A quarry can be basically defined
as an area where various types of rocks comprising limestone, marble and
granite are obtained to be used in several fields of industry and
manufacturing. After the drainage and consumption of all the required resources
from the quarries, they usually are abandoned and neglected. The holes resulted
from this quarrying are either filled with water forming hazardous and
dangerous quarry lakes, or they can become an unappealing and repulsive dumping
ground; either cases, they leave unpleasant scars in the environment and its
landscape. Residents located in urban districts located not so far from
quarries are exposed to various types of pollution, along with the inconvenience
of being near a deserted quarry, which can be beyond doubt an indisputable and
evident distortion that last for long even if the extracting processes are
over. The most appropriate methodology to deal with these abandoned and
forsaken quarries is through sustainable rehabilitation. The objective of the
rehabilitation is mainly to stimulate and support the practices of restoring
and reconstructing the zones affected by quarrying and excavation by
transforming them into expanses fitting for new viable and sustainable land
In spite of the fact that
quarrying is considered to be an unpropitious industry that can disturb the
environment and the public, its importance is absolute. In order to perpetuate
the human civilization and culture the way it was during the industrial
revolution, it is indispensable to recuperate the resources obtained
from quarrying practices for construction and infrastructure (highways, roads,
etc.) using cement, asphalt, crushed stone and concrete. Worldwide a massive
number of individuals make their living by working in the quarrying industry; thus
tackling the elimination this specific production can cost numerous families their
incomes. Subsequently, to resolve the critical consequences accompanying
quarrying, it is crucial to make use of the drained spreads in diverse ways
when the quarries are no longer functional. The possible variations of
quarrying locations to diverse sustainable uses can contribute in remedying the
adverse results of quarrying in addition to generating sites with enhanced
communal and environmental conditions. Quarries have an adverse impact on the
environment, which comprises air, water, soil and noise pollution as well as
their influence on land use, biodiversity and the land form and nature. Thus, a
high importance of implementing strategies and guidelines that endeavor to
enhance and develop the economic and the environmental state, so as to spare
the environment more corrosion, to safeguard it and guarantee the environmental
value, which requires an active and prominent public involvement along with the
government’s cooperation with the community, project investors, local
consultants and eco-friendly groups and organizations. The number of quarries
in Lebanon increased from 784 to 1278 between 1989 and 2005 (FAO, 2012), and
quarried areas almost doubled since then till 2011.
The Mseilha Fort, also known as “Puy du
Connétable”, is a medieval fortification situated north of the city of
Batroun in Lebanon. The origin of the Mseilha fortress was disputed for a long
time, between being built by the crusaders or by the Arabs. Recently, opinion
is more inclined to trust that it was built during the Ayyubid princes of
Aleppo’s rule in the 13th-14th century. This concerned branch of the Ayyubid
royal family were direct descendants of
al-Malik al-Ghazi, King of Aleppo, Saladin’s “favorite” son, living
principally in a half-dozen western
villages in what is currently known as the District of Koura villages (H.
Situated on a long, narrow
limestone rock adjacent to the Nahr el-Jawz River, its walls are fabricated of
small sandstone blocks quarried from the nearby coast and built onto the edge
of the limestone rock. The Fort is neighbored by two abandoned limestone
quarries that have not been rehabilitated and a newly constructed dam
Objectives and Questions
Rehabilitation of a quarry site
located near a historical monument is not an easy task.
The question is, is it possible
and worthy to rehabilitate such a site?
If so, according to what laws,
and how shall it be done?
Are the surrounding society and
neighboring residents with or against this rehabilitation process and why?
The proposed project aims to give
back the value of this historical fort with full contribution to the landscape
surrounding it and full commitment to sustainable design methods and
The restoration initiatives
Favoring landscape integration within the
Targeting site naturality (appearance and
Restoring the native vegetation cover;
Limiting soil erosion;
Improving biodiversity onsite through habitat
creation and management;
Serving for educational, touristic, events and
Minimizing adverse long-term environmental,
social and economic impacts after quarry closure;
Returning land to a beneficial post-quarrying
use, balancing environmental, social and economic factors;
Making the site safe and stable for future land
Creating a public space with entertaining
activities for everyone.
In order to respond to these questions
and reach these aims, the inquiry plans a system that analyzes the landscape
literature approach to outline the concepts and highlight the principles that
will guide the development of landscape design system for abandoned quarry
support this research methodology, the following literature review will discuss
the negative impacts of abandoned quarries on the environment and on the
economy of the area, the importance and significance of the Mseilha fort and
the new approaches of rehabilitation of abandoned quarries and their
re-integration into the surrounding environment.
The main objective of this review is to
bring together the abandoned quarry, the nearby fortress and the surrounding
nature and forest in a in a way that amalgamates all three into one whole
entity, yet still giving each its value.
quarries’ impacts on the environment
Quarrying in Lebanon has
disrupted natural landscapes and some quarry operations have caused structural
damages to nearby houses from blasting, along with noise and air (dust)
Damages to natural habitats and vegetation, the natural hydrology of many sites
(e.g. springs dry up), alteration of geological formations (caves, abysses) and
damages to sensitive ecosystems near natural heritage sites have been observed
(ECODIT & MOE 2001).
By the end of the excavation
processes, and in the absence of any restoration, quarries are left to endure
sustained degradation towards amplified ecosystem corrosion, surface runoff,
speeded erosion and reduced natural recharge. If the site is only left for
natural recovery, natural dynamics processes are only able to restore the prior
fundamental conditions and ecological utilities after a period which might
surpass 25 years (DARWISH et al., 2007).
The dust resulting from excavation procedures
in quarries or from heavy equipment vehicles and trucks’ circulations on dirt
roads is considered the main air pollutant. Dust mostly comprises Calcium
Carbonate, as well as a rather not small amount of Silicon dioxide, a
carcinogen when inhaled. Besides reducing the soil’s fertility by clogging its
pores, dust particles also effect the bio-metabolism of leaves on surrounding
trees. In addition to the dust, air pollution is also caused by the gas
emissions resulting from the heavy machinery and transportation vehicles used
on site, which include Sulfur dioxide, Carbon Monoxide gas, Nitrogen dioxide,
hydrocarbons and Lead compounds.
• Water pollution
Anthropological waste; solid waste, oils and
fuels from trucks and others are principal sources of water contamination,
accompanied by operational quarries which effect water sources.
• Soil pollution
With time, dust caused by
quarries affects the physical and chemical features of the soil, along with the
alteration of the soil texture, where the small particles displace due to storm
water runoff and are stored in low agricultural lands. According to Darwish et
al., this causes loss of soils and unfortunately, productive soils also
decrease in surface (Table 1) (Graph 1).
Table 1. Soil loss by quarries in Lebanon. Source: Darwish et
Graph 1. Percentage of soil loss due to quarries in Lebanon.
Source: Darwish et al., 2010
Graph 2. Percentage of Quarries’ effects on land use. Source:
Darwish et al., 2010.
Impacts on land use
The unplanned arrangement of quarries has a
harmful influence on:
– Land use, not
only restricted to the region of the quarry but it prolongs to the near
grounds, fields and domestic areas, and that is observed through the constant
regression of fields and agricultural lands in aggregations of quarries, which
in the long run results in the loss of these properties.
– Grazing areas
decrease in quality and quantity in zones close to quarries, thus having a
negative impact on the grazing areas that lose their rich vegetation cover.
agricultural routes that were occupied by quarries and the greed of their
possessors, who exploited them, oriented them towards the quarries, resulting
in the dispersal of damaging dust from the trucks and heavy machinery.
(Lintukangas, Suihkonen, Salomäki, &
Selonen, 2012, p. 123-134)
on the biodiversity
Quarries have influenced the flora and fauna
immeasurably due to the following causes:
quarries on pastoral spaces, cause the demolishing of the natural flora in
addition to animals and plants diversity.
– The proximity
of quarries to the areas and the hazard they pose whenever being situated on
the margin of different agricultural ecosystems.
Impacts on the land shape
The abandoning of quarries without their retransformation
– Deformation of
the natural conditions of the area, which has a negative influence on the form
of the land and the landscape scenery.
depressions caused by excavations and rock extractions along with the
deficiency of the means of security and public welfare.
– Demolishing the
adjacent parcels, endangering the lives of all living beings and not
implementing a safety zone for each quarry (mainly due to the absence of laws
and standardizations that give the necessary permits and licenses, and the
pursue of the governing authority on the engagement to these regulations).
unsystematic ramification of quarries induces soil draining in the study area.
– Relocating the
left-overs produced from quarries to agricultural areas and creating artificial
industrialized highlands which twice the damage.
the strategic resources
The use of explosives to blow up fragile rock
strata cause the decaying of the lower and neighboring rocks which become
weaker and easier to collapse at any time, thus risking the ecosystem and
2.2.2. Abandoned quarries impact
on the real estate value
A quarry survey conducted in 2002
aimed to assess the impact of five quarries on land and housing prices were
selected in the Mount-Lebanon Province. The cost covered the decrease in real
estate process as a result of the deterioration of the aesthetic value of the
landscape in 5 selected regions. This price decrease ranged between 16 and 45%
for apartments and 16 to 71% for lands overlooking quarries. The total cost of
environmental degradation resulting from these five quarries, in terms of a
decrease in land and housing prices exceeded 90 million US dollars. (World
2.3. Importance and
significance of the Mseilha Fort
The quarry in the area of Mseilha Castle was selected due to the latter’s
historic and cultural value and also being classified according to
ABQUAR project, among the most pressing quarries to be rehabilitated according
to the following criteria: Type of exploitation, Environmental and visual
impact, Impact on public safety, Proximity to river, Geographical location,
Proximity to archaeological or touristic site and the Site location and its
effectiveness in acting as a successful rehabilitation model and a means to
raise public awareness.
Mseilha Castle is located about 64 kilometers north of the
capital, Beirut. Its origin had been unclear for a long time, whether being
built by the Crusaders or by the Arabs. In recent times, it is more believed
that it was built during the Ayyubid princes of Aleppo’s rule in the 13-14th
century. This concerned branch of the Ayyubid royal family were direct
descendants of al-Malik az-Zahir al-Ghazi, King of Aleppo, Saladin’s “favorite”
son, living mainly in a half-dozen western villages in what is currently known
as the District of Koura villages (H. Harajli).
“Mseilha” in Arabic means a
‘fortified place’. Its location used to be inspiring (and perhaps still is),
with a small river passing by the castle’s southern hill and by apricot
orchards and gardens on its eastern one, while a “picturesque old Arab bridge
beckons travelers from the south to approach its apparently inaccessible flanks”
(H. Harajli). Picture 1 exposes the Mseilha Castle and the natural landscape
surrounding it during the 1960s, before any quarrying activities.
Picture 1.Mseilha Fort during the 1960s. Source: Darwish et al., 2010.
The Roman north-south road passed
through the M. Castle valley and traces of a well-built Roman canal, including
a partly buried stonework arch can still be seen. The foot path of today,
covered with loose stones, combines at intervals stonework of the canal or
remains of the road (H. Harajli).
The well-preserved outer walls of
the fortress (Picture 2), which is in buff sandstone of a type of workmanship
identified with Crusaders (which is one of the main reasons debate continuous
more or less as to the origin of the M. Castle), rise flush with the sheer rock
of the peak so that one cannot go around them. Entry into the castle is by a
steep stone staircase on the northwest side, which leads to a small, low arched
doorway – the only one in the outer wall (H. Harajli).
Picture 2. Mseilha Castle’s Outer wall and
Moreover, and before the
devaluation of the Lebanese Lira2
during (and after) the civil war, Mseilha Castle was printed on the national
twenty-five Lira bill as shown in Picture 3, thus showing its importance on the
cultural and international level.
Picture 3. Mseilha Castle printed on a 25
Lebanese Lira Bill. Source: Personal
2.4. New approaches of rehabilitation of abandoned quarries
The DAH Study (1996) sampled the
progress achieved towards the restoration or rehabilitation of a number of
abandoned quarries, using the number of trees planted at the quarry site as
proxy for rehabilitation attempts, observed whether restoration of any form has
been undertaken, or whether natural regeneration was taking place. Table 2
presents the results obtained, indicating the unremarkable effort undertaken to
rehabilitate quarries in Lebanon (DAH 1996):
Table 2. Restoration and
natural regeneration of quarries in Lebanon Source: DAH, 1996
The survey carried out by DAH
indicates that “very little activity towards rehabilitation is taking place and
that the greater majority of quarries in the country remain in a condition
which has a detrimental effect on the landscape” (DAH 1996).
A study undertaken by the World Bank entitled the “Cost of Environmental
Degradation: The Case of Lebanon and Tunisia” focusing on land and apartment
prices around five major quarries in Lebanon, estimated that the cost in the
form of decreased land and apartment prices around these five quarries exceeded
$90 million (The World Bank 2004).
The Lebanese Lira is the main currency in Lebanon (currently under a fixed
exchange rate system, $1USD ? 1500 LL).