|Location||Lebanon, North Lebanon|
|Central coordinates||35o 46.25' East 34o 29.40' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, B2|
|Altitude||0 - 6m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Summary The three islands lie 5.5 km north-west of Tripoli. They cover a total area of 500 ha. A site for several globally threatened bird species, nesting site for endangered marine Turtles and resting place for 156 migratory bird species. It is designated Mediterranean SPA under Barcelona Convention and a Ramsar site of three flat, rocky islands of limestone rocks 6 m above sea level. There is a freshwater and some half-built concrete buildings and some ruins.
Site description A group of three flat, rocky islands of eroded limestone pavement (rising to 6 m), c.13 km offshore and north-west of Tripoli, together with their surrounding seas. Palm Island (Jazirat al-Nakhl or Ile du Palmier) is the largest (20 ha), and has a sand beach on its north and east sides, and a central depression where rainwater accumulates in winter. Parts of the islands are flooded with seawater during storms. There is some very stunted maquis-type vegetation in clefts in the limestone but the islands are otherwise relatively bare, except in spring when carpeted in wildflowers. On Palm Island there are also some small ponds, boggy areas and stands of reed Phragmites. The islands are commonly visited by picnicers, tourists, hunters, school parties and fishermen. There is a freshwater well on Palm Island, as well as some half-built concrete buildings and some ruins from antiquity. There is a lighthouse on Ramkin Island. The third island is called Sanani.
Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The islands were formerly an important seabird breeding site, known as the 'Bird Islands' in the last century. Larus audouinii (see below), L. cachinnans, Sterna bengalensis, S. hirundo and S. albifrons were all breeding on Palm Island at the end of the 19th century at least, but currently no species breed, apart from L. cachinnans possibly, due to high levels of disturbance. L. cachinnans has been declining for a long time (80–90 pairs in 1956, 50 birds in 1973, at least 15 pairs in 1975, no birds present in April 1993) and may be extinct. The site would make an excellent observatory for monitoring the large, visible migration of waterbirds along the coast (egrets, ducks, waders, gulls etc.) and for observation and ringing of passerine migrants; over 300 species of migrants had been recorded by 1974, including vagrants such as Haliaeetus albicilla, Falco eleonorae, F. pelegrinoides and Vanellus gregarius. The site was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: old records of Monachus monachus (E), perhaps up until the 1960s. Reptiles: old records of sea-turtles Chelonia mydas (E) and Caretta caretta (E) nesting on the sand beaches. Flora: some wildflower species are nationally endangered or extinct along the mainland coast, or otherwise unusual, e.g. Euphorbia pithyusa, Cressa cretica.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii||non-breeding||1973||18 adults only||good||A1, B2||Near Threatened|
|Pollution||industrial & military effluents - oil spills||happening now||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||moderate to rapid deterioration||high|
|Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation||A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive||The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented||high|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Palm Island||Nature Reserve||500||is identical to site||500|
|Palm Islands Nature Reserve||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||415||protected area contained by site||415|
|Palmier, Ramkin, Sanani (Iles de Lapins)||Barcelona Convention||500||is identical to site||500|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Coastline||Rocky shores; Shallow marine waters||major|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Assad Serhal.
References Carp (1980), Haber et al. (no date), Tohmé (1973), Tohmé and Neuschwander (1974).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Palm Islands Nature Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/05/2015
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