By Maram Kayed – Sep 12,2019

JERASH — With summer nearing its end, environmental activists are calling for talks with the government regarding the development of Jerash forests.

“We can conclude from the experience of many this summer that the forests are extremely unequipped and neglected, and that is the opinion of both locals and tourists,” said Mastoora Smadi, a worker in the Jerash Tourism Department.

The hundreds of dunums that make up the forests are “without bathrooms and benches, having very few trash bins as well”, pointed out Smadi.

Jerash forests are a destination for “many families who want an open space to have a lovely time over a barbeque, or tourists who want to explore the area”, Jerash Municipality Member Mohammed Zreigat told The Jordan Times over the phone.

He added, “given that the forests receive special attention from people not only in the north but beyond it, there should be a bigger part of the municipality’s budget attributed to it.”

The Jerash forests have been facing problems other than just a lack of public facilities. In the winter, the forests face illegal logging.

“Given the low budget allocations, there is very little to no monitoring in these forests. Especially at night, no one guards them — which means anyone can easily cut up trees and load them in a truck to be sold or used personally for fireplaces,” added Zreigat.

Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Essa Shboul said that the ministry is “aware of the littering and the illegal logging.”

He added: “The ministry has very little money assigned to it, so the places we oversee also receive minimal funding as a consequence. However, we are trying to attract funding from environmentally concerned donors.”

Shboul mentioned that the Jerash and Ajloun forests will be getting “new benches, new trash bins, and new forest guards” as of January 2020.