Middle East
1 Nov 2019

New light for Jordan’s Plants: Mainstreaming Plant Key Biodiversity Areas into the national Conservation Planning Framework

Quercus ithaburensis in Yarmouk ©RSCN
By Dima Obeidat

Located at the intersection of three continents with varied physical characteristics and landforms, Jordan is blessed with a rich and diverse ecosystem. It encapsulates 4 biogeographical regions and thirteen different vegetation types with 2,622 vascular plant species representing 1% of the world's flora, among which 100 are endemic including the Black Iris Iris nigricans & Coastal Iris Iris atropurpurea, some of the few wild flowers familiar to Jordanians.

Iris atropurpurea in Yarmouk ©RSCN

Unfortunately, plant diversity in Jordan faces habitat destruction and fragmentation due to the uncontrolled urban and agricultural expansion and expanding human activities, in addition to the impacts it endures as a result of global climate change, all leading to increased deterioration of natural habitats, destruction of ecosystems and overuse of their services, and loss of wildlife and genetic resources.

While several conservation initiatives took place in the last few decades contributing to enhancing the knowledge base on these plants, these efforts were still insufficient to provide accurate, up-to-date management oriented studies that could assist in dealing with those threats. Nevertheless, conservation of the national resources is critical to ensure sustainability and development in the country.

Therefore & in response to the threats facing the national biodiversity, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), BirdLife’s national partner in Jordan, is leading a project, funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF), that aims to “Mainstream Plant Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA's) into the National Conservation Planning Framework”.  

The three-year project covers the period from December 2018 to November 2021, where RSCN works closely with government institutions such as the Ministry of Environment (MoEnv), the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), and the Ministry of Local Administration (MoLA), the National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) and the Royal Department for the Protection of the Environment (Royal Rangers), and non-government organizations such as the Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) and academic institutions; such as the University of Jordan. In addition, RSCN targets the management teams and local communities of the protected areas in Dana Biosphere Reserve, Ajloun Forest Reserve and Yarmouk Forest Reserve.

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Dana Landscape ©RSCN

This project will tremendously enhance the knowledge and understanding of the Plant Key Biodiversity Areas within the Mediterranean Hotspot in Jordan and will allow for a more effective management of its protected areas. Through the project, RSCN will create a specialized Coordination Group to become the national platform for the governance of the KBAs program including the identification, assessment and declaration of key areas in the Kingdom starting with the Plant KBAs as a pilot theme then extending its mandate to include all national KBAs.

 

      

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, and the World Bank. Additional small grant funding to the Balkans sub-region has been provided by the MAVA Foundation. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.

 

CEPF is more than just a funding provider
A dedicated Regional Implementation Team (RIT) (expert officers on the ground) guide funding to the most important areas and to even the smallest of organisations; building civil society capacities, improving conservation outcomes, strengthening networks and sharing best practices. In the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot, the RIT is entrusted to BirdLife International and its Partners LPO (BirdLife France), DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia) and BPSSS (BirdLife Serbia).