Friday, January 23, 1998

LebEnv # 46


by Fareed Abou-Haidar

Two weeks ago, I discussed Lebanon's huge new preserve in the Shouf Mountains and the background of its creation. Now, more good news.

The Lebanese Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has opened a web site at It includes a general overview of Lebanon's ecology and a discussion on the need to protect it. There is information on the three major preserves: Horsh Ehden, Palm Islands, and Al- Shouf Cedar Reserves. These are 'classified nature reserves' managed by a project set up by MOE, with the assistance of the Global Environmental Facility and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Less known are 'communal woods and terrains' declared as protected by MOE and the Ministry of Agriculture. There are 12 of them. These include the fir forest of Qammoua'a, The Cedars (near Bsharre), a marine area off Batroun, Jabal Turbol in the Bequa'a, the Bass area in Tyre, and Ras el-Ain south of Tyre, among others.

A third category is areas protected through private initiative. This includes the pine forest of Benta'ael, the forest of Ba'abda, and the Animal Encounter zoo in Aley.

MOE has also lined up a list of 19 areas proposed for protection. In order to protect all different ecosystems, these areas would include:

  1. the bottoms of valleys that have escaped development and mountains below 800 meters.
  2. Higher mountains up to 1800 meters, including leafy oak forests, cedars, and junipers. The presence of state property would insure large preserves where large animals and birds would flourish.
  3. The highest mountains and plateaus above 1800 meters in both Mount Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains (east of the Bequa'a) where urban development would be easy to control, thus protecting specialized plants, predatory birds, and small mammals.
  4. Marshes and wet areas.

Some of the proposed areas are Qornet el-Sawda (the highest point in Lebanon), the 'Assi River in the northern Bequa'a, the valleys of Nahr el-Kalb (Dog River) and Nahr Ibrahim (Adonis), the marshes of Ammiq, Jabal el-Shaikh (Mount Hermon), Nahr el-Damour, the valley of Qasmieh, several cedar groves, and even Pigeon Rocks in Beirut.

All the preserves are considered to be in-situ (on-site) conservation that will be the core of a nationwide plan for better land use and the revival of rural areas. In addition, there will be ex-situ (off-site) conservation that will include a museum of natural history and a zoological garden for breeding endangered species, a conservatory of coastal and riverside plants, and a Mediterranean botanical garden.

The MOE web site, although not perfect and with areas still under construction, is full of very interesting information not mentioned here, including a map showing the approximate locations of existing and proposed protected areas, a list of decrees issued by MOE since 1993, a list of international agreements, and information (in Arabic; you'll need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader) about the garbage situation, waste water, air pollution, industrial waste, and United Nations environmental projects. The graphics are well-made and pleasing. You can send e-mail to MOE, this is a great vehicle for praising the people at the ministry for their great work as well as to bring their attention to environmental problems that you might observe while traveling in Lebanon.

More good news: the hunting ban, set to expire at the beginning of 1998, has been extended for another year. Illegal hunting had resumed just before the deadline in anticipation of the end of the ban. Also, the illegal garbage dump in Mansourieh has been removed and cleaned up, but the rainy season may have resulted in polluting one of Beirut's water sources through leaching.

Fareed Abou-Haidar

Fareed's Home Page (with articles and photos on the environment in Lebanon) at

(See other photographs from some of the areas mentioned above.)



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