By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Schoolchildren and people from all walks of life will converge on the Dibbeen Forest Reserve on Saturday to clean up litter left by picnickers at the site, which is considered a sanctuary for globally endangered species.

More than 200 volunteers from schools, and public, private and civic institutions will head to the reserve, located in the northern Governorate of Ajloun, as part of a clean-up campaign that seeks to discourage people from littering, and to preserve the Kingdom’s limited green cover, organisers said on Wednesday.

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which is organising the initiative, invited the public to take part at the event, stressing that “children are welcome”.

Buses for those wishing to take part at the event will depart from the RSCN headquarters in Jubeiha at 9:00am; the event starts at 10:00am and ends at noon, according to the RSCN.

“The goal of the campaign is to tell people that Dibbeen and the rest of Jordan’s beautiful sites are open to the public, but some visitors damage them,” RSCN membership programme director Hana Banna told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The Dibbeen forest is home to at least 17 threatened species and globally significant biodiversity.

“People don’t seem to cooperate, garbage bags are distributed to visitors at the entrance, but some continue to litter. The campaign and other round-the-year efforts are trying to prevent this behaviour,” Banna noted.

Despite numerous campaigns against littering in public places and forests, the public continues to ignore laws criminalising the practice, as well as ethics for maintaining clean surroundings, according to environmentalists.

Many motorists still throw trash out of their car windows, while picnickers enjoy the country’s limited green forests and then leave the site littered with garbage and plastic bags, thus threatening the fragile environment and jeopardising the lives of animals.

Sociologists blame the phenomenon on an “absence of a sense of belonging to a place”, while environmental activists call for stricter penalties against violators of environmental regulations.

The clean-up campaign at the Dibbeen Forest Reserve is part of the 2010 Clean Up the World Campaign, which started in 1989 when Australian yachtsman and builder Ian Kiernan, appalled by the amount of rubbish he came across while sailing, organised a clean up of Sydney Harbour.

Some 40,000 volunteers removed rusted car bodies, plastic, glass bottles and cigarette butts from the water, according to

The campaign went global in 1993, with Sydney becoming Clean Up the World’s headquarters, gathering hundreds of members from around the globe, from local community groups to national campaigns, who carry out environmental projects throughout the year, according to the website.