Located in the eastern Bekaa valley at the foot of the arid Anti-Lebanon mountain range, the Anjar-K’far Zabad IBA consists mostly of freshwater wetland with some mixed woodland and cultivated fields. There is open scrubby hillside and several commercial fish farms in the southern half of the site.
At least 15 pairs of Syrian Serins Serinus syriacus breed in the woods at the southern end of the site. This species is classified as Vulnerable in the 2008 IUCN Red List and is also a restricted range species, found mostly in the Levant, with its breeding stronghold in Lebanon and nearby areas of Jordan and Syria. Although the IBA designation of the site is due to the Syrian Serins, the wetland habitats are included because of their importance in national terms. The reedbeds and grassland hold good numbers of breeding wetland birds and reedbed warblers. Many other birds use the IBA as a migration stopover site or wintering ground. Various species of soaring birds occur on migration, including storks and pelicans in moderate numbers, while raptors are usually relatively few. Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus and Long-legged Buzzards Buteo rufinus are regularly seen outside the migration seasons although neither is confirmed as breeding. The farmland, woods and hillside at the periphery of the site hold a broad range of typical commoner species, both on migration and breeding.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The northern half of the site has been protected since 2004 by the municipality of K’far Zabad, which has banned hunting (previously a problem of immense significance here) and carried out various habitat restoration activities with the help of SPNL. The northern half is designated as a Hima, a traditional Arabian system of community-led management, which is being promoted by SPNL in several sites around Lebanon. The southern half of the area, which previously had no formal protection, was added to the Hima in 2008. The biggest threat to birds in the IBA is hunting, which is a very popular national pastime. However, with the declaration of the Hima, work is ongoing to promote positive attitudes to conservation and to discourage hunting. Other threats include disturbance to birds, water abstraction, agricultural intensification, grazing and eutrophication.