As part of the MAVA Foundation’s recently launched 2016-2022 strategy, 15 partners in the Mediterranean are collaborating to implement a 6-year programme aimed at conserving Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes (M6 partnership). At the core of the M6 partnership are 4 pilot sites where 6-year field projects to conserve Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes have recently been launched, each led by a local implementing partner. These are: the Shouf Mountains in Lebanon, the Island of Lemnos in Greece, the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and the Dehesas and Montados Grasslands in Spain and Portugal.
Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) and Al Shouf Cedar Society (ACS) will be working together on a symbolic and pilot sites in the Shouf Mountain and West Beqaa in Lebanon.
Shouf Mountain, is a biodiversity hotspot in terms of plant richness and endemism – it belongs to the major plant endemism areas in the Mediterranean region with >10% range-restricted endemics. The Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is located at an altitudinal range of about 1000-1980 metres in the southern half of Mount Lebanon, which runs parallel to the Mediterranean coast. It was created in 1996, and includes the Aammiq Wetland in the Beqaa foothills and Qaraoun artificial lake, both designated as IBAs and KBAs. The transition area of the Shouf BR has a population of around 100,000 people living within 22 municipalities of the Shouf, Aley and West Beqaa Districts. The villages surrounding the reserve are characterised by sharp seasonal fluctuation in the number of inhabitants. The project will contribute to building ecological and socio-economic resilience to the impacts of anthropogenic and climate changes that are speeding up ecological degradation and biodiversity loss in the Shouf eco-cultural landscape.
One of the Strategies of the project is to improve scientific knowledge and gather data on biodiversity indicators related to the high value eco-cultural landscape of the Shouf, by designing and setting up monitoring systems and tools to periodically assess the evolution of the ecological functionality of agro-silvo-pastoral systems and wetlands, and the status of key species populations. The project will also tackle the green growth, economic diversification and infrastructures for biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development, building on the unique territorial identity of the Shouf and on the green growth opportunities offered by the production and marketing of agro-forestry products (e.g. medicinal and aromatic/edible plants; honey) and services (eco-tourism), with a special focus on the empowerment of women and youth. The project will also include activities that educate the new generations on the value of the eco-cultural landscape of the Shouf, through building a new generation of environmentally aware and conscious citizens through formal and informal educational actions in the Shouf landscape with the establishment of Homat Al-Hima (HH) place at WBCC, Local Conservation Groups identified and trained and Youth Conservation Clubs (Homat Al-Hima) initiated and supported.
MAVA Foundation organized its first steering committee meeting for M6 partners in Marrakesh – Morroco, on 3 – 4 May 2017. Participating partners included Diversearth, Global Diversity Foundation, IUCN Mediterranean, IUCN International, Med-Ina, SPNL, Chouf Biosphere Reserve, Trashumancia y Naturaleza, WWF North Africa, WWF Portugal, and Yolda Initiative.
The meeting was attended by Ms. Bassima Khatib – SPNL Assistant Director General on behalf of SPNL. The meeting was the opportunity to present the status of each proposal, get the necessary input from other participants and achieve better collaboration between the partners. The objective is to develop dynamic projects both on a site level and a regional level. Hence, the purpose of the 1st SC meeting of Outcome M6 was to focus on developing the best possible proposals within the OAP. Future SC meetings, which will take place once a year in the different pilot sites of Outcome M6, will aim to monitor, evaluate and share the results of the projects.