Lebanon's Tyre Nature Reserve under threat

The Tyre Nature Reserve in southern Lebanon is home to a plethora of rare flora and fauna, but it is succumbing to the detrimental effects of pollution.

According to environmentalists, a combination of increasing pollution from neighboring areas and lack of adequate funding poses a threat to the survival of the 3.8 square kilometer reserve that spans one of the largest sandy beaches left in Lebanon and its inhabitants.

“The Tyre Nature Reserve, like the rest of Lebanon, is located on the birds’ migration route, so it provides a shelter for the birds to feed and breed. At the same time, the place attracts sea turtles which are endangered worldwide, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. There are two kinds of sea turtle: the green turtle and the loggerhead turtle. They both nest in the Tyre Nature Reserve and we are working on monitoring them,” said Nabigha Dakik, a biologist and administrative assistant at the reserve.

Poor funding is a more pressing issue than urbanization and consequential pollution, said the president of a local environmental association, Ahmad Faraj.

“Since 2008, the ministry of environment has not funded the reserve which has an E1 designated section relegated to ecotourism where people visit during summer time. We have no other source of funding. We lack environmental awareness and projects that attract people, but we have a windmill project that needs a large amount of funding.”

The reserve which was established in 1998 in the city of Tyre and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, is on the list of important international wetlands, which appeals to participants attempting to preserve their areas.

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