By Lina Sarkis (Al Shouf Cedar Society) and Jamal Hamzeh (Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon)
Summer is peaceful for the Nubian Ibex in the Aana enclosure in the West Bekaa, within the Shouf Biosphere Reserve. This species, which disappeared from Lebanon towards the end of the 18th century, was reintroduced through efforts led by Al Shouf Cedar Society. In October 2017, 12 heads were brought in from Wadi Rum, Jordan. We unfortunately lost 4, happily had 11 births, and can now see 19 Ibexes roaming the open spaces within the enclosure, climbing the steep rocks with their strong hoofs and waiting for their upcoming release into the wild. Camera traps have been placed to observe them, and this allowed us to witness some spectacular fights between the males during mating season. Otherwise they are peaceful animals, the females stay with the youngsters and the males follow them around, keeping their distance.
Photo credit: A fight between males – by Shouf Biosphere Reserve
As part of efforts to restore West Bakaa landscape multi-functionality and its associated cultural practices, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) developed a management and restoration plan for degraded high mountain pastures in the Himas of West Bekaa in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut and jointly implemented it with local municipalities and shepherds. The design restoration plan covered mountain areas between Saghbine and Ain Zebdeh mountains, and more specifically, the 15-hectare demo-plot of Hima Ain Zebdeh. The rehabilitation plan includes rotational grazing, water management, and re-seeding of native legumes. In order to ensure the involvement and commitment of involved stakeholders, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between SPNL, the municipality of Ain Zebdeh and the municipality of Saghbine. In addition, 1,150 vaccines were distributed to shepherds as an incentive to encourage them to respect the grazing plan and motivate them to take care of natural pastures and not to graze in newly-afforested areas where grazing is not permitted.
Photo credit: Digging to build cement water reservoirs for the herd – by SPNL
Workshop Discussions and Research Findings to Culminate in a Shared Resource on Increased Sustainability of Cultural Practices, Biodiversity and Livelihoods in Cultural andscapes
At a workshop held in March 2020, project partners explore economic practices and options that can sustain or improve the viability of cultural practices that support cultural landscapes across the Mediterranean.
“The Roots of Overgrazing in Morocco: a pastoralist’s perspective” is based on the findings of a study that delved into customary laws and traditions, land use changes, wider socio-political and economic changes and pressures, and suggests some key solutions from a pastoralist perspective.
“An economic analysis of transhumance in the Central Spanish Pyrenees” empirically evaluates mobile pastoralists’ claims that transhumance, a specific type of long-distance herd mobility, is a more profitable system compared to semi-extensive production in the Central Spanish Pyrenees.
Mediterranean partners step up advocacy and lobbying efforts to promote policy changes in favour of agro-silvo-pastoral systems by contributing to the development of the EU Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020, and more.
Engaged mayors and locals reveal a wealth of information on communal governance systems in Hima Anjar and Hima Kfar Zabad, in the Shouf Reserve in Lebanon, providing crucial input to identifying best methods and practices to encourage community engagement and public participation in biodiversity conservation.
Two new resources are available online: “Links between agricultural practices and biodiversity in Mediterranean Landscapes” (report and factsheet) documents cases across our pilot landscapes and the Mediterranean basin, while “the legacy of the land” is a visual tool that can be used to communicate the importance of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes.
Efforts to Inscribe the “Mandra-System” of Lemnos Island in the National Inventory of Intangible Heritage Underway
Following the successful proposal submission to inscribe melipasto/melichloro cheese in the National Inventory of the Intangible Heritage of Greece, effort is now afoot to develop a proposal for another element of the intangible heritage of Lemnos, that of the ‘mandra system’.
Results from Years of Research on Biological and Cultural Diversity in the Moroccan High Atlas now Available in an Online Database
In the Moroccan High Atlas, the Global Diversity Foundation launched an integrative and living biocultural database for those interested in learning about the rich biological and cultural diversity in the region, developed and distributed a colourful booklet on local and useful plant products, and distributed medicinal and aromatic plants to High Atlas families.
In the dehesas and montados of Spain and Portugal, as the COVID-19 crisis revealed the vulnerability of production systems, project partners WWF Spain, Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza and WWF Portugal responded by advocating for support from the government for small scale farmers, while continuing efforts to promote sustainably-produced food.
For years nutritionists have extolled the virtues of a Mediterranean diet, now environmental NGOs like WWF are calling for us to improve our health and the environment by following the Med. The #MedFoodHeroes campaign from 15-27 June coordinated by @RootedEveryday celebrates the rich cuisine the Mediterranean has to offer and the benefits to people and planet when we buy from small sustainable producers.