The Establishment of the Jabal Rihane Nature Reserve
In the fall of 2000, I spoke in London about Jabal Rihane to my friend Mr. Albertino Abela who immediately took an interest in the project and sought to protect this nature reserve of South Lebanon. Mr. Abela decided in February 2001 to go there together with the vice-president of the “World Land Trust”, Mr. John A. Burton. The visit took place between February 20 and 23, 2001. Mr. John Burton wrote a report on this visit. They urged us to act as quickly as possible to protect this very important region. We decided after this visit to maintain regular and direct contacts with the Lebanese Ministry of Environment to proceed with the protection of the Jabal Rihane Nature Reserve. We also briefed the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture on our work, and Minister Ali Abdallah promised to help us in our efforts to save Jabal Rihane Nature Reserve. We discovered later that there is only one forest protection law in Lebanon. This is Law 558, which exists only in Arabic and was published by the Lebanese Government on July 24, 1996. We translated it in June 2001 at the request of Mr. Albertino Abela and Mr. John Burton. However, the Lebanese Ministry of the Environment informed us that a new law was being drafted and was to be promulgated in 2003. It will include several modern international laws for the protection of Nature Reserves.
The Lebanese Conservation Science Association, “Green Line”, visited the Jabal Rihane region in August 2000, and compiled a report providing an overview of Jabal Rihane’s natural resources.
In the summer of 2001, I circulated a petition, signed by 93% of Mlik residents, and presented it to the Ministry of the Environment to speed up its legal work. In addition, I was able to contact during my stay in Mlikh, several people and associations concerned with the protection of nature in South Lebanon.