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Location Lebanon, Beqaa
Central coordinates 35o 41.38' East  33o 34.54' North
IBA criteria A4iv
Area 1,190 ha
Altitude 850 m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Society for the Protection of Nature and Natural Resources in Lebanon



Summary It is the largest man-made freshwater body in Lebanon, lying at the Southern end of the Bekaa valley. It is a flyway for many soaring birds. The Lake covers a total area of 1190ha, holding 110 species of birds and other wildlife. Several species of conservation concern have been recorded in past years such as Sociable Plover, and Ferruginous Duck.

Site description Lake Qaraaoun is a man-made reservoir,created by the damming of the Litani river. Surrounding the lake itself are woodland,orchards, and low-growing scrub. The water levels fluctuate severely in the course of the year and there is little or no submerged or emergent vegetation. Qaraaoun lake is the largest body of freshwater in Lebanon and located at the southern end of the Bekaa valley (a continuation of the Great Rift valley,a well-documented flyway for raptors and other soaring birds: Frumkin et al 1995,Yeshem & Yom-Tov 2008)

Key Biodiversity Observations suggest that over 20 000 soaring birds,including raptors, storks, pelicans and others pass over the lake annually (CC pers obs). Several species of conservation concern (2008 IUCN Red List) have been recorded here in recent years such as Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Great Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius on migration. It is also the most important site in Lebanon for wintering waterfowl (CC pers obs, Ramadan-Jaradi et al 2008).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  2005  20,000-49,999 individuals  poor  A4iv   

IBA Monitoring

2006 high very unfavourable low
  Population
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - hunting and trapping happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural and forestry effluents and practices happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution domestic and urban waste water happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution garbage and solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution industrial and military effluents happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Ciconia nigra Black Stork 2480 1560 individuals 63 unfavourable
Ciconia ciconia White Stork 126015 4216 individuals 4 very unfavourable
Circus aeruginosus Western Marsh-harrier 85 33 individuals 39 very unfavourable
Milvus migrans 1332 1332 individuals 100 favourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   40%
Artificial - aquatic   10%
Grassland   10%
Shrubland   35%
Wetlands (inland)   5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
Notes: The land around the lake down to the highest winter water level is primarily agricultural, on the eastern side it is a mixture of arable crops and olive orchards, with some grazing of sheep and goats, on the western side the more steeply sloping land consists of fruit orchards and rough pasture with grazing. The western shore also has a number of restaurants and hotels, much patronized in late spring and summer, there are at these times three large boats which take people out onto the lake. There are a handful of fishing boats (approx 6). Hunting of birds is popular, in winter the hunters have been known to go out in boats to shoot wildfowl, otherwise the hunters drive on the dried up lake shore in summer and autumn to hunt primarily storks, heron/egrets and lark species. Also in these latter periods flocks of goats and sheep come onto the former lake bed to graze on vegetation that develops in the damp soil. The level of water drops to such an extent that the lake more than halves in size, leaving a steppe –like habitat of low vegetation and rocks/shingle which attracts large flocks of larks and lapwings. (Interim Report to the MAVA board on the Identification and Conservation of New “Important Bird Areas” in Lebanon Project - January 2006).
fisheries/aquaculture minor
Notes: The land around the lake down to the highest winter water level is primarily agricultural, on the eastern side it is a mixture of arable crops and olive orchards, with some grazing of sheep and goats, on the western side the more steeply sloping land consists of fruit orchards and rough pasture with grazing. The western shore also has a number of restaurants and hotels, much patronized in late spring and summer, there are at these times three large boats which take people out onto the lake. There are a handful of fishing boats (approx 6). Hunting of birds is popular, in winter the hunters have been known to go out in boats to shoot wildfowl, otherwise the hunters drive on the dried up lake shore in summer and autumn to hunt primarily storks, heron/egrets and lark species. Also in these latter periods flocks of goats and sheep come onto the former lake bed to graze on vegetation that develops in the damp soil. The level of water drops to such an extent that the lake more than halves in size, leaving a steppe –like habitat of low vegetation and rocks/shingle which attracts large flocks of larks and lapwings. (Interim Report to the MAVA board on the Identification and Conservation of New “Important Bird Areas” in Lebanon Project - January 2006).
forestry minor
hunting major
Notes: The land around the lake down to the highest winter water level is primarily agricultural, on the eastern side it is a mixture of arable crops and olive orchards, with some grazing of sheep and goats, on the western side the more steeply sloping land consists of fruit orchards and rough pasture with grazing. The western shore also has a number of restaurants and hotels, much patronized in late spring and summer, there are at these times three large boats which take people out onto the lake. There are a handful of fishing boats (approx 6). Hunting of birds is popular, in winter the hunters have been known to go out in boats to shoot wildfowl, otherwise the hunters drive on the dried up lake shore in summer and autumn to hunt primarily storks, heron/egrets and lark species. Also in these latter periods flocks of goats and sheep come onto the former lake bed to graze on vegetation that develops in the damp soil. The level of water drops to such an extent that the lake more than halves in size, leaving a steppe –like habitat of low vegetation and rocks/shingle which attracts large flocks of larks and lapwings. (Interim Report to the MAVA board on the Identification and Conservation of New “Important Bird Areas” in Lebanon Project - January 2006).
rangeland/pastureland minor
tourism/recreation minor
water management major

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Qaraoun. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2014

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