by Hana Namrouqa | Nov 21, 2013 | 21:56

AMMAN — Restoration work on Dana Village, a gateway for the Dana Biosphere Reserve, is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of next year, a conservationist said on Thursday.

“Properties and houses under restoration in Dana Village will be handed over to their owners in March next year,” Dana Biosphere Reserve Director Amer Rfou told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Reconstruction work on the village, which sits on a cliff overlooking the Dana reserve, began in 2011 as part of a USAID-funded $2-million project that aims to transform the site into Jordan’s first heritage village. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) is implementing the project, under which the village’s infrastructure is being revamped.

The houses are being turned into small hotels, souvenir shops, studio apartments, laundromats, Internet cafés and barber shops among other facilities, to offer tourists a taste of Jordan’s heritage and culture, according to RSCN.

The three-year project was implemented in several phases to preserve the heritage value of over 300 old houses in the village, which is built on the ruins of a Byzantine castle.

Situated on a cliff which overlooks the mountains and valleys of the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the village used to be a bustling community of over 300 families, but its inhabitants left in pursuit of better health, education and employment opportunities, according to RSCN officials.

Rfou said the rehabilitation of the village is one of many projects that will be completed next year to improve tourist services in Dana and attract more visitors.

“More facilities will be linked to the reserve’s solar power system and parks for families and children will be constructed near the visitors centre,” he added.

Noting that the Rummanah Campsite in Dana is now closed with the start of the cold season, Rfou said the reserve’s guesthouse is operational all year round.

“Many foreign and local tourists stay at the guesthouse during winter, particularly to experience village life during rainy and snowy days,” the reserve director highlighted.

Located in Tafileh Governorate, 180km southwest of the capital, Dana is Jordan’s largest and most diverse nature reserve with 833 types of vegetation constituting 50 per cent of the total flora in the country.

It houses a range of tourist facilities, including the Rummanah Campsite, a guesthouse and an eco-lodge.

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

Dana is also an important bird-watching site as it is home to 216 kinds of birds, many of which are globally threatened, and 38 mammals, mainly the Nubian ibex, Eurasian lynx, hyenas and Blanford’s fox.