Vision: “A biosphere reserve where protection of human health, wealth and the environment are overarching goals: where boundaries are delineated, land-use regulations enforced, climate change alleviated, ecosystem services maximized, biodiversity conserved and natural resources protected.”

Declared a nature reserve in 1996, less than 10 years later it was gazetted a biosphere reserve with the name Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR), in July 2005. With an area of approximately 50,000 hectares—or 5% of the total area of Lebanon—SBR includes, in addition to Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, 22 surrounding villages and Ammiq Wetland, a Ramsar site and one of the last remaining wetlands in the Middle East.

Shouf Biosphere Reserve is under the authority of the Lebanese Ministry of Environment (MOE), which manages it through the Appointed Protected Area Committee (APAC). Among its members are Al-Shouf Cedar Society (ACS), mayors of the larger villages and independent environment experts. It is home to 1,054 identified plant species distributed over 111 families and is also one of the last remaining areas in Lebanon where the large mammals that once roamed the region can still be found. It has 31 reptile species and 250 recorded bird species. All these contributed to its acknowledgement as a Ramsar site and Important Bird Area. Moreover, SBR led the first reintroduction operation in Lebanon of the Nubian Ibex, a grazing mammal (wild goat) listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, whose presence is vital for the restoration of wildlife corridors at high altitudes. The locals living in the surrounding villages preserve Lebanese culture, are well connected to the reserve and carry out ecotourism activities.

Photo credit: ACS

Photo credit: ACS

The Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) approach has been adopted by Shouf Biosphere Reserve as a comprehensive ongoing process aimed at recovering the landscape affected by ecological, socioeconomic and cultural modifications. These modifications, combined with extreme weather conditions, are causing irreversible shifts towards undesirable conditions, all affecting human well-being. The FLR approach is based on eight principles whereby it focuses on the entire landscape, addresses the root causes of its degradation, engages all concerned actors and supports participatory governance, restores multiple functions for multiple benefits, invests in capacity building and knowledge generation, considers a wide range of implementation with a cost benefit view, maintains and enhances natural ecosystems within the landscape and manages adaptively for long term resilience.

With the aim of sharing know-how, best practices and lessons learned with practitioners and other protected areas in Lebanon and in the region, Shouf Biosphere Reserve published “Forest and Landscape Restoration Guidelines: Shouf Biosphere Reserve”, a compilation of six fruitful years of work in the reserve that guides us through the management of the landscape based on the eight globally-adopted principles.

By Lina Sarkis, Al-Shouf Cedar Society (ACS)

Sheep to Combat Climate Change

Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza collaborated with the city council of Madrid to organise the annual Fiesta de la Trashumancia Madrid 2019 (Transhumance Festival)—which saw 1800 sheep and 200 goats pass through the centre of Spain’s capital city. The event, now in its 26th year, was successful in creating awareness on the importance of maintaining this ancestral practice of which Spain is a global example and that is a very valuable tool in the fight against climate change and rural depopulation, among other benefits.

Travelling with Birds

In September last year, we set out to observe and learn about migratory birds and their flight paths. Joined by local and international bird experts, we worked alongside the Hima Hammana community to observe the birds that flew overhead, while learning from the experts about bird monitoring processes.

Two Reports on Mobile Pastoralism in the Mediterranean

Mobile pastoralism is a major traditional cultural practice in the Mediterranean and a unique example of the constant interaction between humans and nature. Being entirely different in essence to intensive livestock production systems, this practice offers the most sustainable way to make the most of the Mediterranean’s rangelands.

Meet the Winner of 2019 Rooted Everyday #MedStoryPrize

Sophia Sifaki from Greece is the winner of the first Mediterranean environmental-themed short story prize with her story The Treasure. Sifaki’s story The Treasure spins an enchanting conservation tale in which a young doctor arrives on the small Greek island of...

Greek School Girls Win First Environment-Themed Short Story Prize

“It was with great joy that I took up the role of the judge on the students’ writing competition. I was caught up in pleasant surprise when I received and read their works, only to discover their true writing potential! All of the young participants, and especially the ones who won, produced exceptional stories, with flowing language and full of imaginative ideas. I felt like I was instantly carried over to Lemnos island, looked upon its landscape, smelled its fragrance and saw its inhabitants."

The Missing Message by Faiza Lhbabi

The Missing Message is a story about a group of animal friends living in a beautiful forest. However, the forest trees are losing their green colour and the river that was once flowing through the forest has completely dried up. The animals are worried to die of thirst. One morning, they all gather to discuss how they are going to survive and if people will be able to help them...