By Hana Namrouqa – Aug 27,2017

Rangelands are a defining ecosystem for Jordan and take up the vast majority of the Kingdom’s land area

AMMAN — The World Future Council (WFC) has awarded Jordan the bronze Future Policy Award 2017 for its Updated Rangeland Strategy that enshrines the Middle East’s most widespread and longstanding indigenous traditional conservation institution “Hima” into law, according to its website.

The Future Policy Award recognises the world’s best policies that combat desertification and land degradation this year, according to the website, which indicated that Jordan updated its Rangeland Strategy between 2013-2014 to build on the ancient tradition of Hima.

Hima is a community-based natural resources management system that seeks to preserve natural resources and the environment for future generations. It is a tradition that dates back to thousands of years and aims at maintaining natural resources by integrating nature, community life, ethics and animal welfare, among other elements.

“It [Hima] encourages communities to build their own institutions to manage the rangelands. The Hima concept mirrors the landscape restoration approach which is promoted globally by key stakeholders in combating land degradation,” the council’s website indicated.

Alexandra Wandel, director of the World Future Council (WFC), said that Jordan’s winning of the bronze award for its Updated Rangeland Strategy ‘‘places it firmly on the map” as an environmental leader.

“Jordan’s win of the bronze Future Policy Award is sending a strong, empowering message: they show how a country that is vulnerable to desertification and climate change can find smart and highly effective ways to successfully address a global challenge,” Wandel said on the WFC website.

Jordan’s rangelands — which cover 80 per cent of the country — are degraded.

The first results of the strategy’s implementation can be seen in successful pilot projects, like in the Bani Hashem community in central Jordan.

After one year of activities with the local community protecting their Hima area, biodiversity benefits have already been observed. Indigenous floral species are back; shrubs and grasses are regenerating, and a total of 36 native plant species were recorded on the site, according to the WFC.

Rangelands are a defining ecosystem for Jordan and take up the vast majority of Jordan’s land area. At the same time, as Jordan is highly urbanised, the rangelands have a small population of around 185,000 people living in 170 communities, which is roughly 2.5 per cent of Jordan’s overall population.

Overgrazing and inadequate cultivation patterns have led to a reduction of vegetation cover in Jordan’s rangelands, an increase in soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, the loss of rain water through runoff, a higher frequency of wind storms and a reduction in biodiversity.