Session tackles future of Jordan's biodiversity, reserves

Thursday, January 16, 2020

AMMAN — The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) on Thursday hosted a session titled “Future of Natural Reserves in the Context of Sustainable Development” to discuss stakeholders' shared responsibility towards environmental protection, specifically regarding nature reserves.

The session, conducted in cooperation with Edama for Energy, Water and Environment and with support from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), was attended by HRH Princess Alia, HRH Princess Basma Bint Ali, Minister of Environment Saleh Kharabsheh, RSCN President Khaled Irani, Edama President Doraid Mahasnah and policy makers, as well as representatives of the GIZ and environmental activists, in addition to members of the media.

“The environment is an umbrella concept that embraces all biodiversity of the Kingdom and is not limited to natural reserves,” Princess Alia said.

Jordan’s regulations "properly protect" the environment, however, to have a greater impact, attention must be given to applying such laws that safeguard nature, Princess Alia added. 

Jordan needs to conduct a full evaluation of its ecosystem services, not just focus on their financial returns, Princess Basma said during the session.

”Through assessing the impact of the Kingdom’s ecosystem services on citizens’ lives, the scientific and practical value of biodiversity will be more deeply understood,” she added.

The Ministry of Environment, in cooperation with various stakeholders, aims at increasing the area of protected biodiversity in Jordan from 4 per cent of the Kingdom's total area to 17 per cent, Kharabsheh said.

The session took place nearly a week after the Southern Military Zone Command halted its activities in Fifa Reserve on January 10, which had resulted in the uprooting of trees on 1,600 dunums in a six-kilometre-long plot of land within the reserve's boundaries.

“What happened in Fifa Reserve, which harmed its local biodiversity, is a lesson learned. Now there is the aim of greater engagement between concerned parties, making it a platform for greater awareness,” Kharabsheh said.

Scientific studies are scheduled to be carried out by the ministry with the support of the RSCN focused on the protection of natural reserves, Kharabsheh announced. 

“Today’s gathering reaffirms Jordan’s emphasis on the environment, as a melting pot for biodiversity from three continents,” the RSCN president said during the commencement of the session.

Jordan is located on one of the most vital bird migration routes, as the Jordan Rift Valley is a key transit point for birds coming from Europe to Africa, Irani said, adding that this makes it an "ethical imperative" to protect these birds.

The RSCN is mandated by the ministries of Environment and Agriculture to manage nature conservation in the Kingdom, Irani said.

“Our role is to concentrate on the future of protected areas. Consequently, reserves’ sites are selected upon global and local studies and criteria, with the aim of having ecosystems representative of exceptional and rare biodiversity,” he noted. 

Nature reserves are Jordan’s “natural heritage”, and should not be compromised, Irani stressed, adding that natural reserves cover about 4 per cent of Jordan’s area and that there are 10 protected areas in the Kingdom, including Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, Azraq Wetland Reserve, Mujib Biosphere Reserve, Ajloun Forest Reserve and Fifa Nature Reserve.

International recognition and attention has been given to Jordan’s protected areas, which are included on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, in addition to receiving other awards, Irani noted.

The session also covered environmental challenges, such as water shortage and destruction of environmental areas, in addition to poaching and other issues.

Source: Jordan Times