The site is located in the northern half of Lebanon, in the hills to the east of the town of Jbail, north of Beirut. It is a steep sided valley, mostly covered with dense woodland, with a low level of agriculture and some grazing.
The Mediterranean woodland supports relatively few breeding species of bird and they are mostly ones that are common and widespread such as Blackbird, Great Tit and various finches. The more scrubby areas of the woodland support resident Sardinian Warblers, a biome restricted species. Species associated with the more open rocky areas included Black-eared Wheatear, Western Rock Nuthatch (both biome restricted species) and Chukar. Chukar are apparently resident at low densities, but the only record of Black-eared Wheatear, was of a single bird in March, which may have been on passage.
Soaring bird migration was low in spring, with very small numbers of eagles passing over, and only medium sized flocks of Pelicans and Cranes being of any interest. Because of the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and the evacuation of foreign staff, no visits were made during the autumn period and so it remains to be seen whether or not this site is an important one for the autumn migration of soaring birds.
Non-bird biodiversity: Evidence of Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) was seen during a winter visit but it was not possible to estimate the population size of this species.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Local Level –Deliberate persecution of birds (low-levels of hunting, both from road and within the reserve). Debris/garbage pollution (Evidence of rubbish dumping from road, which may have been stopped by erection of fence).
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
It is already officially a Protected Area and as such has a Management Committee.
Habitat and land use
The main habitat is Mediterranean oak woodland, dominated by the evergreen oak species Quercus calliprinos, with a scattering of deciduous oak Quercus infectoria) and other tree species including Strawberry Tree (Arbutus sp.). It varies in structure from dense woodland to more open woodland with some scrubby vegetation. There are several vertical cliffs of bare rock with many small caves and crevices. There is one small hamlet with some agriculture (terraces and ‘poly-tunnels’) surrounding it, and also some terraces with orchards on the fringes of the site.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bentael forest area. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/10/2021.