Protecting marine biodiversity in Lebanon

Supporting the Management of Important Marine Habitats and Species in Lebanon

Lebanese Ministry of Environment Logo


Marine protected areas (MPAs) have gained world recognition as effective tools to protect the marine environment, and are much in favor in the Mediterranean, where about a hundred of them have been declared during the recent decades to grant special protection to sites perceived to contain the most valuable marine habitats and species. Embattled by the complexities of saving their sea as a whole, the Mediterranean nations have resolved to carve out their remaining crown’s jewels from the marine wasteland, and struggle to conserve them through MPA designations.

In Lebanon, there are two legally declared marine protected areas: the Palm Islands Nature Reserve in the North and the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve in the South. The project “Supporting the Management of Important Marine Habitats and Species in Lebanon” currently executed in partnership by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) aims at supporting the development of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and an associated monitoring programme to evaluate their management effectiveness in Lebanon.

IUCN-Med's role

The project will assist the Lebanese Ministry of Environment experts, local communities and relevant actors in designing and managing marine protected areas, restoring impacted marine habitats and species in Lebanon as well as improving knowledge relevant to the management of marine resources. Support is provided in the form of IUCN technical implementation and coordination with the Ministry of Environment (MoE) for the development of the different activities envisaged.


The overall objective is propose or assisst in the development of the management and conservation of marine and coastal environments, habitats and species. Other objectives are:

  • Improve the national capacity to survey, monitor and manage the marine and costal environment;
  • Identify protected sites for marine and coastal conservation;
  • Increase the knowledge and develop the proper tools for collecting, monitoring and analyzing data;
  • Improve the conservation of key species and habitats (such as endangered species, sea grass meadows....etc);
  • Address local marine resource management needs; and
  • Enhance public awareness on marine and coastal environment, habitats and species.

Action Areas

The project defines twelve sites which need to study their marine biodiversity as to be declared as marine protected areas. The scientific design of the Lebanon MPA network is based largely on a literature scientific assessment of biodiversity values and surveyed extensively through various field trips which included land inspection (supplemented by satellite images), snorkelling (tide pools and shallow areas of less than 5m depth) and scuba diving (5-20m depth) whenever appropriate. Interviews and discussions with local fishermen from various areas were particularly instructive and relevant. These areas have been therefore enriched with additional data layers representing different aspects of Lebanon biodiversity. This type of analysis provides an opportunity to begin identifying important Lebanon areas in terms of their high biodiversity values, in response to the CBD criteria and associated steps for identifying ecologically and biologically significant areas in need of protection.


  1. Identifying the national experts and institutions related and involved in marine biodiversity
  2. Inventory of marine biodiversity using the Documentation available and field survey data
  3. Produce maps of significant or sensitive marine habitats of Lebanon in the identified sites as follows: 1. Nakoura rocky area , 2. Tyre peninsula, 3. Qasmieh estuary, 4. Sidon island, 5. Awally estuary, 6. Damour estuary, 7. Airport wave breaker, 8. Raoucheh cliffs and caves, 9. Beirut Port outer platform, 10. Nahr el Kaleb estuary, 11. Nahr Ibrahim estuary, 12. Byblos Old Port, 13. Medfoun rocky area, 14. Batroun , 15. Ras Chekaa cliffs, 16. Enfeh Peninsula, 17. Tripoli islands, 18. Areeda estuary.
  4. Develop maps of marine based human activities and resource interaction as GIS layers
  5. Develop a strategy for marine protected areas in Lebanon: This Strategy sets out how the marine protected areas policy fits within the Government’s wider policy framework, what we want to achieve by creating the network of marine protected areas, and how we intend to use the tools we have available and work with various stakeholders to achieve our goals.
  6. Monitoring GIS manual based on the results of marine biodiversity assessment: Depth surveys conducted in three sites; Ras Chekaa, Tyre island and Batroun, the data gathered from literature and field surveys
  7. Management effectiveness study: to set future actions and strategies to improve the existing MPAs network in Lebanon in addition to building proper actions for establishing new effective marine MPAs compatible with the National Strategy of Marine Protected Areas to fulfill the requirements of CBD targets regarding MPAs
  8. National workshop on Marine Protected Area and Management Planning, meeting with stakeholders and partners
  9. Identify the needs for future training to manage Lebanon marine protected areas.


The Lebanese Ministry of Environment


From January 2009 to December 2013


The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), Organismo Autónomo de Parques Nacionales de España (OAPN) and Mava Foundation.


200 000 euro

For more information: Alain Jeudy de Grissac

IUCN-Med receives core support from the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucia, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

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