by Hana Namrouqa | Jun 24, 2012 | 23:13

AMMAN — After a study showed that fewer than one in five of the Kingdom’s 400,000 school-age Facebook users showed interest in environmental issues, conservationists have launched a campaign to educate young people using social media.

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) recently carried out a survey to identify and analyse the activities and interests of Jordanians under the age of 18 via Facebook, and found out that for most of them, the environment was not among their interests.

“Only 18 per cent said that they were interested in environmental and biodiversity issues. Our challenge is now to figure out how to attract schoolchildren and make them care about the environment,” Mervat Batarseh, head of the environmental education department at the RSCN, said.

To educate schoolchildren on the Kingdom’s biodiversity and encourage them to protect the environment, the RSCN on Sunday launched the Educate for Nature campaign, which will harness social media to educate young people about conservation.

The campaign entails setting up a blog for students to submit opinion articles on topics related to the environment and a Facebook account that allows them to share information, photos and videos of the Kingdom’s rare fauna and flora, Batarseh said.

“Our Facebook account was created only a month ago and our target was 500 friends. Within three weeks, the number of friends reached more than 3,000,” Batarseh added.

This level of interest, the RSCN official underscored, indicates that students can become interested in the environment if they are approached in the right way.

“Fifty per cent of our fans are between 13-and 17-years-old, which is excellent, and 30 per cent are between 18- and 24-years old. The rest are either teachers or adults interested in the environment,” Batarseh noted.

Bayan Abdullah said she uploads and shares photos and videos of her town, Homret Maeen, on the campaign’s Facebook page.

“I share photos of my town’s beautiful trees, animals and birds with friends. I also visit nature reserves and then upload the photos so that everyone can see how beautiful our country is,” the 14-year-old added.

During the launch of the campaign, RSCN Director General Yehya Khaled said social media had become a vital means of delivering messages and spreading information about the environment.

“There are over 2.194 million Facebook users in Jordan. We can’t neglect social networks as tools to protect nature,” Khaled highlighted.