Travelling with birds

By Rania Khalil, Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), Communal Governance Systems and Public Participation

In September last year, we set out to observe and learn about migratory birds and their flight paths. Joined by local and international bird experts, we worked alongside the Hima Hammana community to observe the birds that flew overhead, while learning from the experts about bird monitoring processes. Hima, the Arabic word for an area officially set aside for the conservation of natural resources, is a communal governance system that includes communities in all decisions and activities. Hunting is banned in Hima Hammana, which ensures a safe migration, a necessity in order to protect these beautiful birds. 

As part of efforts to restore West Bakaa landscape multi-functionality and its associated cultural practices, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) developed a management and restoration plan for degraded high mountain pastures in the Himas of West Bekaa in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut and jointly implemented it with local municipalities and shepherds.

Hammana and other neighboring villages are the main passage for birds in Lebanon. This bird monitoring activity was carried out to highlight the importance of the area to migratory birds, and was part of a larger counting process which culminated in a report produced by the experts on the beautiful birds that pass through the region. The community took part enthusiastically in counting the birds, giving them a better understanding of the significance of the area to the birds, and why they should protect nature, birdwatching sites and himas.

The image of so many binoculars raised to the sky, held by the local communities, truly depicts what Communal Governance Systems is all about: protecting, involving and teaching the people to love and preserve their lovely nature.

Feature image:  © Communal Governance Systems and Public Participation project

All photos provided by Communal Governance Systems and Public Participation project