THE PEOPLE SPEAK: “Cut Down 2,200 Trees in Jordan? NO WAY!”
Did you know there is a project in the works that threatens to destroy part of Ajloun Forest in northern Jordan?
The project calls for chopping down 2,200 trees in 45 dunums of prime forestland in the Bergish area, near Ojlan. And that is just in Phase 1.
They must be saved!
SIGNING OUR PETITION TODAY can stop this environmental tragedy and help safeguard the remaining forests of Jordan.
Removing 2,200 trees anywhere, any time, is questionable. But in Jordan, the idea borders on insanity.
Jordan needs to conserve every inch of greenery it has, and plant MORE trees… NOT cut them down!
And oh, the irony… 2011 is the International Year of Forests!
In one of the most water-poor countries in the world, the remaining natural forests play an important role in the water cycle. Every tree should be considered a natural treasure!
Jordan’s heritage and very future depend on fully conserving and protecting what remains of its natural environment.
Cut Down 2,200 Trees? NO WAY!
The trees are mostly Oak, Pistachio, Hawthorn and Strawberry trees. Many shrubs and flowers, such as Cyclamen and terrestrial orchids, grow under their protection, and provide habitats for native and migratory birds and animals.
It’s no secret that Jordan has far less vegetation cover than most countries. Barely 1% of the Kingdom is forested. Tree planting must be accelerated! Laws protecting trees and the environment must be enforced!
Why are environmental protection laws being ignored in this case?
Ajloun Forest is virtually the last area in the country that still has an intact ecosystem with a rich natural diversity of native plant and animal species. A recent ecological survey in a small part of the Bergish area of Ajloun Forest, in January 2009, recorded over 100 plant species, of which 13% are rare, 4% are threatened and 13% have medicinal value. Without an extensive survey, there is no telling how many more important species are also present.
The Forest is home to many indigenous animals and birds, including migratory birds, whose presence is essential to maintain balanced biodiversity. Some plants and animals found there are threatened at the national and/or global level and are thus in need of permanent protection.
If this construction project is allowed to go ahead, it will be in clear violation of the agricultural legislation of Jordan. In particular, Article 28 of the Jordanian agricultural law which relates to forestry land and mentions that it is not permissible to delegate, allocate, sell or trade forest land to any person or entity, for any reason. The law also mentions that forest land shall not be incorporated into municipal boundaries without the consent of the Minister, nor shall the segregation of forest land within the boundaries be allowed, nor changes to the status of forestry land use. The project would also be in violation of Article 35 of the same law, which mentions that it is prohibited to cut down, destroy or in any way, shape or form harm any forest trees, perennials, or rare and endangered wild plants.
Furthermore, the project is not in compliance with the Jordan Environmental Act No. 25 for the year 2006, Section 13, which mentions that all organizations, companies, firms or any other entity whose activities may adversely affect the environment in any way, shape or form must prepare an environmental impact assessment study for their project and submit it to the Ministry of Environment to take an appropriate decision thereon. It also mentions that the Minister must request from any institution, company or firm whose activities may affect the environment, a study assessing the environmental impact of their project.
We are fully aware of the usefulness of the proposed facility, and recognize that investment in such a project would create opportunities to increase per capita income, reduce unemployment and raise the Gross National Product. But at the same time, we are aware of what it represents to leave things without regulation or restriction, and to allow vague terms that do not protect the interests of Jordanians or promote the protection of the environment, which is one of the most important national priorities.
Can’t the proposed facility be located somewhere else? There is plenty of vacant land in Jordan. Rather than rip down prime forest land, why not build the project on some open area that currently has little vegetation?
From our understanding of the country’s environmental conditions and knowledge of the forest, already suffering due to environmental and economic factors, we foresee that environmental hazards will result from any further destruction of Jordan’s vegetation and ecosystems.
We therefore call on the government to consult with all parties concerned in order to reach a formula satisfactory for all concerned and safeguard the interests of the country and the people. We hope more control of our forests will be activated – to maintain what has been accomplished to date – and call upon the authorities to intensify efforts to expand the area of forests under protection, and not allow a national plan to destroy any forest area.
2011 was declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations to “raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.”
So will Jordan’s first move this year be to destroy part of its best forest land? It would be unfortunate if Jordan is perceived as the country that challenges this UN declaration.
To be perfectly clear, we’re not against the creation of the new facility. However, we ask that:
1) All work on the project in Ajloun Forest be stopped until a team of environmental experts and representatives from all stakeholders prepares the necessary environmental impact studies
2) An appropriate decision be made to prevent environmental damage, in compliance with the law.
3) A search be made for an alternative site, so that the Ajloun Forest can continue to grow, for the benefit of future generations.