UNDP grants Jordan $1 million to create nature reserve
Jordan is creating a nature reserve in one of the largest natural forests remaining in the Kingdom to conserve habitat for endangered species and generate jobs in tourism and enterprises making wood products without damaging biological diversity.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)'s Global Environment Facility is providing one million dollars for the four-year project and UNDP $100,000, with in-kind contributions from Jordan's Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and other local organizations.
The project includes preparation of by-laws and a land use plan and setting up a management team to run the reserve, with support staff such as forest rangers, tour guides and an ecologist. The reserve is to have a headquarters, visitor centre, camping area, trail system and parking facilities.
The Dibeen forest north of the capital Amman, one of the best examples of pine-oak woods in the region, is home to at least 17 endangered species, including grey wolves, imperial eagles and other migratory birds, Persian squirrels and wild orchids.
Deforestation is an acute problem, and Jordan has less than one per cent of its original trees, making conservation a priority. Eight square kilometers will come under protection, part of a broader effort to create a unique regional forest park covering 200 square kilometers in three local municipalities: Jerash, Al-Meirad and Burma.
The reserve is near the ancient Roman city of Jerash, a popular tourist destination, which can help draw visitors to enjoy its natural beauty.
Local communities will learn to use the forest's resources in ways that conserve the environment, curtailing excessive timber cutting, grazing, hunting and trapping of wildlife and gathering of wild herbs.
"We have discussed the project with the communities, and we will work on a plan to turn this area into a zone to attract tourism, finding employment opportunities in this field for the residents," said Director General of the Royal Society, Khaled Irani.
The Royal Society will implement the project in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment, local municipalities and groups using the forest's resources. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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