Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve

Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is home to six cedar forests, and home to the largest concentration of cedar trees remaining in Lebanon. Some cedars are over 2000 years old. Established in 1994, Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is a Forest Nature Reserve in Lebanon.

On the upper elevations of the Mount Lebanon chain are the forests of Maasir Chouf, Barouk and Ain Zhalta/ Bmohray. Niha Mountain near Jezzine is the southern extent of the Reserve and has only scattered patches of trees. In the 1960s cedars were planted on terraced mountainsides above the town of Barouk in an effort of reforestation. Protection of the area has allowed the cedar forest is regenerating naturally. Still, only about 5% of the Reserve is forested with Cedars, with forests of oak, pine, juniper and shrub vegetation covering most of the remaining 55000hectares of area.

Between December and April the reserve is covered in snow.

Squirrels, wild boars, porcupines, wolves and gazelles are among the 27 species of mammals found in the reserve, along with 104 species of birds, and 124 species of plants. There are plans to reintroduce the Nubian Ibex. A pond on the upper slopes of the Reserve provides drinking water for the animals.

Located on the intercontinental migratory route for birds, it is a prime destination for bird watchers. The Reserve also features ancient ruins such as the Niha cave fortress.

This is the largest reserve in the Middle East, covering 5% of Lebanon’s territory. The Shouf Cedar Society, a non-government organization manages the reserve.