Beginning of a project

17 11 2007

Francais / English

LA
RESÉRVE NATURELLE DE JABAL RIHANE
[1]

 

 

Notre recherche historique et archéologique sur Mlikh[2] s’est accompagnée dès le
début par une autre recherche sur la réserve naturelle de Jabal Rihane qui se
distingue par sa diversité et sa beauté naturelle. Les villages concernés par
cette réserve naturelle sont ceux de Mlikh, de Louaizé, de Jarjouh, de Sejoud,
de Rihane, d’Aqmata
[3] et d’Aramta[4]. La superficie totale est d’environ
10km2.

 

À l’automne 2000, j’ai parlé à Londres de
Jabal Rihane à mon ami M. Albertino Abela qui s’est immédiatement intéressé au
projet et à chercher à protéger cette réserve naturelle du Liban Sud. M. Abela
a décidé en février 2001 de s’y rendre en compagnie du vice-président du “Wolrd
Land Trust”, M. John A. Burton,
[5]. La visite a eu lieu entre le 20 et
le 23 février 2001. M. John Burton a écrit un rapport sur cette visite
[6]. Ils nous a vivement encouragé à
agir au plus vite afin de protéger cette région très importante.
[7] Nous avons décidé après cette
visite d’entretenir des contacts réguliers et directs avec le ministère
libanais de l’environnement afin de procéder à la protection de la réserve
naturelle de Jabal Rihane. Nous avons également informé le ministère libanais
de l’agriculture de notre travail. Le Ministre, M. Ali Abdallah, nous a promis
de nous aider dans nos efforts pour sauver la nature sauvage du Liban. Nous
avons découvert plus tard qu’il n’existe qu’une seule loi de protection des
forêts du Liban. Il s’agit de la loi 558, existant seulement en arabe et ayant
été publiée par le gouvernement libanais le 24 juillet 1996. Nous l’avons
traduite en juin 2001 à la demande de M. Albertino Abela et de M. John Burton.
[8] Cependant, le ministère libanais de
l’environnement nous a informé qu’une nouvelle loi était en préparation et
devait être promulguée en 2003. Elle inclura plusieurs lois modernes
internationales pour la protection des réserves naturelles.
[9]

L’association scientifique libanaise pour la
conservation, “Green Line”
[10], a visité la région de Jabal Rihane
en août 2000, et a compilé un rapport constituant un tour d’horizon sur les
ressources naturelles de Jabal Rihane.
[11]

Au cours de l’été 2001, j’ai fait circuler une pétition, signée
par 93% des habitants de Mlikh,
[12] et je l’ai présenté au ministère de
l’environnement afin d’accélérer son travail juridique. De plus, j’ai pu
contacter au cours de mon séjour à Mlikh, plusieurs personnes et associations
concernées par la protection de la nature au Liban Sud.

En octobre 2001, je suis retourné au Liban
avec M. Albertino Abela afin de rencontrer le Ministre de l’environnement, Dr.
Michel Moussa, qui nous a promis d’accélérer le travail pour protéger les
forêts de Jabal Rihane. Après cette rencontre, je suis allé à Jabal Rihane avec
Madame Lina Yammout, du Ministère de l’environnement, pour faire la première
analyse de la nature de Jabal Rihane. J’ai également rencontré pour la deuxième
fois avec M. Abela à Beyrouth, le Dr. Ghassan Ramadan-Jaradi, spécialiste des
oiseaux au Liban. A la suite de cette rencontre, nous avons décidé de demander
à M. Chris Naylor, membre de l’organisation “A Rocha International”, de débuter
une étude scientifique sur les oiseaux de Mlikh.
[13]

M. Albertino Abela a décidé le 20 décembre de créer à Londres
une fondation internationale pour la conservation et la protection de la
nature. Il a demandé au botaniste et professeur David Bellamy de présider cette
nouvelle organisation : “Abela Conservation Fondation/ Cedrus”.
L’organisation s’est engagée immédiatement dans la protection de la réserve
naturelle de Jabal Rihane qui représente une des ses principales activités dans le monde.

 

Je suis retourné au Liban avec M. Albertino
Abela en janvier 2002 en compagnie du professeur David Bellamy, qui avait été
invité par M. Abela pour visiter Jabal Rihane. Le professeur David Bellamy
avait lui-même effectué une visite à Jabal Rihane le 23 janvier avec son ami M.
Tim Nevard. Il a été impressionné par la diversité et la richesse de la nature,
tout particulièrement à Mlikh.
[14] Le professeur Bellamy a pu aussi
visiter, le 24 janvier avec M. Abela, le Président de la République Libanaise,
M. Emil Lahoud, afin de l’informer sur notre travail pour Jabal Rihane. Une
autre rencontre a été organisée au ministère de l’environnement entre le
Ministre, le Dr. Michel Moussa, et le professeur Bellamy, avec la présence de
M. Albertino Abela, M. Tim Névard et du Dr. Geroge Tohmé afin d’organiser notre
travail de protection. Une autre visite a été organisée le 22 janvier 2002 par
moi-même pour Madame Randa Berry qui est en charge de la protection de la nature
au Liban Sud. J’ai été très vivement encouragé par Madame Berry qui a mis à
notre disposition l’assistance et l’appui de son groupe “Amwaj pour
l’Environnement du Liban”.
[15] Un autre événement important a
marqué notre visite, c’est notre rencontre avec le Dr. George Tohmé, Président
du “Conseil National pour la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) – Liban” et le
Président du “Centre de Recherches Écologiques Libanais”
[16] qui a accédé à notre demande de
conduire, avec son groupe de chercheurs, une étude scientifique complète de la
faune et de la flore de Jabal Rihane.
[17] Le Dr. G. Tohmé nous a informé que
la nature de Jabal Rihane n’avait jamais encore été étudiée par les chercheurs.
Elle a même été totalement négligée malgré l’importance écologique qu’elle
représente. Par conséquent, les littératures scientifiques sur cette région
n’existent pas encore. Notre travail est donc la première initiative sérieuse
dans l’histoire de cette région, dans tous les domaines aussi bien écologiques,
historiques qu’archéologiques. Etant donné la nécessité et l’importance de
cette recherche scientifique, le Dr. Tohmé a décidé de commencer immédiatement
sa recherche écologique de la zone de Jabal Rihane grâce à la générosité de M.
Albertino Abela qui a déjà couvert tous les frais de cette recherche
scientifique.

Notre effort désormais se concentre sur la
création de “l’Association de Jabal Rihane pour la Conservation et la
Protection de la Nature” (AJRPCN). Elle sera constituée par des habitants des
différents villages de la région afin de nous aider dans notre travail. Cette
nouvelle association sera classée par le gouvernement libanais parmi les
“Organisations non-gouvernementales” (ONG) pour la conservation et la
protection de l’environnement.

Le Ministre de l’environnement, Dr. Michel
Moussa, a déclaré Jabal Rihane réserve naturelle au cours de sa visite
officielle dans la région le 3 mars 2002. C’est un pas très important et
indispensable pour notre travail. Notre démarche demeure très longue. Ce que
nous avons fait jusqu’à présent ne constitue qu’une première étape de notre
action pour sauver la nature de Jabal Rihane.

 

 

 

Proposed
Protected Area in

Southern Lebanon

 

 

 

 

Pre-feasibility study

 

by

John A Burton,

 

World Land Trust

 

 

 


 

Introduction

A recent publication, Hotspots: Earths biologically richest
and most endangered terrestrial ecosystems (Mittermeier et al 2000) is a
glorious celebration of biodiversity. It is also one of the heaviest, largest
and best-illustrated volumes on the subject. It concentrates on the parts of the
world rich in species, and the areas that MUST be conserved if we are to leave
a reasonable representative selection of the world’s wildlife for future
generations. (See Appendix 1 for review of Hotspots from New Scientist). The
South
Lebanon
is included in the
list of priority areas. See our Website:
Mediterranean Basin.

 

Within the Mediterranean area, 25,000 square kilometres of
Lebanon/Israel are identified as the priority area for the East
Mediterranean. This area has some 250
endemic plants. But the region is also
important as a representative of the entire Mediterranean fauna and flora. The
proposal to create a protected area in southern Lebanon is therefore of
international significance.

 

1.    
Background

 

A meeting was organised by Albertino Abela
with Rev. Dr Shafiq Abouzayd. and myself in London on 18th January 2001. Dr
Abouzayd had put forward a suggestion that one of the last remaining areas of
forest (and probably the largest such area) in Southern Lebanon should be given
some protective status. The site is located to the south of Jezzine (also spelt
Jesine, Jazzin & Jezzin). The Israeli occupation forces had retreated from
the area in June 2000, and the area was still heavily mined, but as the
minefields were cleared, there was a risk of uncontrolled development in the
area. It was agreed that I would make a short visit in February 2001 to see the
area and if possible establish contacts with local conservationists.

The Lebanon showing location of Jazzin

 

 

 

 

 

2.    
Actions

 

After the meeting in London I contacted Richard Porter
(formerly a member of staff of RSPB and BirdLife International) a well-known
expert on the Middle East avifauna, and author of books on the birds of the
region. He recommended that I contact Dr Ghassan Ramadan-Jaradi, an
internationally respected ornithologist and lecturer in Zoology at the Lebanese
University in Beirut. Albertino Abela arranged a visit for me to accompany him
on visit to the area 20-23 February.

 

3.    
Site Visit

 

The party consisted of Albertino Abela, John A Burton, Nadir
Hamedi, and Dr Shafiq Abouzayd. Due to severe weather conditions the visit was
relatively short, but we were able to tour the perimeter of the area proposed
for protection. The site lies to the south of the town of Jezzine and the area
is mostly fairly arid, rocky Mediterranean scrub, with extensive oak woodland,
The woodland is mostly fairly open, and some parts have been recently burned
-probably by Israeli armed forces during the recent war. Because of the weather
conditions, very little wildlife was observed, and the ground vegetation was mostly
snow covered. Wild Boar footprints were in evidence, but the only birds seen
were hooded crows and a kestrel. Discussions with local residents suggest that
Wild Boars are extremely common. There has also been an apparent increase in
the number of Chukar Partridge. Other species mentioned as being relatively
abundant were Syrian Hyrax and Porcupine.

 

At one of the passes there was evidence of intensive hunting of
birds – several thousand spent shot-gun cartridges littered the ground. At
lower altitudes and indication of the ground flora could be obtained and there
were numerous Cyclamen and Anemone in flower.

 

4.    
Biodiversity of the Area and Threatened
Species

 

The area is little studied, but it is significant for
biodiversity. First, it is important as it lies on one of the main north-south
bird migration routes. Second it is a relatively large area of fairly
undisturbed habitat, which provides refuge for species that may be threatened.

4.1.         
Threatened Species: Flora

Cyclamen
persicum

 

There are
very few species that are endemic to Lebanon, but there are many species that
are attractive, and popular with the general public, particularly in spring.
Many of these are familiar as the ancestors of popular garden flowers. However,
there are a large number of regional endemics, with over 250 in the
Israel/Lebanon area alone, and others in the Syria/Lebanon area. The following
selection was extracted from Nehme (1977)

 

4.1.1.              
Endemics/near endemics which may occur

 

·       
Fritillaria libanotica Lebanese Fritillary

·       
Iris palaestina Palestine Iris

·       
Iris sofarana Sofar Iris

·       
Berberis libanotica Lebanese Burberry

·       
Matthiola crassiflora a Lebanese endemic, unlikely to occur
outside coastal areas however

·       
Rosularia libanotica Lebanese Rosularia

·       
Astragalus spp. Several species are endemic to
Lebabon

·       
Geranium libani (=libanoticum)
Lebanon
Geranium

·       
Acantholimon libanoticum

 

4.1.2.              
"Aesthetic" species

 

·       
Colchicum spp. Crocuses

·       
Asphodelus spp. Asphodels

·       
Gagea spp.

·       
Tulipa spp.

·       
Fritillaria spp.

·       
Lilium spp. Lilies

·       
Ornithogalum spp. Star-of-Bethlehem

·       
Hyacinthus spp.

·       
Arum spp.

·       
Muscari spp. Grape Hyacinths

·       
Narcissus spp. Daffodils and narcissi Gladiolus
spp

·       
Crocus Spp.

·       
Iris spp.

·       
Orchis spp Orchids

·       
Delphinium spp

·       
Anemone spp

·       
Rhododendron ponticum var brachycarpum

·       

Arum
hygrophilum

 

Cyclamen
spp.

·       
Lavendula spp

 

4.2.         
Threatened species:
Mammals

 

The only comprehensive work dealing with the mammals is
Kumerloeve (1975), and much of this relates to the past, with very little data
on the status of the mammals even 25 years ago.

 

4.2.1.              
Carnivores. Throughout the region carnivores
are extensively hunted and persecuted, and several species are considered
threatened.

 

4.2.1.1.                   
Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena syriaca

The subspecies is confined to Asia Minor,
east to the Caucasus and south to the Middle East (Hoter 1998). According to
Mills & Hoter (1998b) it was historically widespread in Lebanon with recent
records from the coastal areas.

 

From informal discussions during the site visit, we were
informed that seven had been killed on Albertino Abela’s farm in S Lebanon
during the past year or so. Clearly there are populations extant, and with
protection they would recover. Since there is an alleged problem with
increasing wild boar numbers, Hyaenas would play a part in controlling numbers.

 

There are problems relating to the
interactions of Hyaenas and humans/livestock, but this is dealt with
comprehensively I with solutions offered, in Mills & Hoter (1998a)

 

4.2.1.2.                   
Cats: Felidae

Although Lion certainly occurred historically as well as
leopard, and, possibly Cheetah, these species are now extinct. The lion was
exterminated from Tripolitania in the 1700s (Nowell, K & p Jackson (1996).
Although the leopard is extinct in Lebanon, it still occurs in Israel, where it
preys extensively on hyrax, porcupine and wild boar. It would therefore be
suitable for reintroduction into the Lebanon, should conditions be acceptable.
The following species still occur in Lebanon, and probably within the area
under review:


 

Caracal Lynx Caracal caracal

It is considered Rare throughout much of its
range, and although listed in CITES Appendix II, it is not protected in
Lebanon.

 

Wildcat Felis lybica

Very little is known of its current
distribution and status. It is listed in Appendix

II of CITES.

 

4.2.1.3.                   
Canids

Wolf Canis lupus

Reputed to be present, and if so a high
conservation priority as it is endangered throughout most of the region. In
addition to the threats causedby direct persecution, it is also threatened by
genetic pollution, caused by interbreeding with domestic dogs.

 

Jackal Canis aureus

Apparently widespread and locally common. Although it does not
appear to be threatened, the increasing urbanisation of the Lebanon will
undoubtedly reduce it range dramatically, and it will need protection and
habitat set aside.

 

4.2.1.4.                   
Other carnivores

Syrian Brown Bear Ursus arctos
syriacus

Recorded from Lebanon by Ghaleb (1970),
unfortunately there is virtually no information on the current populations of
the bears occurring in western Asia. The definitive work on bears (Servheen et
al (1999) omits any mention of these populations. However it is certain
that any bear populations surviving would be critically endangered, and
unlikely they occurred this far south.

 

4.2.1.5.                   
Other mammals of the region:

 

Porcupine Hystrix cristata

Apparently
still abundant, this is an important prey item for larger carnivores.

 

Rock Hyrax

An important prey species for both
mammals and larger birds of prey. Very little is known of its precise
distribution or abundance.

 

Squirrels

There is some confusion as to which
species occurs, since the squirrel is often referred to as the Red Squirrel, Sciurus
vulgaris
(Ghaleb 1970). However, according to Wilson & Reeder (1992) it
is the Persian Squirrel, Sciurus anomalus that occurs. Similarly, Ghaleb
(1970) refers to the Pine Marten, Martes Martes, but the species
occurring in Lebanon (if indeed one occurs) is more likely to be the Stone or
Beech marten, Martes foina. This needs further investigation, as the
habitat in the area under consideration would be ideal for Stone Martens.

 

Bats

Fruit bats are extensively persecuted
locally, and there is an urgent need for both conservation measures o ensure
that the highly beneficial insect eating bats f=do not suffer, as well as a
need to evaluate the actual damage caused by fruit bats.

 

4.3.         
Threatened species: Birds

Birds are better documented than other
groups of animals, and there is a rapidly increasing pool of knowledge within
Lebanon. In terms of international importance, birds rank very highly.

4.3.1.              
Bird Migration

Although the Lebanon is known to be of
international importance for migrant birds of a wide variety of species, very
little is known about bird migration in the area under consideration.

 

4.4.         
Threatened species: Amphibians and
Reptiles

The area is rich in reptile and amphibian
species, but virtually nothing is known of their current status. It has been
suggested that the current invasion of wild boar from Israel has led to a
significant decrease in snakes and other reptiles.

 

4.5.         
Threatened Species: other animals

The butterflies and other invertebrates
urgently need study.

 

5.    
Legislation

The Lebanon is not part to important international treaties,
notably the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES), and the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species
(CMS). This is an urgent issue that needs addressing by local NGOs.

 

6.    
Recommendations for the Future

Although purchase of land in order to
protect it was a possible consideration, after the site visit, I gained the
impression that land prices were relatively high, and that this was not likely
to be a rational approach to the protection
of the area.

 

Dr Ghassan Ramadan-Jaradi offered to
assist with volunteer student biologists to carry out survey of the region. It
was agreed that this was the highest priority, and that if possible counts of
migrating birds should be initiated in spring 2001. However, there was an acute
shortage of trained personnel, and Dr Ramadan-Jaradi believed it would be
essential to recruit volunteer observers, with experience, from overseas. Dr
Abouzayd said that he would be able to arrange accommodation for volunteers,
and Albertino Abela was prepared to fund the air travel.

 

 

6.1.         
Priority Actions

 

6.1.1.              
The first step would be to delineate the
area to be considered for protection. This should be based largely on surveys
of the natural vegetation and other wildlife. It should also take into account
watershed conservation.

 

6.1.2.              
The second stage would be to establish
ownership and other rights affecting the proposed reserve area.

 

6.1.3.              
The third stage would be to open
discussions with the relevant government authorities.

 

6.2.         
The stages can also be summarised as
follows

 

6.2.1.              
Pre-feasibility study

This report concludes,
on the evidence so far, that the project is feasible and desirable

6.2.2.              
Feasibility Study

Comprises the priority
actions 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 outlined above

6.2.3.              
Management Plan

Should be developed
after 1.3 has commenced, as this may influence its direction.

6.2.4.              
Business Plan

This is probably the
most important action to be undertaken, yet is often ignored by conservation
planners. It should be started as soon as possible, once the feasibility study
is under way, and developed in parallel with the Management plan.

 

All three are to a
certain extent intertwined, but the long term future of the protected area can
only be achieved if there is a business plan that demonstrates sustainability,
while conserving the resources upon which it depend

 

7.    
The Role of NGOs

In my opinion it is essential that NGOs
play a leading role. However it is also very important that the right NGOs are
selected, and that an ability to work with governments (at local and national
levels) is a prerequisite. I would recommend that Dr Ramadan-Jaradi’s advice is
sought on the selection of an appropriate NGO, but the Lebanese Society for the
Protection of Nature would appear to be a possible choice. This organisation is
a partner of BirdLife International. The World Land Trust could offer technical
assistance as a consultant international organisation, and even develop a more
formal partnership with the local NGO, but the project, as it will probably
develop, would not appear to have need of WLT’s fundraising involvement.

 

 

8.    
References

There is a shortage of publications relating
to the wildlife of Lebanon, and very little detailed research into the flora
and fauna has been carried out in South Lebanon. The following publications
have been consulted and used in the
compilation of this report.

See our Website :
Bibliography

 

 


[1] Ce chapitre est écrit par Dr. Shafiq Abouzayd (Oxford University).

[2] Voir ARAM Society (www.aramsociety.org), “Mlikh: Étude préliminaire historique et archéologique”, ARAM
Periodical
, volume 15 (2003), pages 275-376.

[3] Aqmata n’est pas un village mais plutôt une ferme inhabitée.

[4] La superficie de ces villages est d’environ de 38km2.

[5] Sur sa carte de visite, il est inscrit « Chief Executive »
de World Land Trust.

[6] Le rapport est déjà publié sur internet à l’adresse suivante :
http://www.jabalrihane.org

[7] « The area is little studied, but it is
significant for biodiversity. First, it is important as it lies on one of the
main north-south bird migration routes. Second it is a relatively large area of
fairly undisturbed habitat, which provides refuge for species that may be
threatened. » un extrait du rapport de John Burton.
Voir
sur internet www.jabalrihane.org la
section de World Land Trust.

[8] La Loi 558 est déjà publiée sur internet à l’adresse suivante : www.jabalrihane.org , section
législation.

[9] Cette nouvelle loi du Ministère libanais de l’environnement sera
publiée en anglais sur notre site internet www.jabalrihane.org

[11] « This report was prepared and developed
by a team of four professionals from Green Line with relevant experience in the
fields of territorial planning, ecosystem management, in-situ conservation and
biodiversity. During the course of the project (August 2000), nine field visits
were conducted to the region. Using available maps and satellite images, and
GPS readings for validation, current land covers were reassessed to meet the
study objectives. It is important to note that the quality of the data gathered
during the field visits was compromised by two external factors : the
presence of landmines throughout large sections of the study zone inevitably
restricted our movement, and minimal plant coverage during August, confined the
flora inventory to trees and drought resistant plants. However, a comprehensive
inventory of plants that are likely to exist in and around the study zone was
compiled from relevant literature and ethnobotanical knowledge. » un
extrait du rapport de « Green Line » qui existe sur notre site
d’internet en anglais : http://www.jabalrihane.com

[12]
Cette pétition a été rendue nécessaire en raison de l’absence à Mlikh et dans
les autres villages de Jabal Rihane, de municipalités à cause de la guerre
civile au Liban. Le travail a été particulièrement contraignant car j’ai été
contraint de convaincre chaque personne, et chaque rencontre m’a pris plus
d’une heure. Toute l’enquête a été finalisée entre la mi-juillet et la
mi-septembre 2002.

[13]
L’étude a été commencée en novembre 2001 et sera terminée en décembre 2002. Les
résultats de cette étude seront publiés sur notre site internet www.jabalrihane.org

[14] Le
rapport de cette visite n’est pas encore été finalisé.

[15] M.
Albertino Abela a pu rencontrer Madame Berry dans un deuxième temps.

[16] Il
est également le président du Journal Scientifique Libanais : ISNN: 1561-3410 journal@cnrs.edu.lb Website:
http://www.cnrs.edu.lb

[17] La
recherche du Dr. George Tohmé et de son groupe incluant le Dr. Ghassan
Ramadan-Jeradeh est dèjà publié par ARAM Society (www.aramsociety.org), “Jabal
Rihane Reserve”, ARAM Periodical, volume 17 (2005), pages 285-356..

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