475 forest trees destroyed in Dibbeen forest wildfire

Saturday, August 23, 2014

AMMAN — More than 400 trees in the Dibbeen Forest Reserve were destroyed in a wildfire on Friday, the reserve’s director, Bashir Ayasrah, said on Saturday.

The fire started at around 4pm and was extinguished after more than four hours, he said, noting that it destroyed 475 forest trees spread over 20 dunums.

“Several factors helped the wildfire rage yesterday, including high temperatures, dry broken branches, the area’s difficult topography and the spread of shells and ammunition, which are remnants of the 1970 war,” Ayasrah told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Dozens of Jerash Civil Defence Department (CDD) firefighters, Rangers from the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), personnel from the Jerash Agriculture Department, and members of the Royal Engineering Corps worked to put out the fire, in cooperation with the Royal Air Force, which dispatched a helicopter to help extinguish the blaze.

“A report on the damages shows that the destroyed trees are mainly Aleppo pines, oaks and maple trees,” Ayasrah noted.

Meanwhile, a CDD officer said the authorities are currently investigating the cause of the fire, added that there were no casualties.

The Dibbeen Forest Reserve represents the world’s last remaining southeastern community of Aleppo pines.

Situated in Jerash Governorate, 48km north of Amman, the forest reserve was established in 2004 with the aim of protecting Aleppo pines, particularly as Dibbeen is the driest part of the world in which they naturally grow, with an average rainfall of around 400 millimetres per year, according to the RSCN.

The Dibbeen forest is home to at least 17 threatened species, including the Persian squirrel, in addition to over a quarter of the butterfly species that exist in the Kingdom. It extends over 8.5 square kilometres of mountainous topography, rich with pine and oak trees.