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Location Syria, Aleppo
Central coordinates 37o 29.00' East  36o 3.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 15,000 ha
Altitude 300 - 350m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife (Affiliate)

Site description A large, shallow salt-lake in a closed basin of c.37,500 ha, lying just south of Jabbul village, 35 km east-south-east of Halab (Aleppo). In the 1970s the lake was filled entirely by local run-off of winter/spring rainfall and its extent was highly variable from year to year, reaching a maximum of c.3,000 ha and with at least a little standing water at most times of the year. A levée built on the east side by the 1970s prevented flooding of the majority of the salt-flat in the east of the basin. However, in 1988 large, new irrigation projects on the nearby steppe started discharging surplus water into the lake on a substantial scale; it is not known how saline the inflow is nor whether it is seasonal or perennial. This appears to have led to a higher and more stable water level than in the past, since the lake currently measures up to 20 km long and 5 km wide (c.10,000 ha), and although in the 1970s the flat and sandy banks had little or no marginal vegetation, they are now locally lined by extensive Phragmites reedbeds, on the southern and south-eastern shores at least. At least two large islands are created at times of high flooding. Around the lake shore there is turf, close-cropped by sheep. The surrounding steppe has a sparse shrubland of Haloxylon and Artemisia. Primary uses of the area are salt extraction, wildfowl hunting, and livestock grazing on the surrounding steppe by nomadic pastoralists; in the 1970s the sabkhah to the east was an artillery firing range.

Key Biodiversity An important wetland for wintering, migrating and breeding waterbirds. See box for key species. Other confirmed or probable breeding species include Alectoris chukar, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta, Cursorius cursor, Charadrius leschenaultii, Sterna nilotica, S. caspia, S. albifrons, Pterocles alchata and Rhodopechys obsoleta. According to local people Phoenicopterus ruber sometimes breeds; 700+ were present in April 1993. In the 1970s the number of wintering waterfowl depended on the water level (maximum recorded was 'tens of thousands'), numbers of Phoenicopterus ruber having varied from none to c.8,000. Currently the higher and apparently more stable water level is probably supporting even larger waterfowl numbers than in the 1970s. Other wintering species include Pelecanus onocrotalus, Ciconia nigra, Cygnus olor, Anser albifrons (2,030, December 1972), A. anser, Anas crecca (thousands), A. acuta (1,000+), Fulica atra (10,000), Grus grus (155, December 1972), Calidris minuta (many hundreds) and Ceryle rudis (200). Other migrating species in spring (April) include Podiceps nigricollis (100) Platalea leucorodia (70), Tadorna tadorna (300), Himantopus himantopus (200), Philomachus pugnax (thousands) and Larus genei (100). The site was listed as a wetland of international importance by Carp (1980).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Gazella subgutturosa (rare).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea passage  1993  400 individuals  poor  B1i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea winter  1993  300 individuals  poor  B1i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1975-1977  6,000-8,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Chlamydotis undulata resident  1993  present  B2  Not Recognised 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni breeding  1975  unknown  B2  Near Threatened 
Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei breeding  1993  present  B3  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1970-1993  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2014 very high not assessed high

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sabkhat al-Jabbul Nature Reserve Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 10,000 protected area contained by site 10,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Temperate  minor
Wetlands (inland) Permanent inland deltas; Permanent rivers, streams & creeks; Permanent saline, brackish & alkaline lakes; Permanent saline/brackish/alkaline marshes & pools; Seasonal/intermitt salt/brackish/alkali lake/flats; Seasonal/intermitt salt/brackish/alkali marsh/pool  20%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Pasture land; Urban areas  major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
rangeland/pastureland major
military minor
urban/industrial/transport minor
Notes: salt-pans
hunting major

Acknowledgements Data-sheets compiled by: Dr Ibrahim Hanna and Dr Amer Majid Agha (translated by S. Zaiane); Dr Riad Sabbagh and Dr M. A. Kabbani; Mohamed Taha Abassi (translated by S. Zaiane).

References Bodenham (1944), Carp (1980), Clarke (1924), Hollom (1959).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sabkhat al-Jabboul. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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