By Muath Freij – Nov 28,2015
New amendments to the Agriculture Law seek to curb the trend of illegal logging and violations in forests (Petra photo)

AMMAN — A 24/7 hotline newly established by the Ministry of Agriculture has started receiving phone calls from individuals providing information on forest violations, a ministry official said on Saturday.

Eid Zu’bi, the head of the Forestry Department at the ministry, expressed optimism that the public will be more encouraged to use the hotline to report such incidents, although the number of phone calls has been limited so far.

“Many people are not using the hotline for this purposes… citizens have to feel more responsible about this issue,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone.

The public can call the ministry any time on 06/5341116, 06/5342752 and 0799059362, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said the initiative was launched to create a sense of collaboration between the ministry and the public.

“Agriculture Minister Akef Zu’bi has stressed that all Jordanians have to protect the Kingdom’s forests because they are a national treasure,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times over the phone.

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.

The ministry official said amendments to the Agriculture Law endorsed by the Lower House last week will contribute to curbing the trend of illegal logging and violations in forests.

The 2015 amendments aim, according to their validating reasons, at curbing this practice.

Under the law, logging of perennial trees can only be carried out after the Agriculture Ministry issues special permits. This guarantees that no damage comes to the Kingdom’s environment or forests.

Haddadin said Rangers have to work harder to combat illegal logging.

“Most of the illegal logging happens either after the end of working hours or late at night,” he noted.

Forestry lands amount to 1.5 million dunums, of which 250,000 dunums are bare, 400,000 dunums are natural forests, 500,000 dunums are planted forests and 350,000 are nature reserves, according to the Forestry Department.
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