Qab Elias Environmental Project

Restoring woodland and teaching about wildlife in the Bekaa Valley

Subject: Tree planting & Environmental education
Location: Qab Elias, Bekaa Valley


The last few years have been difficult for A Rocha Lebanon, as the church has necessarily focused much of its effort on helping the influx of Syrian refugees. Many have settled in the Bekaa Valley, where the mountains are largely bereft of their natural tree cover and erosion is increasing.

The Qab Elias Environmental Project in the Bekaa has been designed with the local residents to help counter the tree loss and provide a beautiful, shady place where children and adults can enjoy a picnic, play and learn about wildlife. The Bekaa Valley is on one of the world’s most important migratory bird flyways and so woodland where migrating birds can feed and roost is vital.

Ready to be transformed

On the south side of the village of Qab Elias this rocky slope is being transformed into a refuge for nature.

The Cedar of Lebanon

Local schools and scout groups participated in planting the nation's most celebrated tree - the Cedar of Lebanon - which is now protected in Lebanon and can live for up to 2000 years


The project was launched on Independence Day, in November 2015, when a student from each of the 12 schools in the town planted a small cedar of Lebanon and heard the mayor explain why everyone should appreciate and care for their environment. In January 2016 A Rocha Lebanon planted native trees at the site. Eventually it’s hoped to have more trees and plants so that around 60 common fruit trees, herbs and other plants can be labelled to help visitors learn their names.

No entry for grazers and browsers

It was important to fence off the plot as sheep and goats roam the area close by and would be happy to eat the newly established plants


A pond has also been created as a safe place for birds to drink and bathe. It will also help in irrigating new plants. In addition, A Rocha Lebanon has created a labyrinth with two hundred lavender bushes to add a special feature to the project. Two refugees worked on the labyrinth and were happy to get some paid work to feed their large families. The next stages are to finish the signs, and create a walking trail from the town to a nearby monument.

An oasis in the Bekaa

A refuge in the making for both people and wildlife

Project in partnership with

  • Chino Cienega Foundation