The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization "UNESCO" has included 20 new sites in 21 countries to its World Network of Biosphere Reserves that aim to reconcile economic development and nature conservation, including Libya’s Al-Shaafin Reserve, located in Msallata town.

In a statement, UNESCO stated that Al-Shaafin is the first biosphere reserve in Libya, and its biogeographic mountainous region in the Mediterranean basin includes a variety of supporting habitats of dry forests and grassy steppes in the north and the very arid southern regions of the Sahara Desert.

It also indicated that this reserve is home to a variety of rare and endangered species, such as medicinal and aromatic plants, and animal species included in the Red List of Threatened Species issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

UNESCO selects annually a number of sites classified as new biosphere reserves with the aim of promoting sustainable development, protecting terrestrial, marine, and coastal ecosystems, and encouraging biodiversity conservation efforts. This is the first time that Libya joins the list of countries that embrace this type of reserve.