BEIRUT: Despite the government’s recent closure of a sand quarry in the Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve, the site remains under pressure from individiuals who were profiting from the quarry activities, according to an association involved in protecting the site.

The Jabal Moussa site was declared a protected forest by the Agriculture Ministry in 2008 and was named a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2009, making it the third such reserve in Lebanon after the Chouf and the Jabal al-Rihan reserves.
The association said it had witnessed large-scale degradation near the main entrance of the reserve in the village of Mshati during the first week of April.

According to the statement, a bulldozer dug into the mountain, causing extensive damage to the front of the mountain as well as to private lands adjacent to the sand quarry.

In cooperation with the local community and the Environment Ministry, the association, whose role is to protect the mountain and preserve its biodiversity, has began work to repair the damage caused by quarrying.

The statement also said that caretaker Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud had responded to the association’s request to the government to protect the mountain, and issued a decree April 4, sealing off the sand quarry.

The association warned that the reserve was in danger and that allowing any further quarrying activity would lead to environmental disaster, and would allow those who profit from the quarry to continue with impunity.

The association emphasized that the quarry must remain sealed off to ensure the protection of the Jabal Moussa biosphere reserve and its surrounding areas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 21, 2011, on page 3.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::