email a friend
printable version
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)

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   

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

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Qaraoun. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/10/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife