Event aims to engage stakeholders in dialogue to change forest, biodiversity-related legislation

By Maram Kayed – Mar 10,2020

There are 2,500 species of plants, more than 150 species of mammals and creeping animals and about 430 species of birds, most of which are on the brink of extinction, in the Kingdom’s forests (Photo courtesy of the Dibbin Society for Environmental Development)

AMMAN — Jordan’s continued loss of forests and the biologically diverse plants and animals that they are home to as a result of the “absence of serious legislation prohibiting the abuse of forest lands” is the main theme of this year’s upcoming Jordanian Forest Week.

The Jordanian Forest Week, organised by the Dibbin Society for Environmental Development for the third year in a row, is set to kick off on Sunday.

This year’s theme aims to send “a clear message” about the deterioration of forest lands in the Kingdom, with various environmentalists calling for stricter regulations regarding the demolition of forest lands for commercial, residential and agricultural purposes.

According to a source who preferred to remain anonymous, 20 dunums of forest land on the outskirts of Amman were sold to be turned into a mall last week.

“The problem is, even if the lands are converted for agricultural purposes, the forests and their wildlife are still lost. A forest’s ecological attributes differ even from agricultural farms,” the source added.

Head of the society Hala Murad, told The Jordan Times in a phone interview that one of the reasons behind the issue is the “wrong, unsustainable exploitation practises, such as afforestation and grazing in forests that are already suffering from the negative effects of climate change, especially with the recurrence of droughts”.

Murad noted that last summer, a fire affected about 2,000 forest dunums, which the environmentalist said “constitutes a significant percentage of Jordan’s forest area”.

Held under the slogan “Forests and Biodiversity are more valuable than we can afford to lose”, the Jordanian Forest Week poses an opportunity for governmental and private institutions, among others, to engage in dialogue aimed at establishing the principles of “preserving and sustaining biological diversity for the sake of future generations”, according to the event’s agenda.

Murad and other environmentalists are calling for the inclusion of forest protection regulations among the fight for preserving the biological diversity agenda, calling the link a “necessity”.

“Forests are home to unique types of plants and animals, some of which have been classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as red-list species in danger of extinction, which means that any threats to forest lands is a threat to biological biodiversity,” she added.

The Kingdom’s records indicate that in its forests, there are 2,500 species of plants, more than 150 species of mammals and creeping animals and about 430 species of birds, most of which are “on the brink of extinction”.

“If policies towards maintaining forests and biological diversity remain the same, the chances of the natural regeneration of forests and biodiversity will become very slim and difficult. What the Kingdom needs is policies aimed at rehabilitating lands to restore natural systems, or nation-wide campaigns for planting new artificial forests,” Murad said.

The society will start implementing a series of awareness campaigns, lectures and seminars in the middle of this month. They will also work to lobby authorities to amend regulations related to forest land conversion and abuse, as well as campaign for more funding for tree planting and other forest preservation measures.