By Hana Namrouqa – Mar 22,2018

AMMAN — A vegetation report on a 20-dunum plot of land which suffered illegal logging and wildfires over the past decade, indicated that its natural regeneration is “very high”, an environmental activist said on Thursday.

The report showed that the land, which once enjoyed a thick cover of forest trees, has very promising potential of restoring its status as a host of different indigenous and globally vulnerable forest trees, Hala Murad, president of Dibeen Association for Environmental Development, said.

“The report indicated that, even after the manmade and natural factors that left the land bare, 90 kinds of floral species were still present,” she told The Jordan Times, underlining that due to the importance of the empty forest land, an alliance of NGOs in Jerash started an initiative to allow the degraded land to restock.

“A two-week project to plant some 700 indigenous forest trees in this bare land is now complete. The land is now planted with hundreds of forest trees, which will be sustained by an irrigation system and protected against violations and random grazing by a fence,” Murad underlined.

The land is part of a series of green hills that constitute Jerash Governorate’s Dibeen Forest Reserve, which represents the world’s last remaining southeastern community of Aleppo pines.

The land was full of beautiful forest trees but witnessed over the past few years illegal logging and wild fires, leaving it completely bare except for shrubs, Murad said, highlighting that the project, launched on March 21, the International Day of Forests, aimed at the rehabilitation of the degraded forest land.

Native forest trees to the area of Dibeen were planted, such as pine, maple and Greek juniper.

Located some 48km north of Amman, the Dibeen forest is the driest place in the world in which Aleppo pines grow naturally, with an average rainfall of around 400 millimetres per year, according to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

The Dibeen forest is home to at least 17 threatened species, including the Persian squirrel, in addition to over a quarter of the butterfly species that exist in the Kingdom. It extends over of mountainous topography, rich with pine and oak trees.

Forests in Jordan constitute less than 1 per cent of the country’s total area of 89,, making the Kingdom among the poorest countries worldwide in terms of forest cover, since the internationally accepted average of land covered by forests stands at 15 per cent of the total area.

Forestry land 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 official figures.