Terrestrial Biodiversity

Reports indicate that 81% of the floral species are terrestrial; out of which 8.5% are endemic (221 species), 1.3% are rare (34 species) and 2.7% are threatened (69 species) (SOER, 2010). Endemism in Lebanon is significant, owing to its geomorphologic diversity and the isolation effect of its diverse topography. Lebanon has a high percentage (12%) of endemic plant species. Analyses show that most of the endemic species are located on the high summits of the two mountain ranges, specifically at Mount Makmel, Mount Sannine, Qammoua, Ehden and Mount Hermon. The isolation that characterizes these summits renders the alpine uplands a reservoir for endemic species. Consequently, more than one hundred species specific to Mount Hermon and the Anti-Lebanon Range have been counted (Medail and Quezel, 1997). A Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands found 224 species (10.8%) plants of economic importance distributed in Lebanon (SEPASAL, 1999). Analyses (BCS, 1996) show that 46% of faunal species are terrestrial and that 7 mammal species are already extinct, 31% of the existing mammals are rare, 20% vulnerable and 7.5% are close to extinction species.

In terms of avifauna, Lebanon has recorded 394 species, out of which two (Lesser Crested Ternand Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eater) are extirpated from Lebanon, 6.3% are threatened and 32% are rare. According to the IUCN 2007 Red List, the threatened bird species of Lebanon include 2 endangered, 8 vulnerable and 15 near threatened species (Ramadan-Jaradi et al., 2008).

Lebanon encompasses important components of the Mediterranean vegetation (MadroneSt. John’s Bread, Atlas Pistache, Bishop Pine, Black Oak and Grecian Laurel) which are relicts from the ancient forests that dominated the Mediterranean Basin two million years ago and represent the past and present climax of the country. Notable keystone and flag plant species in the country is the famous Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) that has been exploited since the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent. Thus, Lebanon is known for its forests which occupy 13% of the territory while Other Wooded Land (OWL) cover 10% (FAO, 2010). About 65% of the total canopy coverage is considered dense (LULC, 1998) with the highest concentrations found in North Lebanon (30%) and Mount Lebanon (37%), followed by South Lebanon (9%) and Nabatieh (6%) (MoA, 2003). Oak forests occupy the largest forests’ surface areas (52.42%) while Cypress (0.15%) Cedar (0.83%) and Fir (1.76%) occupy the lowest cover areas. The relic Cedar and Fir forests host several endemic, threatened and economic plant species. Mixed forests represent 17.98% whilst the Pine forests 14.91% and the Juniper 8.74%(MoE, 2012-a).