Introduction

About Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve 


Jabal Moussa is an outstanding Biosphere Reserve located in Keserwan-Jbeil area, Lebanon.

 

It covers an area of 6500ha at an altitude ranging between 350m and 1700m ; and extends 500m beyond the rivers of Nahr Ibrahim to the north and Nahr el Dahab to the south.

Jabal Moussa, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the west, reflects a true mosaic of ecological systems. These systems broadly represent the biogeography region of the evergreen sclerophyllic shrubs and forests within Mediterranean biomes. A dominant feature of the biosphere reserve is its pristine world of steep, verdant mountainsides rising from a river lined with cool aromatic sycamore trees, to reach summits of statue-like karstic rocks.

  

The Biosphere Reserve is divided into a core area mainly dedicated to expert visits and research, a buffer zone where more ecotourism activities take place, and a transition zone that involves human activities and human use of land. The transition zone covers around half of the biosphere reserve's area, and its predominant land uses include: forest management, charcoal production, traditional agricultural activities, fruit trees plantation, grazing, and seasonal recreation.

Fauna:


The mountainous ecosystem in Jabal Moussa gives rise to a number of eco-zones, thus promoting diversity harboring many species. Designated a Global Important Bird Area in 2009, Jabal Moussa biosphere reserve hosts 83 bird species, of which 7 are regionally or globally threatened.  There are 14 mammal species encountered in the reserve area including the squirrel, wolf, hyrax, and hyena. Out of the 14 species, which are wholly or partially limited to the Middle East region, 8 are regionally threatened and 6 are significantly declining.




Flora:

Eleven endemic plant species were identified in its territories with many plants of high genetic and economic value including wild relatives. The variety of trees in Jabal Moussa represents an impressive diversity of forestry. Twenty specimens of trees and shrubs can be observed such as the Ostrya carpinifolia for which JM is the southern-most frontier in the oriental Mediterranean. 

The essence of the forest can be captured in:
- specimens that are attractive to tourists such as futaies (dense or bright) and cepees;
 
- classical specimens such as Pinus brutia, Quercus infectoria, Quercus calliprinos; and
- rare specimens in Lebanon that are developing at a remarkable rate such as Quercus cerris, Juniperus drupacea, Fraxinus ornus and Ostrya carpinifolia.

 

Cultural heritage:


Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve is a den of culture which takes us back to the 2nd century Rome. Inscriptions of the Emperor Hadrian were found in several places in Jabal Moussa, along with old houses, one of which was built in the ancient tradition of vernacular architecture.

The Myth of Adonis and Astarte haunts the valley of this ageless mountain and all surrounding villages succumb to the superstitious beauty of the legend.

 

Surrounded by Nahr Ibrahim and Nahr Ed-Dahab rivers, and located 50 km away from the capital Beirut, Jabal Moussa was designated in 2009 as the 3rd biosphere reserve in Lebanon as part of the UNESCO Network of Biosphere Reserves under Man & Biosphere (MAB) program. Jabal Moussa Mountain had already received the designation of Protected Forest through a Ministry of Agriculture decision in 2008.
It is a mountainous forest covering an area of 6500 ha and encompassing a rare combination of rich natural and cultural heritage. It is renowned for its unspoiled nature with mixed forests of oak, pine, juniper and hop-hornbeam as well as many economically important plant species and rare flowers (more than 600 flora species identified so far), as well as undisturbed wildlife. The Reserve hosts 23 species of mammals (identified to this date).The protected area presents a variety of migratory and soaring birds, where it is home to more than 83 bird species , leading to its  designation as a global Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Birdlife International .
The cultural heritage present in the mountain, such as parts of the old Roman road and Hadrian inscriptions as well as the old houses and cisterns, make this place a unique melting pot of biodiversity and history.
APJM (Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa) was founded in 2007 with the aim to conserve the biodiversity and preserve the cultural heritage of Jabal Moussa Mountain and its villages through involving local communities in order to achieve sustainable development.
The association has recorded many achievements since its creation in 2007 such as establishing an Ecotourism infrastructure, developing nurseries to preserve valuable endemic species of the mountain and building the capacities of local community.