By Hana Namrouqa
AMMAN — Several thousands of people from all walks of life joined a cross-country clean-up campaign to curb littering and spread the word on the need to protect forests and parks on Saturday.

Twelve locations, including forests, parks, beaches and tourist and archaeological sites, welcomed up to 40,000 people from schools, youth centres, associations, private sector companies and public sector institutions, according to the Ministry of Environment, which launched the clean-up campaign at Jalad Forest in Balqa Governorate.

“The campaign seeks to encourage sound behaviours when visiting forests, parks or tourist locations and remind people to avoid littering to keep forests and picnicking sites clean,” Environment Minister Ibrahim Shahahdeh told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

The clean-up campaign seeks to combat littering by raising public awareness around environmental protection, Shahahdeh said, noting that the campaign also includes increasing the number of trash bins in parks and forests.

The ministry organised the first nationwide clean-up campaign in April 2017, according to the ministry’s assistant secretary general, Isa Shboul.

Clean-up campaigns, whether the recent large-scale ones or those organised over the years, aim at delivering environmental protection messages to all Jordanians, Shboul said.

Forests are a major attraction for visitors during summer, particularly on weekends, which results in rubbish piling up at the sites and occasional fires starting due to the improper and negligent use of barbeques, according to officials.

“Efforts to combat littering are paying off I believe. We are seeing more and more families holding plastic bags and picking up litter after they finish their picnics. In fact, littering has dropped by half over the past few years,” Shboul told The Jordan Times.