For eight decades now, Lebanon has been designating protected areas and sites to conserve its nature. The responsibility to conserve and designate protected areas initially fell under the Ministry of National Economy, but the responsibility is now under the jurisdiction of several agencies including ministries of Agriculture, Environment, and water and energy. Protected areas are land or sea areas dedicated to the protection and maintenance of the biodiversity and are managed through legal means while nature reserves are also protected sites with the highest value for natural habitat and species for endangered or rare plants and animals. Lebanon has more than 15 nature reserves and protected areas.
The Aammiq Wetland is the largest existing freshwater wetland within the nation of Lebanon. The wetland is part of the water marsh and lakes that once formed part of the Bekaa Valley in Beqaa Governorate. The Aammiq Wetland lies in one of the significant birds’ migration route with over 250 species of birds recorded. The wetland is also home to several animals including 23 mammal species, 5 species of amphibians, and 12 species of reptiles. The Aammiq Wetland receives rains between December and March with its waters being free from any pollution. Grazing land, drainage ditches, and avenues of trees around the wetland adds to its diversity of the habitat in the area.
Abraham River Gorge Valley
Also known as the Adonis River, the Abraham River Gorge Valley is in the Mount Lebanon Governorate. The river measures 23 kilometers in length, and it emerges from the Afqa Grotto which is 1,500 meters above sea level. Abraham River passes through the town of Nahr Ibrahim and empties its waters into the Mediterranean Sea. The river flow turns red around the month of February because of the volumes of soils washed off the mountain by the winter rains. The community around the river believes that the red flow is as a result of the killing of the god of love near the river by Ares, the god of war. There are temple ruins and shrines around the river. The locals believe that the sick can be cured if their clothes are hanged at the ruined temples.
Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve
The Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is located along Barouk Mountain with an estimated land coverage of 550 square kilometers. The Cedar Nature Reserve is an important area for birds and hosts 33 mammal species, 500 amphibian species, and 200 bird species. The nature reserve is historically considered a place of many cultures, religions, and other historic events. The historic sites in Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve include Qalaat Niha, El Nabi Ayoub, Qab Elias Castle, and Mazar El Sit.
Horsh Arz el-Rab - Forest of the Cedars of God
The Cedars of God is a vestige of the once massive forests filled with the Lebanon Cedar that existed within the area on and around Mount Lebanon. The Mount Lebanon was once a thick forest but due to deforestation, the forests have been reduced significantly. The name “Cedar of God” was given to forest in reference to the cedar timber Solomon of the bible used to build the temple in Jerusalem. Cedar of God was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1998 due to its cultural significance. The forest is currently a highly protected area. The process of reforestation of the site was initiated in 1985 by the Committee of the Friends of the Cedar Forest to restore the forest image.