by Hana Namrouqa | Nov 05, 2014

64 forest fires were registered in the Kingdom last year, damaging 5,615 trees, according to Jordan’s Statistical Yearbook 2013 (Petra file photo)

AMMAN — The number of forest fires in the Kingdom increased by 13 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, with a total of 64 wildfires registered last year, according to Jordan’s Statistical Yearbook 2013.

The yearbook, issued by the Department of Statistics (DoS), showed that the 64 fires damaged 5,615 forest trees on 2,711 dunums.

In 2012, 57 forest fires damaged 6,422 trees planted on 1,296 dunums, according to the DoS.

Between 2003 and 2013, 582 wildfires were registered, resulting in the destruction of 44,888 forest trees, the yearbook said.

The Civil Defence Department (CDD) said wildfires in Jordan are mainly caused by three factors, all of which are man made.

“They are either caused by children playing with fire in forests, visitors’ negligence during the picnicking season or acts of arson,” a source at the CDD press office told The Jordan Times.

The Forestry Department at the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that the majority of wildfires in Jordan are ignited on purpose.

“Ninety-nine per cent of wild fires in Jordan are deliberate. They are started by a group of people who destroy part of the forest to come back later for illegal logging. They burn the forests to cut its trees down,” Eid Zu’bi, the director of the forestry department, told The Jordan Times.

Zu’bi noted that the number of forest fires during this year dropped by half due to intensified monitoring of the country’s forests.

“The number of forest fires and destroyed trees this year is still being compiled for an annual report; however, wildfires in 2014 dropped by 50 per cent compared to last year,” he said.

The official underscored that the ministry increased its rangers and patrols’ working hours, and set up monitoring towers across forests for the early detection and control of wild fires and violations.

The season of wildfires started early this year, with the first major fire occurring in April, while the season usually starts in June, according to conservationists.

They attributed the early start of forest fires to the fact that forest beds were covered with many dry, broken branches, which fell in last December’s snowstorm.