UNESCO Biosphere Reserves Declared in Syria and Lebanon

Jabal Moussa, Jordan Jabal Moussa, Jordan

So we all know that the Middle East is biospherically fascinating, but at the ongoing meeting of the UN International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere last Tuesday, UNESCO took notice as well, adding more Middle Eastern sites to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

In fact, for the first time, a site in Syria was declared.

So what is a Biosphere Reserve?  Biosphere reserves are sites recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, which innovate and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development. They are of course under national sovereign jurisdiction, yet share their experience and ideas nationally, regionally and internationally within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. There are 531 sites worldwide in 105 countries.

The new Middle Eastern Biosphere Reserves are:

Jabal Moussa, Lebanon: A 6,500 hectare area of wild, unspoiled land in the Adonis Valley that has agricultural terraces and trails dating back to Roman times.  The valley, which is on the Mount Lebanon chain and faces the Mediterranean Sea, includes rivers, streams, and many important plant species.  It is also home to undisturbed wildlife habitats of wolves, hyenas, hyraxes, birds and reptiles.

Lajat Biosphere Reserve, Syria: Located at the southernmost point of Syria on the boder with Jordan, this is the first nomination submitted by Syria to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program.  The site contains rich bio diversity along with Lajat archaeological ruins.  Ecologically sustainable activities already take place at Lajat, such as rotation grazing schemes, and landscape restoration.

Existing Middle Eastern Biosphere Reserves include: Omayed and Wadi Allaqi in Egypt, Mount Carmel in Israel, Dana in Jordan, Shouf in Lebanon, Al-Reem in Qatar, Camili in Turkey, Marawah in the United Arab Emirates, and the Socotra Archipelago in Yemen.

Read more about sustainable Lebanon and Syria:
The United Nations Helps Syria Squeeze Out Environmentally-Friendly Olive Oil
Activists in Lebanon Create Human Chain to Protect Iconic Cedars from Catastrophic Climate Change
Eco Tourism in the Middle East: Syria
Lebanon Celebrates Three Years of an Organic Farming Project

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