Semi Deserts of Ras Baalbek

Country/territory: Lebanon

IBA Criteria met: A3 (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 7,814 ha

Protection status:

Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2007 very high unfavourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
This IBA is situated in the northeast of the country in the Bekaa valley, just north of the village which gives it its name. It consists of flat or gently undulating stony arid land extending up into the Anti-Lebanon mountain range.

The site comprises two main sections:
- gently undulating stony desert on both sides of the Ras Baalbek-Hermel road, just west of the junction with the Baalbek-Qaa highway;
- the rising ground to the east of the highway just north of the Hermel road junction, up to and including a wadi cutting into the Anti-Lebanon range.

Throughout the whole area the habitat is primarily desert or semi-desert. There is some water irrigating fields near the main highway, but away from this moisture there is little vegetation apart from spiny scrub. The wadi itself is wide at its mouth (c750 metres) and has a shingle base in contrast to its rocky, sparsely vegetated upper slopes, overlooked by high crags.

The land is used primarily as rangeland for several large flocks of sheep and goats owned by the transhumant Bedouin people, who spend the winter and spring months here before moving to other pastures for the summer. There is also a low level of arable agriculture, both open fields and plastic ‘poly-tunnels’, irrigated with water pumped from boreholes. This is increasing every year.

Key biodiversity
Ten Biome-restricted Species, mostly from the Saharo-Sindian Desert biome breed here: Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor,Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura, Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti, Temminck’s Lark Eremophila bilopha, Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta, Spectacled Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens, Pale Rockfinch Carpospiza brachydactyla and Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus. Of these species, 7 are rare or unknown as breeders elsewhere in Lebanon. Several other species breed here commonly which are also scarce or rare breeders elsewhere in the country (Prior & Conroy 2009).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Semi Deserts of Ras Baalbek. Downloaded from on 07/08/2020.