Implementation of the NBSAP
Lebanon’s NBSAP was developed in 1998. In 2005, an addendum was prepared to align the targets of the existing NBSAP with the 2010 Global Biodiversity Target. The NBSAP is divided into 4 thematic areas: terrestrial ecosystems and natural habitats, freshwater (inland waters), marine, agrobiodiversity, in addition to sections dedicated to in situ conservation, urban biodiversity conservation, biosafety, international cooperation, strategy implementation. Measures to implement the NBSAP include the expansion of protected areas, biodiversity studies and updates, elaboration of national laws and policies, capacity-building and public awareness-raising, creation of partnerships with local stakeholders, NGOs and international agencies and implementation of operational projects. Lebanon intends to begin revising its NBSAP shortly.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Significant progress has been made in terms of biodiversity protection since the preparation of the NBSAP in 1998, with improvements in the legal framework, notably in relation to in situ conservation, considered the main achievement. Concepts linked to the environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainability have been integrated into: processes for gathering, processing and marketing globally significant Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs); sustainable hunting approach in the new Hunting Law (2004); EIA, SEA; agrobiodiversity; agricultural policy; major development sector policies.
Collaboration among stakeholders featured in the production of biodiversity-related strategies, notably the National Strategy for Forest Fires (2009), and the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Strategy (2012) developed in response to the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets (particularly Target 11). The purpose of the MPAs Strategy is to set national priority actions needed for the establishment of new marine protected areas in Lebanon and for the proper management of existing and new MPAs, and to define the type of interventions that are needed at technical, research, regulatory, policy, institutional, financial, educational, capacity-building, communication and promotion levels.
Progress has been made recently through the adoption of new legislation, such as Decree No. 8213 (2012) on “Strategic Environmental Assessment for Proposed Policies and Plans and Programs in the Public Sector” (SEA Decree); Decree No. 8633 (2012) on the “Fundamentals of Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA decree which requires that, before a permit is granted, all major development, infrastructure and industrial projects be subjected to EIA or IEE studies so that the potential impact of these projects on the environment, including biodiversity, can be evaluated). Further, Decree No. 8157 (2012) relates to the establishment of the National Council for the Environment which includes 14 members from the public and private sectors and civil society. Decree No. 8471 (2012) relates to environmental compliance for infrastructure.
Further, in 2012, nine ministerial decisions were issued regulating hunting practices, including procedures regarding a hunting test and hunting permit. Also issued the same year was a new ministerial decision regulating the wild harvesting of two medicinal and aromatic species (sage and oregano), in accordance with sustainability criteria (time, quantity, method), as well as the terms related to the transport and export of these species. Under this new decision, a permit must be obtained for all sage and oregano collected in Lebanon for commercial purposes.
Biodiversity conservation is addressed, directly or indirectly, through actions formulated for implementing the UNFCCC, UNCCD, World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention. The number of nature reserves increased from 8 in 1999 to 14 in 2011. Biodiversity field surveys in candidate marine protected areas were carried out between 2010 and 2012 for the purpose of establishing a national marine protected areas network. Research has been promoted and partnerships have been created with local populations, notably surrounding protected areas, to involve them in the protection and the sustainable use of the reserves. In addition, training, public-awareness and educational programs have been introduced, such as the creation of magazines tackling environmental and sustainable development issues at the global, regional and local levels; introduction of a Biodiversity Clearing-House (http://biodiversity.moe.gov.lb) and Biosafety Clearing-House (http://biosafety.moe.gov.lb); dissemination of a biodiversity database online (e.g. http://www.lebanon-flora.org); integration of environmental concepts in school curricula; organization of educational and extra-curricular programs by NGOs.
Large projects have been carried out to combat species extinction, such as the GEF-funded project on the Integrated Management of Cedar Forests in Lebanon in Cooperation with other Mediterranean countries (2004-2007), which addressed the serious threat that an invasive insect species was causing to the cedar trees in the Tannourine Cedar Forest Nature Reserve (which is one of the 12 surviving stands of cedar forests in Lebanon), and the GEF-funded project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Dryland Agrobiodiversity in the Near East (1999-2004).
Other projects related to biodiversity conservation and mainstreaming have been initiated, such as the GEF-funded project on “Mainstreaming Biodiversity Management into Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) Production Processes in Lebanon” (2009-2013) which aims to integrate conservation objectives into gathering, processing and marketing of globally significant medicinal and aromatic plants. Another project on “Supporting the Management of Important Marine Habitats and Species in Lebanon” (2010-2013) aims to enable the development of a network of Marine Protected Areas in Lebanon (MPAs) and an associated monitoring program to evaluate management effectiveness in MPAs. The project assists in designing and managing marine protected areas, restoring impacted marine habitats and species, as well as in improving knowledge relevant to the management of marine resources.
Further, policies have been introduced prohibiting tools, techniques and practices that may cause harm or loss to biodiversity (e.g. trawling nets, dynamite and shotguns, types of fishing and instruments for fishing, illegal fish size). A ban was also imposed on the import and introduction of certain species (e.g. cedar seeds and plants) and in regard to the fishing and trade of whales, monk seals and marine turtles. According to the new Hunting Law (2004), hunting is allowed only in the specified hunting season and for specific game species defined by the Minister of Environment. The main constraint remains the proper enforcement of this legislation.
The National Ten-Year Strategy Plan for Water (2000-2009) led to the construction of a series of dams and lakes to store surplus water, promotion of drinking and irrigation water projects and to addressing wastewater and water quality problems. Finally, a National Action Plan for Solid Waste Management was developed, identifying suitable locations for the establishment of facilities. Projects falling under this legislation are subject to environmental impact assessment studies to evaluate their consequences on environmental components, such as biodiversity.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
Biodiversity mainstreaming is being initiated in Lebanon. Many actions aimed at conserving and sustainably using biodiversity relate to different sectors and fall under the responsibility of various ministries and institutions. Biodiversity protection within the CBD framework is specifically referred to in the National Reforestation Plan, particularly in restricting the forest tree species used in reforestation to native species only and in banning the use of any restoration method that could harm the existing biodiversity at the site, and in the Marine Protected Areas Strategy (2012). Biodiversity conservation is also addressed in the Hunting Law (2004), the Desertification National Action Plan (2003), the National Master Plan for Land Management (2009) and the National Strategy for Forest Fires (2009). While other policies may not highlight biodiversity specifically, they do however integrate environmental considerations in general. Examples of the latter include the “National Master Plan for Quarries” (2009) and the “National Plan for Integrated Solid Waste Management in Lebanon” (2010) which foresees, for the first time, the adoption of waste to energy technologies (in the coastal zone only) which, when applied, will lead to the closure of all open burning dumpsites in the country and end their negative impact on the environment. In addition, the “National Water Sector Strategy” (developed in 2010 and endorsed by the Council of Ministers in 2012) includes an investment plan (2011-2015) covering 5 pillars, one of which relates to environmental concerns. This pillar will mainstream environmental concerns into the water sector for the protection of water resources and recharge zones, flood mitigation, improvement and refinement of knowledge on climate change and its implications on water resources and its vulnerability, institutionalize Strategic Environmental Assessment in the planning cycle.
Other sectors are contributing indirectly to biodiversity mainstreaming. For instance, this is being achieved by the tourism sector through the promotion of ecotourism activities; by the education sector through the integration of environmental education into various disciplines of school curricula; by the communication sector through the coverage of environmental news and topics in the media and on the Internet; and by industry through agreement with the environmental conditions defined by the Ministry of Environment for the establishment and operation of each industrial establishment during the permit issuance process.
Finally, Lebanon receives financial support from several international donors, including GEF, EU, GIZ, in addition to the USA, France, Italy, Spain, among others. Lebanon also executes environmental projects in partnership with many international organizations such as UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment have been introduced in urban and land use planning along with practical guidelines for integrating biodiversity.