Stepping up Nature Reserves Capacity – STEP4Nature

Stepping up Nature Reserves Capacity – STEP4Nature


This project, titled “STEPping up Nature Reserves Capacity – STEP4Nature” is financed by the Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo – AICS and is to be executed by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) of the Government of Lebanon (GoL) and is to be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) using the Direct Implementation Modality (DIM).

STEP4Nature Project will contribute to a strategic sustainable management of Nature Reserves in Lebanon, to conserving Lebanon’s natural capital and strengthen the Ministry of Environment’s capacities to plan and sustainably manage protected areas and nature reserves. By promoting innovative approaches to protected areas, nature reserves and forest management, that also imply the translation of principles of ecosystems and biodiversity economics into practice, this project will demonstrate a broad range of tangible benefits that local and wider communities could enjoy from preserved and well-functioning ecosystems. In this respect, the project will identify priority governmental needs in the areas of stewardship and safeguarding the ecosystem services, the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources in protected areas. Within the framework of this process, specific needs for the institutional strengthening of the Ministries will be identified as priority requirements to improve its capacity in the above-mentioned spheres of its responsibility. 

The project will specifically contribute to the enhancement and improvement of nature reserves in Lebanon and will subsequently have positive effects from an institutional, socio-economic and technical perspective. These activities will also promote alternative sustainable income-generating activities for local populations residing near or within NRs while involving Italian Centres of Excellences in the sector. 


Lebanon has ratified or is a party to a number of international/regional treaties, conventions and laws related to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, climate variability, desertification, conservation, e.g., UNFCCC ratified in 1994; Convention on Biodiversity ratified in 1995; Cartagena Protocol accessed in 2013; Nagoya Protocol accessed in 2018 (both under Convention on Biodiversity - CBD), Barcelona Convention ratified in 1977 and its protocol mainly the Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI  protocol).

The development of Nature Reserves (NRs) is crucial for the conservation of the natural heritage of the country and furthermore and important aspect for the protection of the forest areas. The Government has further ambitious plans for increasing forest areas from currently 13% of the total land area to 20% in the next 20 years (the Ministry of Agriculture 40 million Tree Program).  This goes in pair with responsible hunting, particularly that the hunting law issued in 2004 was implemented for the first time in 2017. While the law strictly forbids hunting in NRs, training and awareness remain curial for proper application and enforcement of the law.

STEP4Nature aims to directly tackle 7 targets in full or in part although a number of others are targeted indirectly through NBSAP 2030 targets: (5) the total percent coverage of nature reserves is increased to reach at least 5% of Lebanon’s area; (9) rehabilitation plans are implemented in at least 20% of degraded sites that they can safeguard the sustained delivery of ecosystem services; (14) vulnerable ecosystems to climate change are identified and adaptation plans are developed and implemented; (15) research on biodiversity is improved in Lebanon, and research outputs and biodiversity related reports are shared through a centralized platform (from both public and private institutions), which is updated and made accessible to the public (CHM); (16) traditional knowledge, uses, and practices of local communities relevant to biodiversity and sustainable use of resources are documented, preserved and shared/published; (17) the relevant institutional and legal framework and government policies are reviewed, updated and reinforced where necessary to ensure effective biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; and (18) Lebanon has developed and is implementing a robust resource mobilization strategy with a sustainable mechanism to finance biodiversity initiatives.

This project aims to improve the resilience of nature reserves in Lebanon as articulated in the Ministry of Environment’ s 2016 National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Project outcome

The project will contribute to the improvement of environmental governance and to the strengthening of National Environmental Management while developing a number of national development plans and processes integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services values.

The project outcomes can be achieved through:

Output 1: Legal and institutional support. Legal and regulatory systems strengthened at the Ministry of Environment as well as within the nature reserve management structures

Output 2: Technical research and policy support. Provision of technical support and analysis undertaken to strengthen nature reserves’ planning and management systems

Output 3: Enhancement of infrastructural capacity. Implementation of some of the priority management plans for nature reserves including investments and capacity building activities 

GESI Component: 

Under the objective of Output 2, the project will prepare participatory and gender equality NR management plans and propose policy options for sustainable funding. 

The review of the APAC activity under output 1 and all the above-mentioned activities under Output 2 will feed into the formulation of several participatory and gender equality management, monitoring and evaluation plans for the nature reserves where needed and where international norms will be adopted. The formulation of the participatory and gender equality plans will involve communities surrounding NRs, except Arz el Shouf NR, to reduce harmful practices (e.g. agro-pastoral and building infringements), regenerate lost ecosystem services, creating new opportunities to benefit from goods and services (e.g., income-generating activities such as ecotourism, B&B, reforestation activities, establishing nurseries, product certification, production of briquettes and bioenergy tapping UNDP-CEDRO expertise, etc.).