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Lajat Biosphere Reserve, Syria

The Lajat  Biosphere Reserve is located on the Lajat Plateau of Sweida Governorate that occupies the southernmost corner of Syria at the border with Jordan. It is extended over an area of 12038 ha, at an altitude ranging from 600 to 900 metres asl.

The site is a place for an extremely diverse biological wealth, and encompasses some of the most interesting landscapes of the Sweida Province. The basaltic undulating hills that are interspersed with black pumice or pozzolan high cones are unparalleled in the country and the region, and are a stark contrast to the varied semi-arid landscapes elsewhere in the Reserve.

Designation date: 2009


Regional network:  ArabMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 12,038 ha

    • Core area(s): 2,031 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 1,752 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 8,255 ha 

    Location:  32o 59’ 41.16”N, 36o 30’ 22.76”E

    Administrative Authorities

    General Commission for Environmental Affairs Ministry of Local Administration and Environment

    Dr. Akram Eissa Darwich
    Damascus, Syria

    Tel.: + 963 11 2140759


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    Ecological Characteristics

    These basaltic habitats support, in their fissures and cracks, large open woods of Mt. Atlas Mastic tree Pistacia atlantica, Bitter almond Amygdalus communis, Wild almond Amygdalus korschinskii, Roman Olive trees Olea europaea, Sumac Rhus coraria and Common hawthorn Crataegus azarolus that are underlined with capparis spinosus, Ononis sp., Atraphaxis sp., and the endemic Iris aurantiaca.





    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The Lajat land is among the most productive agriculturally in the country and Sweida Governorate, with significant water retention and high soil quality and fertility. Further, the semi arid gravel and stony plain ecosystems interspersed with top quality earthen lands offers the agriculture soil and the construction material for most of the houses and walls of backyards in the region.

    What remarkable at the Lajat Biosphere Reserve is that people from the local community use to fence large parcels of lands with several kilometres of stone walls to allow rangelands protection and grazing on rotational basis, offering as such a good traditional example for sustainable grazing and new landscapes with plenty of habitats to birds and reptiles, mainly snakes. Moreover, the Lajat has its unique style of agricultural historic terraces that are in use until today, old Roman olive oil presses, old pistachio presses and vast areas of ruins that were built up by the Romans and destroyed later on by the Ottoman troops in early twentieth century.


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    Last updated: March 2019