Nature reserves are land or sea areas with an important ecological character. These reserves also enjoy exceptional beauty.
They represent the different ecological systems in Lebanon and are the pillars of rural development policy, and the best way to safeguard nature against industrial alterations, environmental degradation, rapid population growth and urbanization. These factors pose a threat to the natural heritage and national wealth.
There are fourteen natural reserves in Lebanon which occupy approximately 3% of the area of the Land of Cedars. Here are some international rankings of Lebanese reserves: There are three biosphere reserves classified by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme:
– The Chouf reserve (2005), which includes the Cedars Al-Shouf nature reserve and the Ammik marsh as well as 22 surrounding villages
– The Jabal Moussa Reserve (2008).
– The Jabal Al Rihane Reserve (2007).
The Chouf Cedar Forest Nature Reserve
The Chouf Cedar Forest Nature Reserve is one of the largest nature reserves in Lebanon. It extends from Daher el Baydar in the north to the mountain of Niha in the south. Oaks cover its northeast and southeast slopes. This reserve is famous for its three magnificent cedar forests of Barouk, Maaser el Chouf and Ain Zhalta-Bmahraya. The area of the latter constitutes a third of what remains of the cedar forests in Lebanon.
The age of some trees in this reserve is estimated at two thousand years. It is also considered a habitat for medium-sized mammals such as the wolf and the jungle cat. This reserve is particularly famous for the variety of birds and wild plants it contains.
It is a popular destination for hikers of all ages and birdwatchers.