Jordan Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN)
Mission of the organisation
RSCN will create, manage and advocate for a national network of protected areas to conserve Jordan’s biodiversity and support local community development, while promoting wider public support and action for the protection of the natural environment within Jordan and neighbouring countries.
· The Government gave RSCN official delegation to establish and manage protected areas, through the signing an historic agreement with the Ministry of environment.
· Concepts of biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture were integrated within new Ministry of Agriculture strategies
· Long term conservation of important biodiversity areas within the Jordan Valley was secured through the integration of these areas within the Valley's land use plan
· The danger of the copper mining in the Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve was prevented by a new agreement from the Cabinet, which prohibits all types of mining within the reserve
· Regulations to support the enforcement of the new Agriculture Law were developed in issues related to wildlife protection, hunting regulation, animal testing, bird ringing, and animal welfare in zoos
· The pioneering partnership between RSCN and the Police Department was further developed to activate the enforcement of wildlife protections laws and regulations
· The Ministry of Education supported RSCN in production of a specialized education CD about protected areas. This CD will be used by the Ministry to complement the school curriculum. The CD was produced by generous funding from the Dutch Embassy
Effective Management of Protected Areas
Azraq Wetland Reserve
· Conservation program of the endemic Sirhani fish continued and gained international recognition for this great achievement from the Ford Motor Company, which awarded RSCN its environmental award for a second time
· Creation of the first national bird ringing station. Modern technology is employed in the research programme, like web-cams and sound recording devices, in order to study and monitor the behavior of resident and migratory birds
· Expansion of the wetland-related socio-economic projects, providing more than 30 new job opportunities for local people
Ajloun Forest Reserve
· Her Majesty Queen Rania formally opened the reserve; an event that included her announcement of Ajloun as the environmental capital of Jordan. The reserve was also honoured to receive a formal visit from Prince Charles, through the invitation of Her Majesty
· A management Center including a fully equipped training hall, a restaurant and 10 wooden cottages accommodating up to 40 people were constructed, with support from The Spanish Agency for International Support and Cooperation (RESCATE), The Japanese Embassy and The Jordan River Foundation
· A successful re-introduction program for the Roe Deer was established in Ajloun in which a total of 26 individuals of 15 females and 11 males were released to the wilderness and continuous monitoring program is implemented
Dana Biosphere Reserve
· A major milestone was the completion of the new eco-lodge in Wadi Feynan, on the western edge of Reserve. The lodge has a unique architectural design that reflects the local environment. The building contains 26 guest rooms, and uses a solar energy to produce electricity. At night, it is candlelit with candles produced by a local Bedouin workshop. The Lodge is constructed with funding from USAID
· The Reserve received a grant from the UNESCO to develop further the soap production project, which is anticipated to raise local community income and provide more employment opportunities around Dana Village
Dibeen Forest Reserve
· Comprehensive information about faunal and floral diversity in the Reserve are available and recording more than 15 species of Macro-invertebrates as new records to Jordan.
· Performing monitoring programs on indicator species such as Orchids, Stone Marten and the Persian Squirrel to identify the management effectiveness in conserving habitat and species.
Mujib Biosphere Reserve
· Preparation of a comprehensive management plan for the reserve. The Reserve was also chosen to be one of the focal points for the "Conservation and Sustainable Use of Medicinal Plants in Jordan" project. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and administered by the World Bank in coordination with the Ministry of Planning
· The visitor centre, elevated walk way and campsite are opened officially and started to receive visitors interested in exploring the Reserve's unique wadi systems. The reserve also acquired the first and only solar powered boat on the Dead Sea to enable visitors to experience the Dead Sea in a new and unique way
· The socio-economic programme continued to develop, with the opening of a handicraft workshop in the village of Fag'ua and the training of local women to enable them to produce unusual jewellery
· The development of the ecotourism and socio-economic programmes at the Mujib Reserve were funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the European Commission
· An Integrated water resources management and conservation project was initiated from which detailed water strategy and communication strategy were developed
· The reserve was announced as a biosphere reserve in 2011 since it integrated socio-economic development with nature conservation initiatives
Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
· Conservation program for re-introducing the extinct Arabian Oryx which gained international recognition and support other initiatives in re-introducing this species in Jordan and the Arabian Peninsula
Research for Conservation: New and special records
A national water bird census was also carried out in order to provide a scientific base for decisions of the hunting committee. Results of the national water bird census will be included for the first time in two of the most important publications about water birds in the world "Numbers and distribution of wintering water birds in the Western Palearctic and Southwest Asia", and "Waterbird Population Estimates". Both publications are issued regularly by Wetlands International.
Surveillance cameras were adopted as a new approach for scientific research in the RSCN nature reserves. This technique enhanced knowledge about wildlife species as well as adds to the importance of habitat conservation into enhancing wildlife composition.
A comprehensive survey on bat fauna diversity was established in Jordan through the RSCN research and survey section over three continuous years. The survey yielded confirming 26 bat species and a new record to Jordan.
Enforcement of Wildlife Protection Laws
The enforcement of wildlife protection laws improved tremendously during 2004. The key achievements are as follows:
· Development of the Partnership with the Police Department
· Mechanisms introduced to guarantee effective implementation and monitoring of the International Convention on Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)
· Issuance of hunting licenses is still in progress with a detailed database for hunters developed and implemented
· 1300 patrols carried out by RSCN rangers throughout the Kingdom
· 251 violators apprehended and 38 illegally caught birds, reptiles and mammals released
· 98 export and re-export permits issued during 2004
Environmental Education- Investing in the new generations
· Promoting concepts of biodiversity conservation to school children through different tools and media. Over 80 water conservation concepts were integrated within the national schools curriculum. A special education programme was developed about bird migration, with an interactive website and bird guide book among the education tools
· A regional workshop on sustainable development was held to introduce the concept of sustainable development to school teachers. Participants from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan debated the concept of sustainable development and ways of integrating that within the education system. The workshop was organized with support from Birdlife International
RSCN continued to develop eco-tourism in protected areas as a tool to generate income for local communities and biodiversity conservation, while at the same time raising visitors' awareness about the importance of conserving these sites.
Opening the Wild Jordan Centre- "We can't bring everyone to nature; but we can bring nature to everyone."
The centre was designed in a way that mixes past and present, and focuses on harmony with other buildings in the area. The centre includes a shop for the products of RSCN's reserves, a restaurant featuring organic foods and an environmental internet café. Wild Jordan has become the centre of RSCN's environmental awareness activities. a total of 62 events took place at Wild Jordan. The centre was Funded by the USAID.
New Initiatives and Project
Integrated Ecosystem Management in Jordan Rift Valley Project
The project’s main objective is to secure the ecological integrity of the Jordan Rift Valley, as a globally important ecological corridor and migratory flyway, through a combination of site protection and management, nature based socio-economic development and land use planning. It will provide a large scale pilot program for introducing the principles and practice of integrated ecological management throughout a productive landscape and thus a potential global model.
Integrated Water Resources Management and Conservation in Mujib Nature Reserve
The project novel approach involved guaranteeing full participation of local communities and civil societies in conservation of water resources in Mujib Biosphere Reserve. The project main objective is “To apply an integrated water natural resources management approach in Mujib Nature Reserve that assures a long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural water system in the area".
Conservation Action Plan for the vulnerable Syrian Serin; Serinus syriacus in Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan
The Serin’s last natural breeding area in Jordan is threatened by human development within the Al Barrah area in Jordan. Therefore, The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature will be implementing a project after a financial support from the Hima Fund in Qatar. The project proposes to establish a comprehensive action plan for 2012 that will ensure that the remaining population of the Syrian Serin’s key breeding and feeding areas in Dana Biosphere Reserve are conserved and protected for generations to come. This project will be implemented.
Spreading Regional: Regional Training Programme
In 2004, RSCN organized several training programmes funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) aimed at developing the capacity of environmental practitioners in the neighbouring Arab countries. These included:
· Ecotourism development
· Management planning for protected areas
· Environmental awareness
· Methods of defining Important Bird Areas
· NGO's management
The Nature Academy Project
The Ajloun Nature Academy is an ambitious project, designed to meet several perceived needs in Jordan:
(i) The need to facilitate career opportunities in conservation and environmental management for young Jordanians, and especially those from poor rural backgrounds
(ii) The need to meet existing gaps in the job market, and especially in eco-tourism, nature guiding and ranger services, where vocational training courses do not yet exist
(iii) The need to create vocational training in environmental disciplines with recognised qualifications that will not only enable existing practitioners to do their jobs more effectively and achieve recognition but also help environmental organisations develop career structures and pathways for their employees.
At present, there are no vocational training establishments in Jordan that offer environmental courses with qualifications and no universities that offer majors in environmental disciplines. This creates many difficulties for both government and NGO institutions, since it is almost impossible to find qualified staff from the job pool. The same situation applies to almost all the other countries in the Middle East Region and the development of the Ajloun Academy will be an important “first-step” in creating a regional centre of excellence to address these needs.
The 3000 square meter Academy is being constructed in an old disused stone quarry near to the Ajloun Forest Nature Reserve and the village of Um Al Yanabee3. The quarry site was chosen to ensure that the building did not cause the destruction of any forest trees and to demonstrate that a scar on the landscape could be healed by good architecture. Apart from its role in providing qualifications and capacity building for people working in eco-tourism, nature conservation and environmental management, the Academy has been designed to become an ‘engine’ of socio-economic development in this poor rural area of Ajloun. Integrated within its design is a large 250-seat restaurant that will not only serve the students using the Academy but also international and local tourists and family visitors from Amman at weekends. It also has an organic farm shop and a range of facilities for tourists, so that it will become a major tourism hub for the whole Ajloun region.
Funding for the Academy has been secured from the Ministry of Labour (TVET Fund) and USAID and construction is due to be completed by March 2013. Work has also started on preparing the curricula for two of the core courses to be offered in the Academy: nature guiding and protected area management. These are being done in association with international learning institutions, including the School of Conservation and Forestry in Montana, USA, and the Field Guides Association of South Africa, so that the Academy offers world-class standards of tuition. Arrangements are also underway to work with nature conservation academies in Germany to develop diploma courses in nature conservation and nature-based economic development.
The Academy will be managed as a public-private partnership, with its own Board of Trustees, and it will be required to cover all its operating costs through fees, tourism services and the restaurant. Any surplus revenue generated will be used to support a scholarship program for candidates from poor social backgrounds.