By Hana Namrouqa

DANA BIOSPHERE RESERVE – Visitors to Dana Biosphere Reserve can now enjoy a cup of Dana’s famous herbal tea and watch cultural entrainment under the Kingdom’s first bedouin tent lit by solar energy.

The clean and environment-friendly energy source has replaced traditional kerosene and gas lanterns at the reserve’s Rummana campsite after four solar units were installed to generate power.

The panels were set up under a programme financed by the embassy of the Czech Republic that also entailed establishing two eco-friendly income-generating projects: a weaving workshop in Feynan Eco-lodge and a candle-making project.

“The solar energy project represents our vision to transform power in Dana to renewable, sustainable and clean energy,” Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) Director Yehya Khalid, said on Monday during a ceremony to launch the projects.

The weaving workshop, which employs two local bedouin women, aims at producing traditional handicrafts by manually weaving recycled fabrics, he noted.

Under the second project, candles will be produced decorated with images of Dana’s flora and fauna to be sold to tourists as souvenirs.

The project, which uses natural perfumes and dyes from the area, employs four local women from Dana village, according to the RSCN.

Czech Ambassador to Jordan Ivana Holoubkova said the embassy supports the projects in Dana Biosphere Reserve because they help protect the environment and improve the local community’s living conditions.

“Dana is a special place… we believe in what the RSCN is doing,” she said during the ceremony.

The Rummana campsite, originally a grazing area for goats during the summer, contains 20 large tents with a capacity of hosting 60 persons, two bedouin tents, an outdoor dining room area, a kitchen and showers/toilets bathrooms, according to the RSCN.

Spread over 300 square kilometres of steep mountains, deep valleys and plains, the Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest and most diverse nature reserve with 833 types of vegetation constituting 50 per cent of the total flora in Jordan.

Established in 1989, the reserve is globally important for being the southernmost remaining forest community of pencil pine and for housing three rare plants that exist only in Dana and are named after the area: the Silene danansis, Micromeria danaensis and Rubia danaeansis, according to ecologists.

Located along the Great Rift Valley with its mountains reaching 1,600 metres above sea level and dropping to 50 metres below sea level, the Dana reserve is internationally categorised as a “bottleneck site” for migrating birds, which stop over at the reserve to rest, feed and nest.