by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 23, 2012

AMMAN — Reservoirs and control towers are being erected in the Kingdom’s forests in the north to curb illegal logging and forest fires, which have destroyed over 4,000 trees this year, according to officials.

Under a plan to address the rising number of violations on the Kingdom’s shrinking forests, the Ministry of Agriculture is constructing two reservoirs and three control towers in the north.

“Two reservoirs, each with a capacity of 100 cubic metres, are being constructed in Jerash and Ajloun. They will serve as an additional emergency source of water for extinguishing fires, especially in the remote parts of the forests,” Mohammad Shorman, director of the forestry department at the Ministry of Agriculture, told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

In addition, three control towers, two in Jerash and one in Ajloun, are being constructed in hilly areas overlooking the northern region’s forests, Shorman highlighted.

Rangers stationed at the towers will be able to monitor illegal logging activities and report fires as soon as they start, the official said.

“The towers and reservoirs, which are funded by the Greek government and will be ready within two months, are being built in Ajloun and Jerash because they are home to 80 per cent of Jordan’s forests,” Shorman noted.

Illegal logging during winter, wildfires during summer and insufficient rain due to climate change are the main threats to Jordan’s shrinking green cover, which stands at less than 1 per cent of the country’s total landscape, according to experts.

Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said that the ministry sought to increase the number of reservoirs and control towers to cover the country’s forests, but said funding was needed to do so.

Agriculture officials have said that deliberate fires are on the rise, with more than 10 fires recorded during Ramadan.

Haddadin stated previously that many of these fires are set intentionally in order to justify illegal logging.

Nearly 200 centennial forest trees in Ajloun were burned down this month in a fire that authorities described as an “act of sabotage”. The majority of the destroyed trees were Aleppo pines, pistacias, maples and oaks aged between 200 and 400 years.