Lebanon Traveler

Exploring the country's natural reserves


Featuring diverse landscapes from snow-topped mountains to a vibrant coastline, Lebanon has a rich natural and cultural heritage. We tour the country’s nature reserves and take in their natural beauty

Extensive forests used to thrive across Mount Lebanon in ancient times. The country was a rich natural paradise, plentiful in biodiversi­ty and known for its thick cedar forests and blossoming countrysid­e. Though the magnitude of these forests has noticeably decreased over hundreds of years of deforestat­ion, as issues of conservati­on and reforestat­ion come into center play there has been a nation-wide push to preserve the natural landscapes that remain.

The country’s commitment to the protection of its natural environmen­t is clear. In the last 20 years 15 nature reserves have been classified, with Dounieh Nature Reserve currently under discussion in Parliament, along with marine reserves Ras El Cheqaa and Naqoura. From protecting the natural landscape and rare species to encouragin­g a sustainabl­e eco-approach to tourism and boosting the local economy, the benefits of classifyin­g nature reserves are many. "If the area is rich in biodiversi­ty and includes endangered, rare and endemic species that need protection, the main aim of declaring it as a nature reserve is to conserve these species and their habitats," says Lara Samaha, Head of Department of Ecosystems at the Ministry of Environmen­t.

Here are some of Lebanon’s stunning nature reserves awaiting discovery:

The Palm Islands

The Palm Islands, which lay off the coast of Tripoli, was one of the first to be classified back in 1992. Take a boat from the city’s Mina between July-september and spend a day exploring this isolated wilderness. The historical remains of an old Crusader’s church are still visible, along with a freshwater well from the same period. The island still thrives with wildlife from migratory birds, to turtles that come to its shores to lay their eggs.

Horsh Ehden

Also recognized as a reserve in 1992, Horsh Ehden still features part of the forest that made up the Cedars. With a unique climate, Horsh Ehden is the place to see an abundance of plants, including many rare and endemic species, also hosting a forest of juniper, fir and wild apple trees. With a stunning landscape of valleys and gorges, punctuated by the color of flowers, Horsh Ehden is a hiker’s paradise.

Tyre Coast

With some of the best preserved sandy beaches in Lebanon, wetlands that have been recognized as a site of “internatio­nal importance” and Phoenician freshwater

wells, Tyre is home to marsh birds, and a multitude of plants. It’s also the nesting site for endangered Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtles. Take a snorkel and explore Tyre’s underwater life or visit the Orange House Project (03 383080

The orange house project), run by Mona Khalil, dedicated to turtle conservati­on, which also doubles as a guesthouse.

Al-shouf Cedar

The largest natural cedar reserve in Lebanon, Al-shouf Cedar, stretches from Dahr Al-baidar in the north to Niha Mountain in the south, covering five percent of Lebanon’s land and boasting 25 percent of the country’s remaining cedar forests. In 2005 UNESCO classified it as a biosphere reserve, including Al-shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, Ammiq Wetland and the surroundin­g 24 villages. A popular hiking spot, Al-shouf Cedar is blanketed with oak and juniper forests and home to 520 plant species, 250 bird species and 31 reptile and amphibian species.


A village in the heights of the Jord, Bantael Nature Reserve has a rich covering of oak and pine trees through which foxes wander and butterflie­s flourish. The local community came together in the ‘80s pioneering conservati­on, dedicating parts of their communal lands to the nation to be protected as a nature reserve.

 ??  ?? Tannourine Nature Reserve, Photos courtesy of Roula Koussaifi
Tannourine Nature Reserve, Photos courtesy of Roula Koussaifi
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 ??  ?? Tyre Coast Nature Reserve
Tyre Coast Nature Reserve
 ??  ?? Photo courtesy of Elsa Sattout
Photo courtesy of Elsa Sattout
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 ??  ?? The Palm Islands Nature Reserve
The Palm Islands Nature Reserve
 ??  ?? Ammiq
 ??  ?? West Bekaa
West Bekaa

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