Forest Landscape Restoration in the Shouf: a Comprehensive Solution

Shouf Biosphere Reserve
Published: 11 March 2019
Last edited: 02 October 2020
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The Shouf Biosphere Reserve designed and implemented its own Forest Landscape Restoration Project, based on IUCN definition "the ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes. It is more than just planting trees – it is restoring a whole landscape to meet present and future needs and to offer multiple benefits and land uses over time. aiming at restoring cultural practices and developing new methods to improve the use of local raw materials in a sustainable way."  This led to the production (with a full marketing plan) of briquettes, distributed to the local communities for heating, the production of compost  to find alternative sources of organic fertilizer for local farmers,  the restoration of abandoned stonewall terraces that act as firebreaks reducing the risk of fire spread, and providing access and water for fire-fighting, charcoal production, and grazing as a method of controlling re-sprouting.


West Asia, Middle East
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate evergreen forest
Fire management
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas governance
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Resilience and disaster risk management
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Business engagement approach
Indirect through financial institutions


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Due to its geographic location, the Mediterranean environment is an unstable one, facing recurrent abrupt changes and limitations over time. The main challenge regarding climate change in the Mediterranean region will be the increase in frequency, magnitude and severity of extreme weather events: drought periods, heat weaves, annual rainfall concentrated in short periods of heavy precipitation events, strong winds. The consequences of such changes can be large-scale forest fires, massive forest dieback and pests, the expansion of invasive species, and large-scale floods leading to land degradation and desertification, and the massive loss of native flora and fauna. Unsustainable use of resources is another challenge: the illegal logging of trees for heating- with the impact of the ongoing economic crisis, unsustainable use of ground and surface water, in addition to overgrazing caused by the decline of traditional transhumance systems and land tenure issues.


The direct beneficiaries are the local population of 22 villages in the development zone of the PA, a rural mountainous area. They use traditional fuel stoves for heating, but can resort to illegal wood logging when fuel becomes too expensive.

How do the building blocks interact?

The project identified a basket of interventions aimed at sustainable environmental management within the Reserve. They include both the improved management of ecological habitat under traditional use, and improved use  of resources. The building blocks complement each other and here is a description of how they work: The project undertook some tests involving the thinning that produced excellent results, clearing the forest structure and thereby encouraging the growth of more vigorous and healthier remaining shoots. The size of the annual thinned area was determined. Professional chainsaws were used for this purpose. The first step was the thinning of the trees, which is a manual operation, followed by the shredding with special machines. The shreds would then go into composting, charcoal production,  or the fabrication of the briquette. The marketing plan is needed for the development of the production. As for the restoration of the stonewall terraces, it is an adjacent activity since these terraces act as firebreaks reducing the risk of fire spread, and providing access and water for firefighting.  

This is how  the comprehensive solution is achieved!


The solution promoted a climate-resilient and economically viable use of the forest and agriculture biomass whose excessive load or post harvesting burning by farmers increased climate-related risks in the rural landscape, namely the forest fires that devastate large areas of Lebanon every year. It also contributed to the reduction of CO2 emissions from fossil energy consumption and the burning of forests and agriculture waste. The biomass management increased the capacity of forest ecosystems to adapt to climate change with a reduced competition for the scarce water resources in the thinned forest stands and healthier forest stands that can store higher quantities of carbon. Finally yet importantly, it reduced energy cost and increased local employment and local business around energy production.

That is to say that the development of biomass generates jobs in rural areas, which helps to keep the population in these areas and to promote industrial development.


Shouf Biosphere Reserve

This was made possible thanks to the support of The Italian Cooperation in Lebanon and the MAVA Foundation. It was realized in cooperation with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (Jordan), Wadi Rum Protected Area and Istituto Oikos (Italy). 

The Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) is an iconic representative of the native original wildlife of the Middle East, which is now extinct in most of its former distribution range. The reintroduction of the Ibex in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve represented an important conservation milestone, which will provide numerous direct and indirect benefits not only in terms of landscape functionality and ecological processes, but also to boost the growth of a green economy in the region, to the benefit of local communities and the traditional agro-silvo-pastoral cultural values of the area and of Lebanon at large.

 On October 13th, 2017, the first step of the reintroduction of the Nubian Ibex took place, with the translocation of a founding herd from Wadi Rum Protected Area to the Shouf Biosphere Reserve. A total of 12 Ibex - 8 females and 4 males - were separated from their mates and kept for some time in a fenced enclosure (quarantine). The ability of the selected animals to bear the transfer process was evaluated by local experts of Wadi Rum. The 12 specimens were then transferred into a corral to undergo a veterinary examination and to be equipped with internal microchips and ear tags to facilitate their identification.

Then the 12 Nubian Ibex were put in special  boxes  specifically built for this purpose, following standard international guidelines.The boxes with the animals were loaded on two flights from the Lebanese air carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA), and eventually landed in Beirut Airport by the evening of the same day. The staff of the Shouf Cedar Reserve and a representative of the Italian Embassy in Beirut welcomed the Ibex the accompanying Wadi Rum team. After checking the good health of each animal and clearing the customs procedures, the four cages were transferred onto two trucks for the last bit of the journey, from Beirut to the village of Aana, in the Beqaa Valley. By midnight, the convoy reached destination, the cages were carried inside the enclosure and the animals were set free into their new, provisional home in the Aana adaptation fence. They will be monitored and observed until thr time for their relaease comes.

Proud to be writing the history of nature conservation in Lebanon!


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Lina Sarkis

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Shouf Biosphere Reserve