In this file photo, a 2019 wildfire in Jerash’s Thaghret Asfour is seen (JT file photo)

AMMAN — The Awraq Association for Environmental Development on Saturday called for increasing the public’s awareness of forest fires and imposing tougher penalties on individuals which cause the fires as more picnickers head to forest areas.

“We must not lose focus of the aspect of raising awareness of the issue of forest fires, especially since some press reports showed that most of the fires are manmade,” Awraq founder and CEO, Zeina Hamdan, told The Jordan Times Saturday.

Those who violate the law and damage the environment while doing so “must know the short and long term consequences” on the climate and Jordan’s pastoral areas, Hamdan said.

Awareness must be raised, and penalties must become tougher, Hamdan said, also calling for increased monitoring from the Ministry of Environment or officials of localities near forested areas.

According to data from the Institute of Electronic Resources on Forests platform, fires were responsible for 59 per cent of the loss of tree cover in Jordan between 2001 and 2021.

According to the data, Jordan lost 4 hectares of tree cover as a result of fires, and 3 hectares due to other factors between 2001 and 2021. The greatest area of tree cover loss caused by fire occurred in 2004, when 2 hectares of tree were destroyed.

Ajloun governorate witnessed 78 per cent of the total loss of tree cover between 2001 and 2021, at a loss of 6 hectares compared to a national average of 2 hectares, the data showed.‘short’-and-long-term-consequences’-forest-fires