by Hana Namrouqa | Aug 12, 2012

AMMAN — A group of environmental societies on Sunday urged the government to withdraw its approval of a request by an investment company to uproot hundreds of trees from central Amman.

The Abdali development project, which is building towers and commercial boulevards in Abdali in central Amman, has requested permission to remove nearly 750 trees.

A senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that the ministry had refused the company’s request to remove the trees and proposed altering the blueprints instead, but was overruled by a Cabinet decision.

“We were surprised and furious when the Cabinet granted the company approval to cut down the trees,” the official told The Jordan Times.

The Cabinet approved uprooting 541 trees instead of 750 and ordered the company to plant five trees in return for every uprooted one, the official noted, adding that 2,705 trees will be planted on a plot of land in Mafraq.

But the Jordan Environment Societies Union said replacing the trees was not an acceptable compromise.

“One tree represents an integrated and independent ecosystem. It is not only a tree which can be replaced by another, it is old and must be protected,” the union’s spokesperson, Omar Shoshan, highlighted, pointing out that some of the trees which will be uprooted are between 80 and 90 years old.

Shoshan stressed that the trees must be protected because Amman “is turning into a block of cement” and lacks green spaces.

“We urge the government to reconsider its decision and withdraw the approval,” Shoshan said. “We will not be silent.”

A public campaign will be organised to stop the removal of trees from Abdali, he added.

The Jordan Environment Societies Union, which was formed recently and has not yet been officially launched, comprises Jordan’s main environmental societies, including the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, the Jordan Environment Society, the Jordan Green Building Council, the Society of Energy Saving and Sustainable Environment, the Jordanian Society for Desertification Control and Badia Development, the Royal Botanic Garden and the Royal Marine Conservation Society, among others.