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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   The Jabal Al Rihane Biosphere Reserve (Latitude 33º 27’ 01.17” N; Longitude 35º 33’ 47.17”E) covers an area of 18430 ha. at an altitude ranging between 270 meters in the south, where the Litani River constitutes a natural boundary, and 1500 meters to the north, at Mzairaa south to the Jezzine and Niha villages; and extends along the ridge of the southern Mount Lebanon Chain overlooking both the Beqaa Valley (Rift Valley) to the east and the Mediterranean sea to the west.
The Jabal Al Rihane Biosphere Reserve is a true mosaic of ecological systems broadly representing the “evergreen sclerophylic broussailles and forests” biogeographic region within a Mediterranean biome. A dominant feature of this biosphere reserve is the existence of many mountain peaks such as Jabal Safi, Jabal Sujud, Jabal Bir Kallab, and Jabal Bourqab that culminate at 1300, 1200, 1360 and 1300 meters respectively. This mountainous relief gives rise to a number of eco-zones. From a more aesthetic point of view, such a landscape, dominated by peaks and basins, offers wonderful limitless views. Stands of old oak trees (more than 500 years old) are recognized as outstanding scenic landscapes.

The variation between forest types and agricultural crops surrounding small villages forms an infinite mosaic in the landscape. The Jabal Al Rihane Biosphere Reserve is a green island amidst wide extensions of bare lands represented by the semi-arid Bekaa valley to the East and the relatively dry plains to the South.
The core areas of Jabal Al Rihane are limited to those public municipal lands mentioned as nature reserve in the draft law that was approved with its submission to the Parliament for endorsement by the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 25 on 9/3/06; whereas the buffer zone comprises lands that are cited by the same draft Law or protected by the Forestry Law 558/96. All other areas of villages and their immediate surrounding make the transition zone that is in majority made up of private lands. However, it is worthy to note that the draft Law was purposely tailored by the Ministryof Environment to match with the concept and the main functions of biosphere reserves.

The Jabal Al Rihane Biosphere Reserve lies along the main regional avian migratory flyway and hosts 168 bird species, of which 15 are regionally and/ or globally threatened. As such it is proposed an Important Bird Area to BirdLife International. Its mammals ranging from bats to wolfves and hyenas include 34 species. Of which 11 are globally and regionally threatened, 6 are significantly declining, none is endemic but 2/3 of the Rihane mammals are formed of species that are wholly or partially limited to the Middle East region. In addition to 44 endemic plant species (about half of the endemic species of Lebanon), the flora of Jabal Al Rihane include southern species of plants that are not easily found in the other parts of Lebanon.
Generally, Jabal Al Rihane is a low populated (c.23476 individuals) biosphere reserve. In winter, this number drops down to about 12000 as the professional men and women, move to Beirut and its suburbs where jobs, better schools, and warmer weather are available.

The vision for the coming years for the Jabal Al Rihane biosphere reserve is that it will be widely regarded in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions as an outstanding example of BRs because of its success in sustainable conservation and development. Such a reputation can only be achieved with wise management consistent with the management, visitor, community relations, environment education, business and fundraising plans.
  Major ecosystem type   “Evergreen sclerophylic broussailles and forests”: Mountainous peaks, Slopes of dense forests, Deep valleys dissected with water courses, Agricultural fields, Rivers (wetlands), Water-catchments, Caves.
  Major habitats & land cover types   Rocky karstic habitat with oak trees, Formation of sandy soil with Stone pine, Valleys' bottom formation near water streams, Barren rocks and bare lands habitat, Riparian habitats, Agriculture land, Abandoned agricultural lands, and Urban areas.
  Location   Central Latitude 33º 27’ 01.17” N; Longitude 35º 33’ 47.17”E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   18,430
  Core area(s)   3178.5
  Buffer zone(s)   7088.5
  Transition area(s) when given   8163.00
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   270-1500m
  Year designated   2007
  Administrative authorities   Ministry of Environment
  Brief description   Research and monitoring is to be undertaken at a later stage by the follow-up appointed committee through subcontracting a management team who is responsible for the day to day management of the nature reserve. Presently, the Research Program of the Jabal Al Rihane Biosphere Reserve is temporarily ran by scientific people from the local communities of the Reserve in cooperation with a number of national and international NGOs, universities and research institutions. It focuses mainly on plants (wild relatives, landraces, culinary, aromatic, medicinal), mammals, birds and herpetofauna; and to a
lesser extent on climatological and hydrological monitoring. Recognizing the role of ecotourism in socio-economic development, individuals from the local communities are undertaking studies of the potential impact of eco-tourism development on the economy of the Rihane Villages. However, more researches and monitoring will take place in the transition zone to assist promoting sustainable resources management practices. They will focus primarily on the structure, productivity, function and efficiency of ecosystems.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Abiotic factors, climate, geology, geomorphology, groundwater, habitat, hydrology, indicators, meteorology, monitoring/methodologies, pollution, pollutants, soil, topography.
  Biodiversity   Afforestation/Reforestation, alien/invasive/exotic/introduced species, amphibians, biodiversity, birds, breeding/reproduction, conservation, degraded areas, ecosystem assessment, ecosystem functioning/ecosystem structure, ecotone, endemic species, fauna, fires/fire ecology, flora, freshwater/inland water, mammals, mediterranean type/scherophyll, migrating populations/migration, monitoring/methodologies, mountain and highland systems, natural medicinal products, natural resources, phenology, phytosociology/succession, plants, rare/endangered/threatened species, reintroduction, reptiles, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, species inventorying/inventory, wildlife.
  Socio-economic   Capacity building, economically important species, forestry, human migration/population exodus, hunting, livestock and related impacts/overgrazing, local participation, monitoring methodologies, people-nature relations/man/nature, recreation, role of women/gender, stakeholders' interests, tourism.
  Integrated monitoring   Carrying capacity/Sustainability, conflict, education and public awareness, indicators, land use/land cover, planning and zoning measures/zonation, sustainable development/sustainable use, watershed studies/monitoring.
  Contact address   Berj Hatjian
Ministry of Environment
Lazarieh Building or P.O.Box 11-2727
  Telephone   +961-1-976555 Ext: 443 or 446
  Fax   +961-1-976530
  Web site

Last updated: 28/01/2008

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