Established in 1987, Ajloun Forest Reserve covers an area of 13 km2 located in the Ajloun highlands north of Amman. It consists of Mediterranean-like hill country, ranging from 600 - 1100 m above sea level, with a series of small and medium winding valleys.
Ajloun forest was first proposed as a protected area in the 1978 survey. Its ecological importance is represented by the Evergreen Oak vegetation type, which is typical of the northern highlands of Jordan. As part of the Mediterranean bio-geographical region of the country, it is dominated by open woodlands that account for a significant part of Jordan’s forested area, which does not exceed 1% of the country’s entire land area.
Along with stretches of Evergreen Oak Quercus calliprinos, the thriving woodlands of Ajloun are dominated by Carob Ceratonia siliqua, wild Pistachio Pistacia palaestina and Strawberry tree Arbutus andrachne. Throughout the years, these trees have been important to local people for their wood and quite often for their medicinal and nutritional value or simply as a food source. These woodlands also support a wide range of plant and animal biodiversity, including herds of wild boar Sus scrofa, the Stone Marten Martes foina, which is a carnivore that is known to be restricted to forest habitats, and the golden Jackal Canis aureus, which can still be found in good numbers in and around the reserve, as well as the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Persian Squirrel Sciurus anomalus, Indian Crested Porcupine Hystrix indica, and wolf Canis lupus. A wide variety of wild flowers thrive in Ajloun forest, including the Black Iris, several orchids and wild tulips, several of which can be found in CITES appendices. In 2000, Ajloun Forest Reserve was announced, by BirdLife International and RSCN, as an Important Bird Area in Jordan.
After the reserves establishment, RSCN initiated a captive breeding program aiming to reintroduce the locally extinct Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus. The Roe Deer is adapted to forest habitats, and feeds on a variety of trees, shrubs and grasses. The rich forests that covered the Ajloun area once provided an ideal habitat for this noble creature, but deforestation over the past 200 years led to the extinction of the Roe Deer in Jordan. Since launching its captive breeding program at Ajloun Forest Reserve in 1988, RSCN has managed to release a number of Roe Deer into the reserve, where they have continued to grow within their natural habitat.
Ajloun Forest Reserve still faces several threats, as the shape of the reserve and its borders have been negatively affected by the presence of private lands around it. Presently, this has led to several problems in managing the reserve, due to the existence of many unofficial access points into the reserve, allowing people to enter the reserve for the illegal purpose of woodcutting, grazing or hunting.
Nonetheless, Ajloun Forest Reserve has one of the most effective outreach and public awareness programs among Jordan’s nature reserves. This has led to the raised awareness of the local communities inhabiting the area, emphasizing the importance of the reserve and its maintenance. For this reason, RSCN has managed to establish several initiatives of cooperation between the reserve and the people living around the reserve.