Jabal Moussa is an outstanding Biosphere Reserve located in Keserwan-Jbeil area, Lebanon.
It covers an area of 6500ha at an altitude ranging between 350m and 1700m ; and extends 500m beyond the rivers of Nahr Ibrahim to the north and Nahr el Dahab to the south.
Jabal Moussa, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the west, reflects a true mosaic of ecological systems. These systems broadly represent the biogeography region of the evergreen sclerophyllic shrubs and forests within Mediterranean biomes. A dominant feature of the biosphere reserve is its pristine world of steep, verdant mountainsides rising from a river lined with cool aromatic sycamore trees, to reach summits of statue-like karstic rocks.
The Biosphere Reserve is divided into a core area mainly dedicated to expert visits and research, a buffer zone where more ecotourism activities take place, and a transition zone that involves human activities and human use of land. The transition zone covers around half of the biosphere reserve's area, and its predominant land uses include: forest management, charcoal production, traditional agricultural activities, fruit trees plantation, grazing, and seasonal recreation.
The mountainous ecosystem in Jabal Moussa gives rise to a number of eco-zones, thus promoting diversity harboring many species. Designated a Global Important Bird Area in 2009, Jabal Moussa biosphere reserve hosts 83 bird species, of which 7 are regionally or globally threatened. There are 14 mammal species encountered in the reserve area including the squirrel, wolf, hyrax, and hyena. Out of the 14 species, which are wholly or partially limited to the Middle East region, 8 are regionally threatened and 6 are significantly declining.
Eleven endemic plant species were identified in its territories with many plants of high genetic and economic value including wild relatives. The variety of trees in Jabal Moussa represents an impressive diversity of forestry. Twenty specimens of trees and shrubs can be observed such as the Ostrya carpinifolia for which JM is the southern-most frontier in the oriental Mediterranean.
The essence of the forest can be captured in:
- specimens that are attractive to tourists such as futaies (dense or bright) and cepees;
- classical specimens such as Pinus brutia, Quercus infectoria, Quercus calliprinos; and
- rare specimens in Lebanon that are developing at a remarkable rate such as Quercus cerris, Juniperus drupacea, Fraxinus ornus and Ostrya carpinifolia.
Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve is a den of culture which takes us back to the 2nd century Rome. Inscriptions of the Emperor Hadrian were found in several places in Jabal Moussa, along with old houses, one of which was built in the ancient tradition of vernacular architecture.
The Myth of Adonis and Astarte haunts the valley of this ageless mountain and all surrounding villages succumb to the superstitious beauty of the legend.