Having 350 forest trees consumed by fire would be a big loss for many countries, but for Jordan it is a catastrophe.
This is the number of trees destroyed in Dibeen recently by a criminal hand, according to the Civil Defence Department, whose initial investigation suggested arson.
This is not the first time Jordan has lost precious trees as forests continue to be victim of negligence, criminal or otherwise, and culprits often escape accountability.
Already poor in green spaces, the country has seen, in the course of years, repeated attempts at planting trees. Even in the most successful such endeavours, it takes many long years for saplings to grow into mature trees. Seeing them destroyed in no time is painful and damaging to the ecosystem of the country.
Those found responsible for forest fires have to be held accountable. If anything, pertinent legislation should be stiffer and stricter. Then, perhaps, careless or criminal individuals will think twice before starting a fire in nature.
No less important is to have rangers and
firefighters deployed in or close to the forested areas of the country.
There are very few forests in the Kingdom, so it should not be difficult, or financially cumbersome, to hire such officials to mind them.
To that end, there may be need to revisit the laws on forests and adopt a more comprehensive legislation that deals with all the dimensions of the problem.
Meanwhile the country requires a sustained campaign to increase the number of forest trees in all regions and to select trees suitable to the climate of the different areas.
Such a plan of action would necessitate government appropriation, with all that it entails, and that comes with a price tag.
Knowing the benefits, however, it will be one worth paying.
More trees mean more rain and more gain.
Afforestation programmes have to be implemented without delay. Trees increase carbon capture, help improve biodiversity and the environment by keeping at bay desertification and topsoil erosion, improve climate and, generally, make life more beautiful.
The issue is important and should not be shelved just because it does not have an immediate impact on citizens’ lives.
Even if the following generations get to enjoy them, trees are worth planting and preserving.