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Discover Bentael Nature Reserve


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Discover Bentael Nature Reserve
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Bentael Nature Reserve

General introduction

Bentael, daughter of GOD, is one of the villages of Lebanon hooked in the heights of the Jord among rocks, oak and Pine trees. Foxes wander in its valleys and multicolored butterflies sip the delicious liquid of the flowers.

A long time ago the people of Bentael searched for knowledge which they used to obtain higher diplomas. Most of them practiced in the field of art, letters, science and technology.

When the people of Bentael decided to put a part of their land at the disposal of the Ministry of Environment to convert it into a natural reserve, it was the first step toward the fulfillments of a long-time cherished dream which is to keep a small part of Lebanon away from the misdeeds of development.

Bentael Natural reserve founded in 1981, owes its origin to the local will to protect this zone, notably against the projects of urbanization. First unofficial reserve of Lebanon was inaugurated in 1987; it gets its legal status by virtue of law 11 of February, 1999.

According to law No. 11/1999, Bentael natural reserve designation as a nature reserve aims at protecting the natural environment and its related biodiversity and natural resources and conserving the natural resources (soil, ecosystem and water resources) which include protecting the reserve from pollution and degradation resulting from natural and human induced factors and managing and conserving the reserve in a proper way while ensuring benefits through regulated eco-tourism as long as it does not negate the conservation objectives.

The Lebanese Ministry of Environment is tutelage body for the management of protected areas (PA’s) in Lebanon. In reference to the law no.11/1999, the APAC is designated for 3 year terms to manage Bentael natural reserve and is appointed by a Ministerial decision. The APAC is a voluntary body representing the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Interior and Municipalities, local environmental NGOs, as well as the different municipalities surrounding the sites and independent scientific experts.

The reserve is a lengthened ribbon from the East to the West and covers the right strand of nahr bentael, on a width of 250 to 500 meters and a length about one kilometer, for a total surface of 110 ha.

Stacking up from 250 to 800 m altitude, it constitutes a zone of transition between the Mediterranean vegetation floors. The essential of the plant table setting is constituted of Quercus calliprinos, with the presence of 21 hectares of pines (Pinus pinea) aged of about fifty years downstream to the west.

The natural richness of the reserve is a reflection of the presence of different flora species in a small area located on very different geographic strata (covered, semi-open, closed surroundings, forest, underground cave, cliffs, rivers and pans).

Various species of geophytes were found there, of which the Urginea maritima, recognized as a rare species by the UNEP since 1996. Studies shows that more than 350 floral species are found of which 60 have a medicinal use, with two that are endemic.

Rich in underground caves and nearly permanent water basins, the reserve is also a privileged place of shelters to animals. Preliminary observation shows the presence of foxes, jackals, porcupine, and various rodents.
The sunny dry biotope is favorable to the reptiles like snakes, camélions, geckos, etc.

The reserve has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 2008 by Bird Life International. It is a migratory birds pathway especially for the white stork.

Cultural heritage and archeological sites

- Inside the Reserve there are St. John’s rock-cut hermitage and chapel. This 12th century dwelling is located 8m above the ground, and can be reached from the hiking trail. It is composed of three cavities. Researchers believes that the first one was used for habitation and as a refuge in case of attack, the second shelters is the remains of St. John’s chapel, and the third is a water reservoir approximately 2.5m deep and 2 m wide used to collect rain water.
- Next to Bentael village ≈1km there is the oldest church in Lebanon Saint Théodore , and inside on its wall there are a fresco that belongs to the 9th century.
- Also there are a stone sculpture that illustrate “the Sacrifice in the Phoenician Culture” done 1500 B.C.

Project under execution:

Project entitled “Appui aux réserves naturelles du Liban” fund by “Fond Français pour l'Environnement Mondial” (FFEM) and aim to strengthen the network of Lebanese Nature Reserves and Community Conserved Areas [CCAs] through the provision of financial, technical and administrative support for the implementation of natural resource adaptive management plans as well as the institutional and regulatory reform taking place.

Main Characteristics:

- First nature reserve in Lebanon & the smallest one
- Important Bird Area (IBA)
- The only low altitude Mediterranean vegetation declared as nature reserve
- Accessible all year round
- Recreational activities with multi-purposes (Religion, nature, culture)

Main Objectives:

- Natural, cultural and religion Heritage conservation
- Research and Monitoring
- Land conservation
- Eco-tourism
- Nature threats Awareness
- Strengthening linkage with neighborhood

Our Vision

To position the conservation of BNR at the heart of a distinctive and relic cultural landscape providing unique multiple use and experience

Main management strategies

Management strategies targeted various fields of activities such as: Species and habitat conservation, Sustainable resource utilization, Visitors/tourism, Local community, Administration, Awareness. For each of these fields, strategies defined the general limits to be respected in the implementation of the various project suggested.

Operational objectives

1. To conserve BNR ecological integrity through adaptive management while respecting the natural state of the entire forest ecosystem
2. To enhance the diversity of ecosystems surrounding the BNR through promoting sustainable use of natural resources while initiating partnerships with local communities
3. To protect BNR against human induced violations through enforcement and awareness building while encouraging local communities to endorse the protection initiatives
4. To promote BNR as a multi-component tourism destination through site and surrounding area development and promotion while maintaining the integrity and diversity of all forest species
5. To ensure the integration of BNR in the regional planning framework through increased involvement of local authorities while ensuring ecosystem conservation and landscape protection
6. To broaden the scope of awareness about BNR system through on site and off site initiatives while targeting various target audience and topics
7. To enhance the management effectiveness of BNR through technical and financial Sustainability while increasing the sense of responsibility and ownership by all concerned management entities
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