Shuf Biosphere Reserve (Al Shuf Cedar Reserve)
Lebanon, Beit El Dine

The Shuf Biosphere Reserve (Al Shuf Cedar Reserve) is located in central Lebanon, in the Shuf region, stretching along the Lebanon mountain range and covers an area of 50,000 hectares, which is 5% of the country's total area. The largest reserve in Lebanon was founded in 1996, in July 2005, UNESCO declared a biosphere reserve of world significance. Its ecosystems are formed by oak, juniper and cedar forests (a quarter of Lebanon's cedar forests are located in the reserve), as well as Aamik wetlands. The main protected object of the Shuf reserve is the area of Lebanese cedar, the age of trees sometimes reaches 2000 years. Some areas of forests are protected by local authorities as "objects of exceptional beauty" and are the cultural heritage of Lebanon. In total, 520 plant species grow in the reserve, including 48 endemic species, 14 - rare and 25 - endangered. The reserve is home to more than 250 species of birds (white-headed vulture, golden eagle, black-headed goldfinch, kestrel, larks, jays, blackbirds, partridges, pheasants and others), 32 species of mammals, including wolf, wild boar, reed cat, jackals, foxes, porcupines, squirrels, mountain chamois, 31 species of reptiles and amphibians (Mediterranean chameleon, Palestinian viper, Mediterranean tortoise, salamander, lizards, toads and frogs). Historical and cultural attractions are located on the territory of the reserve - the ruins of the Nihe cave fortress, mentioned in historical records from 975, the tomb of El Nabi Ayub (the Islamic prophet Ayub is identified with the biblical prophet Job), the ruins of Qab Elias Castle, an outpost guarding the Beirut road Damascus, tomb of Saint Mazar El Sit Cha'wane. For visitors to the reserve, hiking and cycling hiking trails have been developed (total length of trails is 250 kilometers), recreation areas are equipped, information stands are installed, tours are conducted, there are hotels, guest houses and campsites.

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