- The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative worked with NatureMetrics to survey freshwater systems in Lebanon, with the aim of building knowledge in a previously understudied region.
- Having benefitted greatly from the project, they are now keen to scale their eDNA work across Lebanon for the benefit of biodiversity data in the region
The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative was set up in 2011, implemented by the US Forest Service and funded by USAID, to focus on the restoration of Lebanon’s fragile
ecosystems, through novel scientific approaches and technologies.
Their aims were to:
- Acquire baseline biodiversity data to inform the rehabilitation of riparian habitats, badly affected by decades of pollution and mismanagement.
- Establish long-term biodiversity monitoring to inform the rehabilitation and restoration process and better understand how biodiversity can recover in key sites with proper management.
“It proved to us that this is a significant new way to monitor wildlife in Lebanon as well as monitoring the success of restoration projects. We are excited to keep working with NatureMetrics to expand this pilot across Lebanon and in all LRI projects.”
Samara P. El-Haddad, Wildlife Conservation Specialist, Lebanon Reforestation Initiative
The biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems in Lebanon has been relatively understudied in the last two decades, with large gaps in the national understanding of species distributions. There was a lack of monitoring for fauna and wildlife. This is where Samara P. El-Haddad and Karma Bouazza from Lebanon Reforestation Initiative initiated an R&D programme to include monitoring of wildlife in this traditionally understudied region. There was a need to include fauna in the monitoring of LRI’s forest restoration efforts to assess success and failure.
The LRI team reached out to NatureMetrics and started planning a pilot project after watching one of our online webinars.
LRI chose an aquatic eDNA survey to establish an initial baseline of biodiversity in the freshwater systems of Lebanon. The pilot project involved collecting 20 samples from four waterbodies. They chose the NatureMetrics vertebrate analysis to capture a broad dataset on mammals, amphibians and fish as well as reptiles and birds.
During the project, our international logistics team worked closely with Samara and the director of LRI to obtain all necessary permits, and we now have a long-term arrangement with the Lebanese government to continue supplying LRI with our DNA-based services.
The results from this initial pilot, with only 20 samples collected, were full of surprises for the team at LRI with a total of 63 taxa detected across the sites. This included 15 unique fish, 4 amphibians, 24 birds, 2 reptiles and 18 mammals.
- The eDNA surveys confirmed the presence of the eastern fire salamander within a protected site. This species is coveted by pet traders due to its bright colours and patterns and is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.
- The detection of bats was encouraging for LRI because it highlighted the habitat as supporting the local bat populations and was a cost-effective survey method.
- This pilot was successful in providing LRI with data on species they had not previously been able to monitor.
- Now, LRI and NatureMetrics are working together to perform further surveys within these sites and throughout Lebanon.
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