By Laila Azzeh – Aug 08,2015 –

Ajloun Governorate contains 140,000 dunums of forests that cover 34 per cent of its total area (Petra photo)

AMMAN — It took firefighters four hours on Saturday to extinguish a “huge” blaze in Ajloun, 70km northwest of the capital, that destroyed 500 trees on more than 40 dunums of land, the Civil Defence Department (CDD) said.

The distinctive geographical features of the region required the use of a helicopter to aid in extinguishing the fire, which erupted at around 12:30pm, Lt. Ahmad Yaqoub, director of the CDD media centre, told The Jordan Times.

More than 130 CDD firefighters were involved in the operation, Yaqoub noted, adding that preliminary investigations point to arson as the cause of the fire.

“We were unable to reach the source of the fire and requested a helicopter to help us,” he said, and no injuries were reported.

Arsonists are suspected to be behind the frequent fires that have been erupting in forested areas across the Kingdom, with authorities blaming what they describe as the “logging mafia”.

“To this effect, a number of watchtowers will be established in forest areas to control the frequent violations,” Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

He noted that the towers will be funded through the Gulf Cooperation Council grant to Jordan, saying that the government has “never been more serious to put an end to attacks on forests”.

“Most of the damage caused to forest areas is perpetrated on purpose,” Haddadin said.

Ajloun Governorate contains 140,000 dunums of forests that cover 34 per cent of its total area.

Forests in Jordan constitute less than 1 per cent of the country’s total area of 97,000 square kilometres.

The Kingdom is among the poorest countries worldwide in terms of forest cover, with the internationally accepted average of land covered by forests standing at 15 per cent of the total area.
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