Mapping Important Wildlife Areas in Lebanon (Doctoral dissertation, University of Balamand, Faculty of Arts and Sciences). Chidiac, A., 2019.

Alexander Chidiac
University of Balamand, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2019 – Dissertations, Academic – 112 pages

In accordance with targets held by the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), this study aims at creating the first National map of Important Wildlife Areas (IWAs) of medium-sized mammals in Lebanon. Wildlife in Lebanon, a country with high levels of biodiversity and endemism, is under constant threat caused by anthropogenic disturbances such as: habitat destruction, illegal hunting and natural factors (e.g. climate change). Mapping IWAs is a crucial step toward conserving wildlife and their habitats by increasing the area of protected lands nation-wide. By mapping IWAs in this study, baseline resources are provided for local and regional planners as well as for academic researchers in future conservation initiatives. Accordingly, this study aimed at mapping and characterizing IWAs to serve as a tool for future wildlife management and conservation initiatives in Lebanon. The specific objectives were to: 1. Design two sets of criteria for the selection of concerned species and IWAs, respectively. 2. Map Potential Habitat Areas for selected species. 3. Investigate the observation of selected species in association with their potential habitats. 4. Produce and characterize a map of IWAs at the national level. Designing selection criteria for selecting species and IWAs respectively involved novel as well as internationally recognized methodologies. Scoring matrices were used to produce quantifiable and comparative results to ensure the reproducibility of these methodologies used in future updating studies. A list of 9 terrestrial, mammalian species was produced, and this list became the focus of investigations into habitat requirements, distributions and observations. Potential Habitat Areas (PHAs) for each selected species were mapped using land cover analyses in a Geographic Information System (GIS) approach to investigate theoretical distributions of key mammalian species. Observations of selected species were assessed using data collected and compiled from conducted surveys. Mapped IWAs were assessed and ranked for various development and wildfire risks to provide planners with a priority matrix for future interventions aimed at mitigating risks. Additionally, general recommendations for each IWA were made based on the results of the risk analyses. The end product may serve as a resource for regional and national decision-makers to increase the conservation capacities of existing and future policies pertaining to land use planning and biodiversity conservation.

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