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Syrian Arab Republic - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Syria is situated in the south-west of Asia to the east of the Mediterranean, and is dominated by a Mediterranean climate in its coastal and mountain parts, and by dry or subhumid conditions inland. The national country study on biodiversity (1998) registered 641 species of fungi, 55 bacteria, 754 algae, 10 gymnosperms (8 species are threatened), 3100 angiosperms (330 endemic species), 1439 insects, 452 fishes, 16 amphibians (3 threatened), 127 reptile (31 threatened), 360 birds (15 threatened), and 124 mammals (most are threatened). Threats to biodiversity include forest fires, urbanization, uncontrolled grazing, fishing and hunting, illegal international trade, wood cutting and charcoal production, desertification, forest fragmentation, lack of adequate laws, alien species, soil erosion and degradation, poor environmental awareness, depletion of water resources, chemical pollution, habitat destruction, especially along the sea coast and river shores, inappropriate law application, and poorly planned tourism.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

Syria has declared 23 protected areas, accounting for 1.28% of its total land area.

Percentage of Forest Cover

Forests in Syria cover 461,000 ha, out of which 232840 ha are natural forests.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The National Strategy and Action Plan included environmental considerations to decrease all environmental threats in development projects for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. One of the important objectives is the protection of all natural sites in forests and other natural ecosystems. The main indicator used to monitor progress is total protected land, and the objective is to increase the percentage of protected areas from the current 1.28% to 10% of the total land area. The action plan is divided in two sections. The short and middle-term (1-5 years) major objectives are: a) scientific studies on the status and trends in biodiversity, and especially of rare and endangered species, and the increase in their numbers; b) the establishment of protected areas representing unique local varieties; c) capacity building; d) the establishment of a national gene bank and a herbarium, especially for endemic species; e) and the identification of causes of biodiversity loss and adequate policy development. The long-term (6-10 years) objectives are: the establishment of a national network of protected areas representing all ecosystems and the establishment of biological agricultural practices for the sustainable use of biodiversity.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Concerning the global 2010 target, all the achievements mentioned above are steps towards decreasing the extinction of plant and animal species at the national level. They also provide for the conservation of migratory birds and other animals at international level. There is some work done on the reintroduction of threatened animals and plants such as the re-introduction of the Arabian Oryx and Arabian Gazelle in Al-Talila protected area and the Arabian gazelle in Jabal Abdel Aziz, Althawra and Al- Odama protected areas. There is also work being done for the rehabilitation of Junipers, Pistachio, Cedar and Abies plant species, which are propagated in nurseries and planted in their original habitats.

Concerning the implementation of the convention Syria has achieved the following: 1. Preparation of the National Country Study on Biodiversity in the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic in 1998 and in English 2000). 2. Preparation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was approved by the Syrian Supreme Council for Environment Protection in 13th of May 2002. 3. Preparation of Strategy and Action Plan for Marine Biodiversity. 4. Preparation of Protected Areas Conditions in Syria based on the IUCN and International criteria for protected areas taking into consideration the national needs and legislations. 5. Developing the first and the second and the third National Reports related to the Biological Diversity Convention. Those reports were copied and sent to the Convention Secretariat in 2001, 2003 and 2006 respectively. 6. Syria in addition to the CBD, signed and ratified most of the Conventions and Agreements related to Biodiversity components protection such as: the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS); the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); the Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR); the African-Eurasian Migratory Water-Birds Agreement (AEWA); the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS); and the Cartagena Protocol of Bio-safety. 7. Execute a project for the establishment of three natural protected areas with financial support from GEF. 8. Updating legislation and laws (hunting law, forestry law) 9. Enacting a law concerning execution of the Convention for international Trade on Threatened Animals and Plants (CITES). 10. Enacting the Environmental Law No.50 that includes some articles concerning Protected Areas, and Protection of Biodiversity components in general. 11. Executing a project for protecting the soaring birds by a financial support from Bird-Life International agency. 12. Enacting a project for Self Assessment of National Capacity Building Needs in Syria to implement the Global Environmental Conventions (UNCBD, UNCCD and UNFCCC).

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Syria has established 23 protected areas: 5 wetlands, one wildlife, a special Bald Ibis protected area, three coastal and marine protected areas and thirteen forest areas. In addition to these there are 30 rangeland protected areas. The national plan recommended the establishment of a network of national protected areas covering all ecosystems in the country, with three nature protected areas that are being executed with GEF financing (Jabal Abdelaziz, Abu Qubeis and Frunluk.). In addition to the 23 declared protected areas there are also 32 proposed areas for protection but still awaiting clear decisions. (NBSAP, 2002) Syria is working through Med Plan to elaborate an integrated plan for the whole Syrian coast protection.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Syria recognizes the important role of local communities and their traditional ways of life in preserving biodiversity. It started a small grants project financed by GEF through NGOs to support local populations by creating new opportunities for work and alternative livelihood. This allows local populations to participate in the different stages of project development and management. Traditional knowledge in agriculture, forest use and fishing are an important part of Syria’s efforts to maintain biodiversity, especially for native and traditional crops and for breeding animals. Traditional ways of life (like nomadic grazing and forest use) are encouraged and protected through laws.

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