By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Students across the country will soon be acquainted with the dangers facing biological diversity in Jordan, home to scores of regionally and globally endangered species.

Under the “Environment and Agriculture” competition, launched this week by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), thousands of students will be encouraged to preserve the country’s environment and biological diversity.

The competition includes questionnaires on environment-related topics, designed to familiarise schoolchildren with the challenges facing Jordan’s environment, Mervat Batarseh, head of the RSCN environmental education department, said yesterday.

“Environmental education is a long-term strategy to preserve biological diversity by teaching about wildlife and Jordan’s biological diversity in schools,” she told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Batarseh noted that the competition will boost students’ knowledge and skills, as well as encourage environment-friendly practices.

“Eventually, children will start thinking about environmental problems in their areas and come up with solutions,” she added.

Batarseh pointed out that the competition is part of the RSCN’s efforts to produce a new generation of Jordanians who are aware of the threats to the Kingdom’s environment.

Jordan is divided into four different bio-geographical zones: The Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian and Sudanian penetration. Within these diverse zones there are 13 different vegetation types, each representing different elements of flora and fauna, according to the RSCN.

Despite the Kingdom’s rich biodiversity, it faces many threats as reflected by the national and global status of many species and their habitats.

Several globally threatened species of mammals exist in Jordan, including Nubian Ibex, Geoffroy’s Bat and Mountain Gazelle.

In addition, Jordan’s location along the Great Rift Valley makes the country one of the most important flyways for migratory birds, according to the RSCN.

Hundreds of thousands of birds cross the area annually, some of which are globally threatened, such as the Corncrake (crex crex).

The country’s flora comprises around 2,500 species of vascular plants, representing about 1 per cent of the total flora in the world.

A total of 349 plant species recorded in Jordan are considered to be rare, and 76 are threatened species, in addition to 18 species listed on the IUCN lists.

Pollution, random hunting, illegal logging, desertification and the construction boom damage the natural habitat of animals and are among the main threats facing biological diversity in the country, environmentalists say.