Start date 2007
Expected end date 2013
Funded by the Global Environment Facility, through the World Bank
The Jordan Rift Valley is an integral part of the Great Rift Valley and provides a globally critical land bridge between Africa, Europe, and Asia that supports a large variety of ecologically diverse habitats of international importance and funnels millions of migrating birds between these continents each year. The Valley is of strategic economic importance for its natural resources, including the Jordan River, Dead Sea, and Gulf of Aqaba. In encompasses the most productive agricultural land resources in Jordan and hence has become a focal area for infrastructure and tourism development and land conversion . The Government of Jordan has long recognized this dilemma and is seeking ways to secure the Valley’s economic and ecological integrity for the benefit of its people.
Integrated Ecosystem Management (IEM) is defined as a holistic and participatory approach to land use that balances and manages ecological, social and economic components of ecosystems to ensure that the biodiversity and ecological processes can be sustained under development pressure and social change. This approach will be applied in the Jordan Rift Valley through small-scale, targeted interventions in the current land use planning framework and through the setting up of a network of conservation sites that are developed as models of the IEM approach.
A network of sites is to be established along the Valley, consisting of four high status protected areas (PAs). ( Yarmouk, Jabal Masuda, Fifa and Qatar) in addition to seven collaboratively managed Special Conservation Areas (SCAs). The PAs cover a total area of 56.950 hectares and are all delineated on the JVAs land- use master plan. Map 1
Protected areas: Yarmouk, Jabal Masuda, Fifa and Qatar
Special Conservation Areas: Wadi Ibn Hammad , Tal Al-Arbaeen, Humrat Maeen, and Rahmah.
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Yarmouk is located in the far northwest part of Jordan to the south of Yarmouk River. The size of the PA is 20sqkm, and the estimated area of SCA is about 26sqkm. The altitude ranges from 300m above sea level to 210 m below sea level. The site is located within the Mediterranean biogeographical region of Jordan.
Yarmouk is considered of very high importance since it is located along one of the major migration flyways for birds . The site also has a high diversity of habitats and species. About 120 plant species were recorded including Deciduous Oak, The national tree of Jordan.
Yarmouk has been identified as an IBA by BirdLife International and it was also identified as a wetland of particular importance in thr Directory of wetlands of the Middle East .
It is located just to the south of the Dead Sea with a propsed size of 23sqkm but this is to be finalized in consultation with stakeholders. The PA altitude ranges between 340- 380 m below sea level .
Fifa consists of plains with sand and silt dunes covered with halophytic vegetation and sub-tropical vegetation. It has a saline soil wadi system with a small perennial stream that crosses from the south to the north and has created two oasis ecosystems. The site contains the last remnants of what was formerly a much larger area of vegetation characteristic of the Sudanian biogeographical zone.
Fifa was proposed as a protected area by RSCN in 1999. It is embedded within a larger IBA identified by BirdLife and RSCN. The site is already declared a rangeland reserve.
The unique oasis ecosystem in the area is a very important location for migratory birds. It includes more than seven plant species that are of conservation importance. The site is the only recorded locality in Jordan where the rare Siwak tree Salvadora persica occurs in considerable numbers.
Seven species of large mammals were recorded in the site including the Caracal and Striped Hyena. Around 100 species of birds have been recorded ; some are globally threatened such as the Corncrake Crex crex
The size of the proposed PA is 49sqkm, the SCAs boundaries will be agreed on upon consultation with the stakeholders. Qatar mudflat area has a very small altitude ranging from 43m to 50m a.s .l . it has a very arid climate; receiving less than 50 mm of rain per year on average .
Qatar PA and SCA consist of a nice and unique combination of different habitats; a mudflat, a wetland, sand dunes and Acacia-dominated slopes.
The mudflat vegetation is unique to the area. The Acacia woodland to the east of the highway is widely regarded as being the most representative example of this habitat in Jordan. The site also has a significant palm tree community.
Many faunal species of special concern and significance were recorded in the area including Wolf, Desert Monitor, spiny-tailed Lizard, Lesser Kestrel and Egyptian Vulture. Overgrazing and woodcutting are the major threats to the site. Further encroachment of Date Palm farms and water extraction to irrigate the farms are likely to affect the hydrology of the area and may threaten the wetland.
The PA is located in the southern part of Jordan with a size of around 300sqkm, while the exact size and boundaries of the SCA will be agreed upon with consultation with relative stakeholders. Jabal Masuda, has an altitude range of almost 1300 meters, extending from 180m a.s.l in the west to an altitudes of 1500m a.s.l to the east.
Jabal Masuda straddles three biogeographical zones; arid Mediterranean, Irano-Turanean and Saharo-Arabian. It lies in a region of the Southern Escarpment, Esh Sharrah Plateau and the Rift Valley Desert of Wadi Araba.
The area is very rugged, and the landscape is dominated by steep mountains and sandstone gorges.
In addition to its biodiversity value, the area is well known for its strikingly diverse, mixed and amazing landscape formations.
Overgrazing and woodcutting have had a significant impact on the site and have consequently affected tree and vegetation cover and related biodiversity.
Special Conservation Area
The area lies north of Karak, ranging in altitude between 800 m a.s.l and 380 m.b.s. Rocky mountainous slopes are cut by a wadi running to the Dead Sea at Ghor Haditha. All that allow the area to support many threatened plant species including Epipactis veratrifolia as well as Moringa peregina .
The area supports a number of rare animals like the Hyena and Blanford Fox. The presence of several springs holds the presence of the nationally endemic fish species Gara ghorensis and Aphanius dispar.
The area is part of a larger IBA also named wadi Hammad – Haditha, where large numbers of migrant raptors pass every year.
Over – pumping and long drought periods have resulted in sinking the ground water levels, leading to dryness of wadi stream in summer time. The lower part of the area is used for intensive agriculture while the higher part of the wadi has a very high potential for ecotourism .
The area is located at the north of Mujib Reserve and is mainly composed of a rugged mountainous area with wadi systems flowing into the Dead Sea. The wadi systems have a high biodiversity importance including a huge roosting site for Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris where around 20,000 birds come to spend the night from autumn to spring.
The area has a large colony of Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis. Few pairs of Barbary falcon Falco pelegrinoides and Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus were recorded breeding in the area.
The site is used by the local communities mostly for winter grazing. The remaining tamarisk woodland of Swaimeh is also considered as a satellite site that will be treated as part of this SCA
It is considered one of the most pristine areas of desert in wadi araba. It is comprised of a mixture of seasonal wadi systems that meet an outstanding series of undulating sand dunes. The total surface area of this SCA could become the first community –managed conservation area in Jordan that would incorporate biodiversity conservation with ecotourism enterprises and other socio- economic development initiatives
The area is located along the largest part of the eastern portion of Yarmouk River and it covers the slopes that overlook the river from the south.
The elevation ranges from 120.0m bsl in the north western parts of the SCA to 380.0 m asl in the south western parts of the SCA , it is the extension to the PA from east and northern east boundary. the climate is typical Mediterranean, with hot summer days and cool to cold winter days