This is the 50th issue of LebEnv. In commemoration, I will try to list the
environmental problems facing Lebanon. Some may have been resolved; this is
indicated. Many are intertwined but listed separately. The problems, in no
- Urban and rural sprawl: the construction of buildings all over the land with
- Land subdivision projects that destroy natural areas and scenery.
- Private ownership of remote, natural areas; they are in danger of being
- Poor planning of new areas, resulting in an urban environment hostile to
pedestrians; this includes many new areas around Beirut.
- Shortage of city parks to relieve the monotony of the concrete jungle.
- Road construction in previously roadless areas. (This will be the subject of
- Road-widening projects that displace old houses and destroy orchards and
- Soil dumping in natural areas; the soil is trucked from construction sites
and dumped below roads and in valleys.
- Soil erosion: caused by forest fires, construction, neglect of agricultural
- Overgrazing by goats; they will even eat small trees, preventing them from
reaching a size beyond the reach of goats.
- Loss of ecosystems and plant species due to development, overgrazing, and
- Lack of protected areas. (A problem until recently; over five percent of the
country is protected by three major preserves and dozens of other protected
- Forest fires.
- Tree cutting for wooden fruit boxes, firewood, etc. (Now banned)
- Too little forest cover. (Plans are afoot to increase the percentage
- Loss of agricultural areas to urban sprawl.
- Rock quarries eating up the mountains. (Many have been closed, but problems
remain with illegal quarries.)
- Hunting (poaching) of all kinds of birds and other animals in an unregulated
manner. (A ban has been in effect for over three years.)
- Air pollution, mostly from cars and factories.
- Asbestos pollution: in the air from the manufacturing process, and from the
products themselves. (A very active issue in Lebanon right now.)
- Cars: too many of them, creating traffic jams and pollution.
- Lack of good public transit system. (Hopefully not for long.)
- Noise: caused mainly by cars, trucks, and motorcycles and their horns. Even
in remote areas, you can hear the sound of distant cars echoing across
valleys. (Quieter engines and refraining from blowing horns -"tuzmeer" - can
- Water pollution from sewage and industrial wastes dumped in rivers or
contaminating the water table. (Sewage treatment plants will be/are being
- Toxic wastes, both illegally imported during the war and dumped in old
quarries and watersheds, and domestically produced wastes that are improperly
- Human illnesses, including cancer, caused by pollution (and smoking).
- Destruction of old Lebanese architecture, especially in Beirut.
- Loss of beaches due to development of resorts and their accompanying jetties.
- Ancient historical sites threatened by rock quarries (Mseilha), looting
(Tyre), neglect. (This problem was largely under control after the end of the
war, except for the fiasco of downtown Beirut.)
- Garbage: too much is produced, with no place to dump it. (This crisis is
being dealt with, for better or for worse.)
- Littering by ignorant people on road sides and picnic areas.
- Lack of recycling. (This was a problem until recently, but is now being
These are just some of the threats to Lebanon that are generated within the
country. Let's not forget threats from outside, such as global warming and the
thinning of the ozone layer.
Addendum to LebEnv #50: (Friday, April 3, 1998)
Incredibly, in my list of environmental threats to Lebanon, which I never
intended to be complete, I forgot to mention the important issue of garbage
polluting the sea! This floating trash, mostly a result of old landfills (more
properly, "seafills," where garbage was dumped directly into the sea, has made
our beaches unusable and has floated to the beaches of countries such as
Turkey, Cyprus and and Greece, and is a big embarrassment.
Another issue is animal cruelty. Apparently, there was a recent event where
Swedish TV obtained some footage of imported cattle being treated in the most
inhumane manner at the port. Also, I have witnessed a big bird, possibly an
eagle, tied to a dead tree and kept as a "pet" in front of a shop in Beirut.
In addition, kids too "young" to use even a pellet gun get a head start on
their songbird hunting "career" by painting some adhesive on tree branches
where birds get stuck and die a slow death or are murdered by their captors.
Fareed's Home Page (with articles and photos on the environment in Lebanon) at
(See other photographs from some of the areas mentioned above.)