Tyre Coast Nature Reserve
- Lebanon -
Photo: © ngno
Tyre Coast Nature Reserve was designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) under the Ramsar Convention on 16-04-1999.
Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is the most diverse nature reserve in Lebanon in terms of ecosystems, as it harbors: 1) last remaining Sand Dunes ecosystem in Lebanon, 2) Wetland (Ramsar Site), 3) Agricultural ecosystem; and 4) Marine ecosystem. It has the largest, cleanest and most beautiful sandy public beach in Lebanon, which constitutes its Touristic Zone, and an important nesting site for 2 endangered sea turtle species: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). TCNR is an important site for migrating birds, and it has 3 different international designations:
- Ramsar Site (marshes at the conservation zone, springs of Ras El Ain –source of domestic water for the entire Tyre city and its surroundings, for irrigation to the entire agricultural lands or Ras El Ain area, and forming an estuary at the outflow of the remaining part in the sea);
- SPAMI, or Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (since 2013);
- Soon-to-be an IBA, or Important Bird Area, as per the bird assessment conducted by the ornithologist Dr. Ghassan Jaradi, submitted to BirdLife International for declaration in 2020;
- One additional designation is not directly attributed to TCNR, but to Tyre city, which is a World Heritage site designated by the UNESCO.
TCNR has two major areas: a coastal/terrestrial section with a surface area of 3.8 km2, and a marine area facing the coastal zone for 12 nautical miles into the sea, with a total surface equal to 113 km2. Upon a zoning assessment taking into consideration the principal uses, TCNR was divided into 4 different zones:
- Touristic zone (the famous beach of Tyre)
- Conservation zone (the reserve’s core area with highly sensitive and important biodiversity and its harboring ecosystems)
- Agricultural zone (Ras El Ain area, profiting from the fertile land and the local source of water or springs/ponds of Ras El Ain)
- Marine zone.
The different zones/uses led to a diverse, wide range of stakeholders: farmers, fishermen, tourists, scientists, and the local community.
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta); Astragalus berytheus; Sand lily (Pancratium maritimum)
Water source for: a) Irrigation; b) Domestic water use; the formation of an c) Estuary, which enriches the marine environment with a distinguished biodiversity and enhances the catch of fishermen and the richness of the marine ecosystem; and d) resilience of the wetland environment where the related biodiversity thrives, especially plants that fix sand dunes and contribute to preserving this peculiar ecosystem.
Stone ponds were constructed by the Phoenicians to catch and hold the water of the springs of Ras El Ain. These ponds date back 5,000 years. Aqueducts were also erected to channel water distribution to the city of Tyre from the Ras El Ain springs 5 km away. TCNR belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Tyre.
A visitor center for the TCNR is located at the Touristic zone, and it includes offices, kitchenette, toilets, and a storage room. In addition, there are trails leading to a bird hide for bird watching, at the Scientific zone of the reserve. The bird hide needs rehabilitation. Waste collection is managed with the operators of temporary huts that get installed during the summer season at the beach of TCNR (in the Touristic zone), where we distributed bins for waste sorting and launched a “sorting at source” initiative during the last season, with collection of recyclables sorted at each of the huts. The number of distributed bins is still insufficient to properly complete the cycle of waste management, but we’ll try outsourcing the needed funds to support this endeavour at the Touristic zone of the reserve.
All beach recreational activities are carried out at the Touristic zone of the reserve during the summer season.
Awareness campaigns; Periodical waste collection from the beach all year round, especially those brought by the waves and deposited on the beach; Fencing the Conservation zone, with the organization of guided tours inside it only through the constructed trails; Sea turtle nesting monitoring and protection; Prevention of illegal fishing practices through periodical sea patrolling;
Light and waste pollution affecting the nesting sea turtles; Trespassing the Conservation zone, especially the nesting site of sea turtles, littering the sand dunes, and vandalizing the signs erected around the trails; Beach litter; Non-sustainable agricultural practices at the Agricultural zone of the reserve (Ras El Ain), where the natural springs of Ras El Ain exist, affecting the water quality, especially that of the Estuary emerging from the springs of Ras El Ain, leading to the Estuary and marine pollution; Illegal bird hunting in Ras El Ain; Lack of funds to properly manage and conserve all the sections of the reserve, including the wetland.
The TCNR reserve has a management plan. However, this MP is outdated and needs to be updated (issued in 2004).
Latest updates: en of february 2022