About Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve
The largest of Lebanon nature reserves, Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve stretches from Dahr Al-Baidar in the north to Niha Mountain in the south. blanketed with oak forests on its northeastern slopes and juniper and oak forests on its southeastern slopes the reserves most famous attractions are its three magnificent cedar forests of Maasser Al-Shouf , Barouk and Ain Zhalta – Bmohary . These Cedar forests account for a quarter of the remaining cedar forest in Lebanon , and some tress are estimated to be 2,000 years old. The size of the reserve makes it a good location for the conservation of medium size mammals such as the wolf and the Lebanese jungle cat, as well as various species of mountain and plants.
The Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is a popular destination for hiking and trekking, with trails matching all levels of fitness. Bird watching, mountain biking and snow shoeing are also popular. From the summit of the rugged mountains, visitors will have a panoramic view of the countryside, eastward to the Beqaa Valley and Qaraoun Lake, and westward toward the Mediterranean.
Government legislation, Law No. 532 of 24 July 1996 declared “The communal lands of Niha, Jbeih, Mreste, Khraibe, Maasser, Barouk, Bmohreh, Ain Dara, Ain Zhalta villages, in addition to the Government owned lands on the eastern side of Barouk Mountain” a Nature Reserve.
The Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is under the authority of the Lebanese Ministry of Environment (MOE), which manages it through the Appointed Protected Area Committee (APAC) that includes among its members the Al-Shouf Cedar Society (ACS), the Mayors of the larger villages, and independent environment experts. APAC liaises with the reserve?s Management Team, which deals with the Reserve?s day-to-day management and planning.
In addition to the Ministry of Environment, the following government agencies have roles and responsibilities that impact on the environment and the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve:
- The Ministry of Public Works is responsible for the Kefraya-Maasser Shouf road which passes through the SBR
- The Department of Antiquities has jurisdiction over the antiquities and ancient ruins in the SBR
- The Ministry of Information and the Maasser Municipality have authority over the T.V. transmitters in the SBR
- The Barouk Water Office has authority over water rights, especially the Barouk water, in the Shouf area.
The SBR needs the cooperation of all government and non-government sectors in order to fulfill its goal of conserving the natural and cultural heritage of the region, while also enhancing the well being and income of the inhabitants of the villages surrounding the SBR. This can only be accomplished through the application of laws and regulations across and between the various jurisdictions within the SBR.
In July 2005, UNESCO declared the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve a “Biosphere Reserve” called the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) with an area of approximately 50,000 hectare – or 5% of the total area of Lebanon. The SBR includes the:
- Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve (established in 1996) and located in the Shouf mountains of central Lebanon,
- Ammiq Wetland, east of the Shouf in the Beqaa Valley. Ammiq is a Ramsar site and one of the last remaining wetlands in the Middle East, and
- Twenty four (24) villages surrounding the biosphere from the eastern and western sides of the Barouk and Niha mountains.
Location and boundaries
The SBR lies between longitude 35? 28?- 35? 47? East and latitude 33? 32?- 35? 48? North at an altitude ranging from 1200-1980 meters. It is located along a mountain range comprising the Barouk and Niha Mountains, which is a southern extension of the Mount Lebanon Range. The range runs parallel to the Mediterranean coast. The Beirut-Damascus highway and the town of Jezzine define the north and south borders of the reserve. The western slopes of the range face the Shouf region; the eastern slopes face Mount Hermon and form the western escarpment of the Beqaa Valley.
The SBR includes, and is bounded by, twenty two villages: Niha, Jba?a, Mrousti, El Khraibe, Baadaran, Maasser el Chouf, Batloun, Barouk, Ain Zhalta, Bmohray, Ain Dara, Qab Elias, El Safra, Ammiq, Aana, Kefraya, Kherbit Kanafar, Ain Zebde, Saghbine, Bab Mareaa, Aitanit and Machghara. It also includes two protected areas, Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve and Ammiq Wetland, that are fast becoming a major natural attraction for Lebanon and the region.
In July 2005, UNESCO declared the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR), a protected area of approximately 50,000 hectare – or 05% of the total area of Lebanon.
A large number of local, national, and international stakeholders play an important role in the development of the SBR as supporters, partners, contractors, beneficiaries, and providers of technical and financial assistance.
The Management Team of the SBR will convene a series of workshops to present a summary in Arabic of the Biosphere Management Plan 2010-2015. Comments will be noted and incorporated in an addendum to this Management Plan.
Biosphere reserves should contain one or more core zones, buffer zones, and a transition zone to accommodate their multiple functions.
- Core zone of the SBR is about 161 sq km. The main conservation objectives of the core zone are the protection and rehabilitation of the SBR?s natural and cultural values.
- Buffer zone of the SBR is about 54 sq km. It surrounds the core zone(s) where only activities compatible with the conservation objectives can take place.
- Transition zone (development zone) of the SBR is about 233 sq km. It includes all the villages surrounding the SBR where sustainable resource management practices are promoted.
A world class Biosphere Reserve where natural and cultural heritage are conserved, resources are treated as wealth, investment receives due care, and development is controlled by citizens, businesses, and the managing authority.
- First Objective: “Taking Care of the Capital”
- Second Objective:”Empowering the Management Team”
- Third Objective:”Supporting the Shareholders”
- Fourth Objective:”Putting the SBR on the Global Map”
Why is the SBR important?
- Covers an area of 50,000 hectares, equivalent to about 5% of the overall area of Lebanon, making it one of the largest mountain protected areas in the Middle East
- Home to over 70,000 people living around the core zone of the reserve and belong to 24 different municipalities that stretch out over 2 Muhafazat (Districts)
- Boasts 620 hectares of Cedrus libani forest, the largest expanse of this species in Lebanon and 25% of the remaining cedar forests in the country
- 520 species of plants, 25 internationally and nationally threatened species, 48 plants endemic to Lebanon/Syria/Turkey, and 14 rare species
- 250 bird species, many of them attracted to the Ammiq wetland
- 31 species of reptiles and amphibians including chameleon, tortoise, and several species of snakes, lizards, frogs, and toads
- 28,000 people visited in 2004, however after the 2006 war the number dropped to 14,000, but rebounded to 40,000 in 2009
- 70 different products are made by members of the local community (women) using traditional methods, and are on sale in visitors centers managed by the SBR
- 13 permanent and 8 temporary staff make up the SBR Management Team, all of whom are residents of the Shouf region