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Plant Sociology numero 54 (1) S1

pag. 61-71: Restoration against all odds: the case of coastal sand dunes in Ouzai

J. Sabra1, R. Imad1, H. Miri1, Y. Yehia1 & M.S. Al-Zein1,2

1Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, P.O. Box 11-0236, Riad El Solh 1107 2020, Beirut, Lebanon.

2Biology Department, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, American University of Beirut, P.O. Box 11-0236, Riad El Solh 1107 2020, Beirut, Lebanon.

doi: 10.7338/pls2017541S1/09

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abstract

Substantial urban development (which has accelerated the effects of climate change), water and air pollution, as well as erosive forces have reduced natural habitats along the coast of Lebanon to less than 20%. One unique coastal ecosystem is the sand dunes, which once harboured rare and regional endemic plant species. Although sandy beaches currently occupy around 20% of the Lebanese shoreline, resorts, industries, commercial development and informal settlements have replaced the pre-existing, fragile dune ecosystems. The area under study stretches from the shores of Khalde in the south and the northern limits of Ouzai, the latter being an area dominated by informal settlements that have eroded and polluted the beach sand due to inadequate infrastructure. This has compromised and destroyed the highly specialised ecosystem and deteriorated its functions. Taking into consideration the beneficial functions and unique character of coastal sand dunes, this study presents a putative dune restoration plan that will essentially incorporate the nearby community in a self-sufficient, resilient landscape. A necessary change in the site's zoning plan, particularly in reference to land ownership and use, is needed prior to the implementation of the proposed restoration and integration program. Extensive environmental, spatial and social analyses allow the employment of several site-specific dune stabilisation techniques. The dune reinstatement methods will complement the establishment of a well-designed community in which human and environmental elements are integrated within designated spaces. These allocated interaction zones will act as a buffer between inaccessible dunes near the shore and the densely inhabited neighbourhood further inland. While the study focuses on the restitution of the coastal sand dune ecosystem, detailed design methodologies create a strategy for improving the living conditions within Ouzai. In light of the proposed design, the currently depreciated neighbourhood will experience more open space, enhanced infrastructure, cleaner air and a healthier environment.

keywords

bioswales, coastal sand dunes, ecological landscape design, informal settlements, rare and endemic species, spatial analysis, threatened ecosystem, urbanisation