Umm Al-Rihan forest

Date of Submission: 02/04/2012
Criteria: (x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO
Coordinates: N32 32 01 E35 09 05
Ref.: 5721

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Umm Al-Rihan Forest consists of a series of dense forests, which are estimated to be circa 60.000 dunums. The forests surrounding Jenin are considered to be the largest woodlands in the West Bank, forming approximately 86% of the forests. The area of Umm Al-Rihan is state-owned and part of the area is proposed as a natural reserve.

This region, with an environmental system that resembles the Mediterranean Seaforest, lies within the semi coastal region. The most important characteristic of this region is being a pathway and a stop over for migratory birds travelling from the coastal region and going to the depression areas. The most important birds that pass by the area are species that are threatened or declining throughout all or large parts of their range in theMiddle East, such as Lesser Kestrel, Honey Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture. In addition to other fauna species that are known to be endangered such as wolves and red foxes.

The woodland area is a reservoir of plant diversity, containing mainly the original wild species of barley and wheat, in addition to most of the original wild species of the fruiting trees.

Geographic location:

Umm Al-Rihan Forest is located in the extreme of the West Bank, northwest of Jenin, bordering the 1967 Green Line. Its altitude reaches an average of 412 m above sea level.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The site is the main and the biggest natural forest remaining in the West Bank that represents the Mediterranean bio-geographical ecosystem. Moreover, this site is considered as one of the main bird areas in the West Bank, mainly for migratory birds of which some pass in thousands yearly. This nature reserve is considered of high importance for wild genetic resources, in Palestine particularly the wild original species of barley, wheat and fruity trees.

Criteria met:

criterion (x): the abundance of the endemic flora and fauna, including threatened and endangered species, in the area of Umm Al-Rihan makes of this site one of the last spontaneous Mediterranean forests in the Middle East. Therefore, the site is proposed to represent a case for on-site conservation and research of theEastern Mediterranean Basinin land forest ecosystem.

The indigenous plants that exist in the area of Umm Al-Rihan forest creates a special habitat that maintains diverse fauna species, becoming an area that is important as a roosting and nesting place for many passerines and other breeding or migratory birds.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The woodlands at Umm Al-Rihan display a considerable degree of integrity according to conservation parameters of the flora and fauna.

Comparison with other similar properties

There are no Mediterranean Forests in the Eastern part of the Basin inscribed on the World Heritage list: similar properties for comparison are in Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey.