Shouf Biosphere Reserve, Lebanon’s Largest Nature Cedar Reserve!
In July 2005, UNESCO declared the “Al-Shouf” Cedar Nature Reserve a “Biosphere Reserve” with an area of approximately 50,000 hectares – or 5% of the total area of “Lebanon”.
It includes the:
i) “Al-Shouf” Cedar Nature Reserve (established in 1996) and located in the “Shouf” mountains of central “Lebanon”. It encloses the cedar forests of “Maasser El Shouf”, “Barouk”, and “Ain Zhalta” / “Bmohray”, which form its core zone.
ii) “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 iii) 22 villages surrounding the Nature Reserve from the eastern and western sides of the “Barouk” and “Niha” mountains.
The “Shouf Biosphere Reserve” is active in the fields of scientific research and monitoring, rural development, environmental awareness, conservation of resources, and ecotourism.
Ecological Value: A quick look at its ecological value will tell us that the “Shouf Biosphere Reserve” hosts one of the largest stands of Lebanese Cedar (Cedrus libani) in “Lebanon”. It is also a crossroads for bird migration, strategically located on the routes between “Europe”, “Africa”, and “West Asia”. The reserve is home to large numbers of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and plants, many of which are endemic, rare and threatened.
To name but a few there is the rock hyrax, the hyena, the wolf, the partridge, in addition to the highly valuable oregano, the colorful orchids and many others (www.shoufcedar.org)
Ecotourism: Locals are well connected to the reserve, and are part of the ecotourism activities as either guides or rangers. They also host local and international tourists, inviting them to savor traditional products and giving them the ‘flair’ of the Biosphere Reserve in eco-friendly guesthouses and tables d’hotes where local products are served. As for the visitors, they can enjoy hiking, bike rides, snowshoeing in winter, simple village tours, and local festivals.
Wandering through #Ain_Zhalta #shouf Cedar reserve