniotis rüpelli (European
free-tailed bat)

Endangered river fish

The known endangered river fish in Lebanon are listed in Table 5.  Once
again, it is important to remember that many more species could be in

Varicorhinus trutta (Hkl.)
Varicorhinus trutta (Hkl.)
Phoxinellus libani (Lor.)

Table 5: Known endangered river fish

Water pollution is a key factor in the endangerment of the fish in
Lebanon, and the use of explosives is an additional factor in the demise
of sea creatures. 

Current situation of birds

Lebanon is a key area for migrating birds, being both rich in number and
variety of migrating birds.  Millions of soaring birds, especially birds
of prey, storks and pelicans, pass through or over the skies of Lebanon,
especially during the autumn migration to Africa.  Millions of larks
migrate through the northern Bekaa valley each year, where they arethen
prey to the savage hunting. 

Number of Lebanese bird species specific to the Near East and the Caspian 
Sea                                                                     9

Number of bird species existing simultaneously in Lebanon and in Europe 218

Number of bird species nesting in Lebanon                               57

Number of birds species which would be nesting in Lebanon               11

Migrating bird species in Springtime only                               39

Migrating bird species in Autumn only                                   17

Migrating bird species in Springtime and Autumn                         20

Migrating bird species which leave Lebanon in Autumn and return in Spring 

Bird species that spend the Winter in Lebanon                           36

Bird species that pass at least once a year through Lebanon             121

Table 6:  Number of bird species dependent on Lebanon

Four sites in Lebanon have been declared as important bird areas by
BirdLife International: Palm islands (Jazirat el-nakhl), Ehden Forest,
Barouk cedars, and Ammiq Swamp. The first three of these sites have been
nominated to become national nature reserves by the United Nations
protected areas proposal, which has yet to be fully approved by the
Lebanese government.  The fourth site, Ammiq Swamp, is the largest
remaining freshwater wetland in Lebanon.  Ammiq Swamp, a privately owned,
yet unrestricted 280 hectare wetland, is located on the western side of
the Bekaa valley.  The wetland formerly coveredmost of the central and
western Bekaa valley north up to Zahle, but has now been reduced toone
tenth of its former area.  Since 1970, farmers have been draining its
margin to convert it to farmland.  The water supply also suffers from
over-extraction and div ersion for irrigation. 

Mos tof Lebanon can be considered as a huge bottleneck for migratory
raptors and storks, therefore despite the intense shooting that
populations of these birds endure in Lebanon, it would be meaningless to
define any particular sites for protection in isolation.  To conserve
these species, wide-scale enforcement of the current hunting regulations
is necessary (Evans, 1994). 

Endangered Bird Species

Of the fifteen known endangered bird species in Lebanon, five of them are
globally threatened species: the Imperial eagle, the Corncrake, the Syrian
serin, the Lesser kestrel, and the Audouins gull (Table 7).  In addition,
the Yellow-Legged gull has been declining for a long time: 80 pairs in
1956; 50 birds in 1973; 15 pairs in 1975; and no birds in 1993.  The
Yellow-Legged gull may be extinct. 

Aquila heliaca                  Imperial eagle
Crex crex                       Corncrake
Serinus syriacus                Syrian serin
Falco naumanni                  Lesser kestrel
Larus audouinii                 Audouins gul
Alectoris chukar                Chukar partridge 
Gallinago media                 Great snipe
Aythya nyroca                   Ferruginous duck
Botaurus stellaris              Great bittern
Falco cherrug                   Saker
Aquila pomarina                 Lesser spotted eagle
Larus cachinnacs                Yellow-Legged gull
Pernis apivorus                 European honey buzzard
Gyps fulvus                     Eurasian griffon vulture
Accipter brevipes               Levant sparrowhawk

Table 7:  Known endangered bird species

Conclusion: Future Vision

As nature is progressively impoverished, its ability to provide a moderate
climate, cleanse air and water, recycle wastes, protect crops from pests,
replenish soils... will be increasingly degraded.  It is crucial,
fundamental to our survival, that an intellectual revolution arise with
regards to our role in nature.  As the great environmentalist, scientist,
and writer Rachel Carson said, we still talk in terms of conquest.  We
still haven't become mature enough to think in terms of ourselves as a
tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. 

More specifically, three key sectors need to strengthened and altered. 
First, environmental education needs to be integrated into the education
sys tem in Lebanon, from kindergarten through college.  The fight for the
protection of the environment begins with education.  The new generation
should be raised on the principles of respect and wonder for nature. 

Education goes hand in hand with information, and thus research is
critical.  Research into pollution issues, agriculture, forestry, and
marine biology are all necessary, as are the installation of permanent
study plots and the enhancement of our data base. 

Based upon the research, and based upon the current information, the
institutional policies need to be reworked.  Policies, and thus
politicians and leaders, need to take the environment seriously, and laws
should then be based on the integrity of the ecosystem.  A holistic
approach to the ecosystem is necessary in the formation of laws and
policies.  Ecological integrity, economic stability, and social integrity
should all be considered in decision making and in the formation of laws
and policies.  Once educated laws are produced, they need to be enforced

To protect the deteriorating environment in Lebanon, one should help
promote a general awakening in the importance of the environment in
Lebanese society.  It is not simply a matter of emitting some ideas but
truly making people understand, on scientific grounds, that in the absence
of a concrete policy in matters of the environment, the future of the
natural and socio-economic heritage of Lebanon will be compromised; the
future of the coming generations will be sacrificed. 

Primary References

Evans, M. I.  (1994) Important Bird Areas in the Middle East.  BirdLife 
Conservation Series No. 2.  BirdLife International.

National Report on the Environment and Development in Lebanon.  (1991)
Ministry of State for the Environment.  Republic of Lebanon.

Tohmé, Georges and Henriette. (1985) Ecology of Lebanon:  Facts and
Examples.  Lebanese University.  Natural Science Section 17. [published in

Tohmé, Georges and Henriette.  (1986) The Birds of Lebanon. Lebanese
University .  Natural Science Section 17. [published in Arabic]

Rania Masri

Ph.D. student in Forestry, North Carolina State University. 
7309 Haymarket Lane, Raleigh NC 27615,USA 
fax: 919.846.7422
phone number: 919.848.4738


al@mashriq/SCL                       960315/960315