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Lebanon’s Soaring Birds Atlas launched

Soaring Birds Atlas
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MSB Lebanon and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), BirdLife in Lebanon, has just launched a major Atlas on the Soaring Birds.
The publication, collated & edited by Assad Adel Serhal, Bassima Chafic Khatib, Ghassan Ramadan Jaradi & Zeina Kasem Badran, aims to map through the presence/occurrence and the distribution of a group of species, the Migratory Soaring Birds (MSBs), across Lebanon.
As the distribution of a species is in constant change, continual monitoring is required to maintain accurate, current information on distribution. Such data are vital for the conservation management of species and for understanding the changes. Accordingly, the Atlas has become an important part of the spectrum of methods and programs that are currently used to monitor bird species.
The great value of this Atlas is its comprehensive coverage – It covers most parts of the country, all migratory soaring bird species at fall and spring passages. Thus, it involves spatial (locations) and temporal (time) components.
However, the data presented here are the most complete ever gathered on the migratory soaring birds of Lebanon. Of course there are areas that could have been better covered, and species that may have been missed, but these results are the best baseline available for future assessments of change in migrating soaring species’ occurrence and distribution. The major benefits of this Atlas are yet to come.
The Atlas required various data that was obtained through extensive research which included the following information: The African-Eurasian flyway, introduction to migratory soaring birds, the threats they are being exposed to, the benefits of MSBs, the importance of Lebanon, and the families of soaring birds. Moreover, detailed specific information about each soaring bird species in Lebanon was included.
The atlas was officially launched by his excellency Mohamad Al Mashnouk Minister of Environment.
“It is an excellent International and National effort, to reduce the injustice that is exposing migratory birds to serious threats. Having the Soaring Birds Atlas in Hands, presents a unique achievement to the Ministry of environment that considers protecting Birds Species on the top of its priorities.” says Al Mashnouk.
“ The Atlas sheds light on the Importance of the African – Eurasian flyway, and thus, the importance of Lebanon in the worldwide biodiversity chain. It is also essential at every opportunity and occasion, to discuss ways and methods that must be adopted to minimize posed threats, caused by sectors such as: hunting, energy, agriculture and waste management in Lebanon, and support the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and environmental community to curb these abuses that affect the phenomenon of migration at the heart of biological diversity conservation” . Al Mashnouk added.
This has been previously interpreted in international efforts through the signature of many international agreements which deal with the protection of biodiversity and migratory birds, including, for example, but not limited to: The Convention on Biological Diversity CBD. Migratory birds African Convention Euro-Asian, and AEWA
Proceeding from the Lebanese liability to protect these migratory birds, Lebanon acknowledged a modern law to regulate hunting no: 580/2004. This law states for the establishment of the Supreme Hunting Council, headed by the Minister of the Environment, which aims to regulate sustainable hunting through civilized controls that take into account the principle of birds protection. The phenomenon of bird migration is a metaphor of love and convergence. Migratory soaring birds form an ideal society, unmatched except in mythology, hence, people need to appreciate more birds’ lives and delve into the phenomenon of this migration. One of my highest aspirations to our country, is for all the Lebanese people to mirror these innocent creatures in solidarity actions and unite around the national interest, just as these birds come together around the team’s interest” . Al Mashnouk continued.

Role and function of the MSBs Atlas
• We expect to use the migratory soaring bird Atlas data to identify important bird areas, bottleneck bird areas, and sensitive areas to wind turbines.
• The present Atlas data may be compared with future Atlases to quantify the change.
• The Atlas may reveal changes caused by the impact of the hunting sector on the distribution and occurrence of migratory soaring birds.
• The Atlas may assist in monitoring the impact of climate change on the migratory soaring birds.
• Users of this Atlas may view the locations of specific migratory soaring bird species or create a list of expected birds for an area.
• This Atlas will be an asset for national plans in order to take into consideration the migratory soaring birds concerns. For example, this information will highlight many things that will serve of great benefit to SPNL concerning the hunting issue and that would help in trying to organize the hunting process in collaboration with the UNDP and the MoE as well as SPNL’s partners. Moreover, it will facilitate in giving them a chance to minimize the current threats that these MSBs are exposed to.
• The Atlas has been designed to provide developers, planning authorities and other interested stakeholders access to information on the distribution of soaring bird species across Lebanon on the same model approached for the Soaring Birds Sensitivity Map
This information can help to inform decisions on the safe siting of new developments, such as wind farms. Consequently, this Atlas would help the wind energy project which is currently being implemented by UNDP and the Ministry of Environment; thus providing them with information related to MSBs. So, the MoE will have a better insight as to what could be a hindrance to MSBs and in considering what mitigation measures they should take so that the wind energy plan does not negatively affect the migratory soaring birds.
• Habitat changes will continue to occur, and an important function of this Atlas is to record bird distribution in a particular period so that future changes can be assessed.

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