General Introduction

The Shouf region of Lebanon is home to a marvelous collection of ancient ruins, houses, village squares, cemeteries, public monuments, water fountains and water mills. This mosaic of built heritage reflects the traditional, cultural, and social way of life of the people over many centuries. The built heritage, in addition to the famous natural heritage of the area, if well preserved and managed, will promote active ecotourism, which is an important part of the socio-economic plan of the Shouf region.

Destruction and demolition have ruined many of the heritage sites in the Shouf as a result of the absence of effective local and national laws and regulations for the protection and monitoring of these sites. The lack of cultural awareness, financial resources, out-dated tourism plans and indifference of the local community - all contribute to the rapid disappearance of our built heritage.

As a consequence of this neglect the Shouf Built Heritage Conservation Project (SBHCP) was initiated in 2009 as a pilot project in coordination with local and national authorities. The objectives of the SBHCP are conservation of the Shouf Built Heritage, development of a responsible tourism industry, and sharing the experience of life in the Shouf villages with other Lebanese regions.

Since 2009 a number of achievements have been accomplished: from implementing urgent local regulations to preserving Built Heritage (2010), to redesigning and execution of the historical quarters of many villages; to creating a professional team of 25 engineers for urgent intervention of Built Heritage (2012), to the restoration of a public monument in the town of Baakline. However, the most important step achieved so far, for the first time in Lebanon, is the complete conservation management plan of the BuiltHeritage of the Higher Shouf (project1) which constitutes the content of the book published in 2015: “Shouf Built Heritage Conservation Project “Higher Shouf Region” ISBN 978-9953-0-3538-3