Lebanon’s geographic location, its mountains and extreme diversity in climatic conditions have generated a unique biodiversity in a very limited land area. Since millennia, Lebanon’s ecosystems have experienced significant transformations including historic deforestation, vast replanting and reforestation programs, bench terracing for agricultural production, protected area designation and, more recently, climate change. Although biodiversity and forests provide invaluable ecosystem services and support countless jobs, either directly or indirectly, human activities are rapidly degrading this resource base. The cost of environmental degradation linked to land and wildlife resources is estimated at $100 million per year, or 0.6 percent of Lebanon’s GDP (World Bank 2004).
There are 9,119 known species in Lebanon, almost equally distributed between fauna (4,486 species) and flora (4,633 species) (MOA/UNEP/GEF, 1996). Lebanon occupies 0.007 percent of the world’s land surface area and is a home to 1.11percent of the world’s plant species (Tohmé & Tohmé, 2007) and 2.63 percent of the reptile, bird and mammal species. Its sea harbors about 1790 species, representing almost 2.7 percent of the world’s marine species.
It is estimated that 74 percent of Lebanon’s surface area was historically covered with forests. Based on the FAO Forest Resources Assessment (2010), forests now cover about 137,000ha (13 percent of the country) and Other Wooded Land (OWL) covers 106,000ha (about 10 percent of the country), yielding a total of about 23 percent. About 57 percent of the forest cover is broadleaved species (primarily oaks), with coniferous species (mainly pines) contributing about 31 percent. The remainder is mixed broadleaved and coniferous forests.
Annual deforestation is estimated at 0.4 percent while annual reforestation is estimated 0.83 percent. Of the forest areas, 50,250ha are considered dense (more than 65 percent canopy coverage) (LULC, 1998). The highest concentrations of forests are found in North Lebanon (30%) and Mount Lebanon (37%), followed by South Lebanon (9%) and Nabatieh (6%) (MOA, 2003). Oak forests occupy the largest surface areas (52.42%) of the forest cover while Cypress (0.15%) cedar (0.83%) and fir (1.76%) occupy the lowest cover areas. The relic cedar and fir forests harbor several endemic, threatened and economic plant species. Mixed forests represent
17.98 percent whilst the pine forests 14.91 percent and the Juniper 8.74 percent (calculated based on Ministry of Agriculture data 2003 and FAO 2005).
to download the Lebanon's National Strategy for Forest Fire Management