Monitoring of Biodiversity Indicators in the West Bekaa Landscape
The West Beqaa Landscape is characterized by a gradient of environmental conditions – geomorphological and climatic features – resulting in three bio-climate zones: Mountain- Mediterranean (1500-1900 m), Supra-Mediterranean (1000-1500 m) and Meso- Mediterranean (500-1000 m). Thus, the West Beqaa lacks practically the Oro- Mediterranean zone of the ACS but includes the Meso-Mediterranean level that is not apparently present in ACS. The part of the landscape most modified by the human being is in the Supra and Meso-Mediterranean levels, due to the milder climate conditions and the complex geological features favoring the presence of deeper soils and higher soil water content and freshwater availability.
The landscape is characterized by a mosaic of agriculture land, semi-natural woodlands and pastures. The Mountain- Mediterranean level keeps more natural conditions being characterized by different successional stages of forests and pastures. Accordingly, the land use types of the West Beqaa were investigated by SPNL in the Mountain-, Supra-, and Meso-Mediterranean levels. The investigation was limited to three Himas (Khirbit Qanafar, Ain Zibdeh and Aitanit) along the eastern slopes of the Shouf Mountain Landscape. The maximum height is 1918 meters a.s.l at Khirbit Qanafar and 1785 meters a.s.l at Aitanit. The minimum height is 853 meters at Khirbit Qanafar and 840 meters at Aitanit.
In order to explore the various agro-sylvo-pastoral land-uses and the landscapes of the West Beqaa three Himas, it was necessary to verify the land uses types already obtained from the examination of the google earth mapping. For this purpose, the SPNL that manages and knows well the Himas has examined maps of GeoEye 0.5 for the himas and organized field trips to the three sites (see below) focussing this time on 1) traditional practices that constitute the cultural heritage of the landscape and its biodiversity, 2) major threats impacting the landscape and the practices, 3) major pastoral lands, 4) various types and sub-types of farmlands and 5) sites and biodiversity elements that need restoration to their optimal conditions.
Article first published in Monitoring of Biodiversity Indicators in the West Beqaa Landscape.