Farid & Daad Karam Reserve (FDKR)
Dr Farid Karam, a native of Kaftoun, a town located in the Koura district, established the Farid & Daad Karam Reserve (FDKR) in the year 2000. Through landscaping an area of 60,000 m2 of his private property, and equipping it with the proper tools, the FDKR became devoted to environmental activities and practices.
As activities increased, the FDKR became a destination to all nature-loving individuals and entities. Managing the overseeing and maintenance of the reserve needed additional support, prompting Dr Karam to donate the FDKR to the University of Balamand (UOB), a major institution that pledged to carry the task and legacy in a sustainably conscious manner. UOB took possession of FDKR in 2007, thus becoming the only educational institution that hosts a nature reserve, in Lebanon.
The FDKR is a wild piece of forested land, located on the Eastern flanks of Kaftoun, and is easily accessible by car from neighboring towns and the capital Beirut. It harbors a historic stone building that can accommodate various activities, from meetings, to social gatherings, and overnight camping. The plot also has an open-air amphitheater with a capacity of over 350 people, where community activities, from artistic and educational events, celebrations, seminars, to other traditional camping activities, can be hosted. The unique altitude of the reserve, ranging between 300 and 450 meters, made it home to an estimated 182 different species of perennial and annual plants and several wild animals. It also includes a well that satisfies the water needs of the reserve, with the excess provided to the local community. Over 2000 visitors come annually to enjoy the serenity of the space, with the intention of camping in its 500 m2 specially fitted land, or to picnic, as well as enjoy walks amongst the rich local forest landscape.
The University of Balamand has been managing the FDKR, as requested by Dr Karam, in a manner that preserves its wild nature, and that provides the environmental education to all its visitors. In addition, the FDKR has become a natural laboratory where several practical classes are held, highlighting the significance of Ecology and representing the reference for clean atmosphere. Several funded projects also used the FDKR as a field of experimental implementation, for both scientific discovery and social awareness. It remains a model for students and the extended community, that mindful design and management can preserve natural wonders and protect local environments.