22 September 2017 was an important day for SPNL welcoming Anfeh’s municipal council decree to declare the village and its sea as Hima.
Anfeh is located on the coast of northern Lebanon and is 15 km south of Tripoli and 71 km north of Beirut. The town is extended to the west by a 400-meter promontory, oriented on an east–west axis. Standing about 14 m above sea level, the site has visible Greco-Roman and medieval remains everywhere. Basins, vaults, presses, tanks and quarry pipes, and the remains of mosaic pavements on top of the promontory. Several other mosaics reported by local residents have been uncovered in various locations underneath the modern town, which extends further south of the promontory.
The municipal council was proactive in declaring the Anfeh municipal land and sea as Hima for sustainable use such as ecotourism, responsible hunting, fishing, and grazing.
Commenting on the establishment of the Hima, Assad Serhal, SPNL Director General said that
the municipal council of Anfeh Hima accord will help SPNL and its partners to increase the awareness of the importance of cultural heritage (on-land and maritime aspects of culture) by promoting the value of Anfeh’s natural environment, safeguarding the authentically unique, traditional and irreplaceable character of Anfeh, building rapport with the local community, creating job opportunities, enhancing and promoting local facilities, fisheries and guest houses, and training local guides to grasp the historical developments of their town.
The ultimate objective of the Hima accord is to advance and implement a sustainable development program for both Anfeh and its local community.
The revival of the Hima system is empowering communities to take responsibility for managing local resources. This approach is being championed by the Society for Protection of Nature in Lebanon (BirdLife in Lebanon) and is helping to build capacity for local economic enterprises, linked to the wildlife and landscape conservation.
Over the last 60 years, the Hima community-based approach to conservation has declined and been replaced by the centralised governmental management of natural resources. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) is currently leading the revival of the Hima approach for the conservation of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in collaboration with elected local authorities.
Since 2004, the SPNL has helped to establish 18 Himas in six Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBBAs) , many of these Himas convey a spiritual and religious significance.
Since 2011, Nadine Panayot Haroun, the Director Department of Archaeology and Museology, is leading a terrestrial and maritime archaeological and ethnographical survey and excavation project in Anfeh, Lebanon. The purpose is to promote the use and the conservation of tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage as a necessary tool for ecotourism and sustainable development.
Haroun published a scientific study in the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology
and Heritage Studies, vol. 3, no. 4, 2015, describes how the site of Anfeh, Lebanon, which played an important role in the economy of the northern Levant from the Late Bronze Age to the Ottoman period and is currently on the World Monuments Watch List, was researched, surveyed, and excavated. The international rescue excavation and survey of Anfeh is directed toward reconstructing its entire history using recent archaeological data obtained from surveys and excavations, oral histories, and written sources.
The still-visible remains attest to continuous human activity at Anfeh and are protected by salt marshes— now abandoned—which used to be highly productive between the 1940s and 1990s. Threatened by a port expansion project, Anfeh was included in the World Monument Fund’s World Monuments Watch List for 1998–1999. Although this project has been suspended, the site is still in a precarious state.