Reports December 04, 2012
Identification and Assessment of Coastal Sensitive Areas in Lebanon

Following the Israeli War on Lebanon in July 2006 and the resulting oil spill on Lebanese shores from the bombardment of the heavy fuel tanks of the Jiyeh Power Plant, the Government of Greece allocated $1.64 million for the implementation of an “Environmental Resources Monitoring in Lebanon” (ERML) as part of the financial and technical assistance to the Government of Lebanon (GOL), requested by the UN General Assembly’s (UN-GA) resolutions in December 2006. The project is administered by UNEP in close cooperation with UNDP Lebanon and close consultation with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) in Lebanon.

Component A (i) of the ERML has an overall objective “the assessment of the status of Coastal Sensitive Areas of interest in Lebanon in terms of ecological systems, in addition to the identification of the main threats with the focus on land-based sources of pollution especially river discharges in the coastal and marine environments”. An extensive background literature review was conducted allowing the preparation of a database of degraded natural and cultural sites. Parameters for the evaluation of the identified coastal and marine areas included geographical, biological and cultural features, the potential and existing stresses, and current conservation status. In order to select the most sensitive sites, evaluation criteria from the Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - World Heritage Center (WHC) reports were adopted. Accordingly, sites were given a priority ranking from the most to the least sensitive. Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process, the relative importance of each evaluation criterion was derived using pairwise comparisons. This was followed by priority ranking of the natural and cultural sites using multi-criteria analysis.

The background search indicated high level of degradation in the highly fragmented and urbanized coastal zone of Lebanon. Although, few sites in the North and in the South appeared to be in a slightly better situation than other areas on the coast, still they are under various pressures including land-based sources of pollution. The disastrous oil slick of 2006 Israeli War on Lebanon increased the risks of degradation along the coast that are mostly due to the lack of coastal management and monitoring plans, and weak law enforcement for the prevention and protection of sensitive sites from potential or existing threats.

Based on the results of the Expert Meeting on the ranking and weighing of both ecological and cultural criteria, fifteen sensitive sites were selected as high priority for protection and mapped as follows: eight ecological sites; three cultural sites; and four clustered ecological and cultural sites. These sites are recommended for immediate protection and management through a precautionary approach. This should be done under the responsibility of the relevant authorities and based on the biological and physical properties of the site. Ecological sites are to be managed by the MOE and related authorities, cultural sites are to be managed by the Ministry of Culture (MOC) and related authorities, and sites with both cultural and ecological characteristics are to be managed by a joint committee which should be established in this purpose.

Moreover, this study showed the important deficiency in the information system about coastal and marine environments. Therefore achieving a better and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) urgently requires detailed data collection to improve the knowledge about the biological features and the existing habitat types of sensitive sites in particular and marine ecosystems in general. It is recommended to address high and medium ranked sensitive sites as hotspots through their preservation as an initial step followed by restoration where applicable. Starting with the highly ranked sites, each should be evaluated on a case by case basis and its current status and future prospects investigated in detail.




Full Report


  • Identification and Assessment of Coastal Sensitive Areas in Lebanon

    Identification and Assessment of Coastal Sensitive Areas in Lebanon