Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dhana village, Jordan, Dana Biosphere Reserve. Photo: Fares Khoury

Contents

  • Jordan Birdwatch’s call
  • Jordan Birdwatch’s statement issued on the 19th of August 2021
  • Further links

Does a copper mine have priority over nature and world heritage?

The Dana Nature Reserve is one of the most diverse and important bird areas in the Middle East with breeding populations of globally threatened species like Sooty Falcon and Syrian Serin.

Dana Biosphere Reserve, Red Sand Habitat, south Jordan. Photo: Fares Khoury
Red Sand Habitat, south Jordan. Photo: Fares Khoury

The habitats in the reserve have been suffering locally from droughts and local overgrazing by livestock and woodcutting. However this is nothing compared to the destruction expected from the copper mining being planned in the western side of the Reserve. We urge all who care and who are working in the fields of nature conservation, education and (eco-)tourism to raise awareness about this case.

Syrian serin, Dhana, Jordan. Photo: Fares Khoury
Syrian serin, Dhana, Jordan. Photo: Fares Khoury

The reserve is located along the southern rift margins of Jordan with an altitudinal range of 60 below sea level to around 1500 above sea level, and being at the crossroad of three continents, it is no wonder that this reserve holds so much diversity, ranging from deserts and arid acacia stands in the lowlands to mountain steppe and open juniper and evergreen oak woodlands.

Dhana village, Jordan, Dana Biosphere Reserve. Photo: Fares Khoury
Dhana village, Jordan, Dana Biosphere Reserve. Photo: Fares Khoury

We urge all who care and who are working in the fields of nature conservation, education and (eco-)tourism to raise awareness about this case.

Statement issued by Jordan BirdWatch, dated 08/19/2021

Subject: Decision to remove part of the Dana Nature Reserve for mining purposes

The Dana Biosphere Reserve is considered one of the most important areas for biodiversity in the Middle East due to its geographical location between three continents, and the great variation in terrain, climate and habitats within a relatively small area.

It is characterized by a heterogeneous landscape and a great diversity of plant species and resident and migratory birds. 

The area of ​​Dana and Feinan is also globally famous for its distinctive archeological sites and historical importance, displaying the development of human civilization that began in the Stone Ages. 

The area contains beautiful archaeological and natural sites visited by a large number of tourists. There is still great potential of developing Feinan and its surroundings in a sustainable manner as tourist destination, and to be a source of continuous income for local communities and for future generations. 
In fact, the reserve area including the village of Dana were almost deserted before the establishment of the reserve in 1994, but many of the original inhabitants came back, indicating the importance of this reserve from an economic point of view for the local communities.

All activities related to copper exploration and mining in the Dana Reserve will have devastating effects on the natural environment, heritage and the economy of local communities. The previous and current efforts to protect and sustainably develop the area will be totally lost. The decision of the government to change the borders of the reserve, and promises of the authorities to the public about great profits and new job opportunities in copper mines is currently based on assumptions, and not supported by published, professional assessments or scientific studies.

Assessments of the direct and accumulated negative effects on the environment and economic feasibility studies are not known to exist or to have been published. 

The decision contradicts the goals of sustainable development and principles of environmental protection, and it also violates some international treaties (Rio conventions) to which Jordan is a signatory. The Dana Nature Reserve will probably lose its title of “Biosphere Reserve” granted by UNESCO if the borders are significantly shifted and the area reduced by a quarter.

Jordan BirdWatch is a specialized environmental society which develops and implements its programs based on scientific knowledge. Accordingly, we would like to inform first and foremost the Ministry of Environment, of our position, refusing to exclude any part of the Dana Nature Reserve, due to the expected detrimental effects of mining activities. We also recommend to strengthen and improve the management system for all nature reserves in Jordan.

We all as members of the Jordanian society bear the responsibility of protecting and preserving the environment for future generations.

Further links:

  • Letter to the ministry of Antiquities, undersigned by members of the community of international and Jordanian archaeologists:

CONTACT JBW

Owl chick rescue

A long-eared owl chick rescued by Al-Weibdah inhabitants and Jordan BirdWatch

Jordan BirdWatch is frequently contacted during the breeding season of birds, to collect and deal with chicks, often fully grown but still not able to fly properly. In one case, a Jackdaw chick was being kept on the roof of a house by people who took the chick from children playing near their home. The chick probably fell from its nest while attempting its first flight. JBW advised to immediately return the chick to the nesting site and place it on a higher place, safe from ground-dwelling predators.

In another case the chick of a Long-eared Owl was found grounded in a garden in Al-Weibdah in Amman, probably after attempting to leave the nest. The habitants contacted JBW and kept it in a safe place for a day or two. JBW personnel then placed the seemingly healthy bird on the branch of a tall tree. It was evident that the nest was located nearby and the parents were present and still feeding the chick after it left the nest. The young owl was spotted in the days following its rescue, perching on the branches of the trees in the same garden.

Unfortunately, most “grounded” Owls, Birds of Prey and other birds are mistakenly deemed orphaned – they’re actually just in the process of testing their wings. Many young birds disperse from their nests long before they can fly – this prevents overcrowding in the nest as the chicks grow. This is nature’s way of helping to minimise any threat to the entire clutch from predators. Many young birds lose their footing during these first explorations and fall to the ground”. A grounded chick may look lost and vulnerable, but the parents are likely to know where it is and will continue to feed it. Owl chicks can climb up bushes and trees to stay safe https://www.owlpages.com/owls/articles.php?a=81

The risks and advices

What JBW observed and the measures to take in a rescue situation

Healthy owl chicks that would still have a chance to survive in the wild are often taken to local conservation or animal welfare societies or facilities in Jordan with the good intension of “saving its life”. In some cases people take things into their own hand and attempt to feed and care for the bird themselves, then give up after the bird becomes a “nuisance”, or so weakened it would be difficult to save. It is usually impossible for non-specialists to determine the age and physical condition of a chick, and thus its chances to survive in the wild; in many cases the chicks are deemed “orphaned” or even injured because they still are not able to fly well. That is why we advise calling JBW to get appropriate advice and assistance and before taking the birds into what often turns out to be a life-long captivity. Evidently, some of the birds brought to these facilities are kept in captivity indefinitely and are sometimes used as additional attraction for visitors.

Some of the owl species are still threatened or rare in Jordan (see our Bird list), due to habitat destruction, disturbances at nesting sites, persecution and deliberate collection of owls from the wild and offering them for sale on social media platforms. Eleven species of owls have been recorded in Jordan including nine that breed in the country, one of which became extinct a few decades ago. Although considered by some Jordanians as “bad luck”, these magnificent birds provide humans with a lot of “services” when in the wild and thus deserve more appreciation and protection in Jordan.

All information concerning Birds in Jordan is available in our Bird list, species and their conditions are regularly observed and updated by JBW.

Local guides training in Wadi Gharaba

Local guides training in Wadi Gharaba - Jordan Valley

Jordan Valley, 29 February – 1 March 2020

Jordan BirdWatch, in cooperation with the Jordan Valley Development Society and supported by sGEF/UNDP, carried out a training workshop in the Jordan Valley about nature/bird guiding.

Most participants belonged to the local communities at and around south Shuna.

The special conservation area of “Wadi Gharaba” was visited as part of this training. The wetland habitat in the wadi, managed by Jordan BirdWatch along with local stakeholders, is to be used for educational purposes and bird-watching. 

Jordan BirdWatch General Assembly

Jordan BirdWatch Owl in Jordan

8th of february 2020

Jordan BirdWatch Association is holding its annual meeting on the 8th of february 2020.

The event will start with the General Assembly for all members from 15:00 to 16:00 hours and will be followed by presentations and discussions.

All those interested are welcome to attend and to participate !

JBW’s annual meeting will take place in the hall of the JORDANIAN TOUR GUIDE ASSOCIATION at the following adresse : Al-Fayha’a Street, Shmeisani

JBW General Assembly 8th of february 2020
JBW General Assembly 8th of february 2020

For further information, you can contact us on our contact page, or call the mobile number : 00 962 (0)7 9550 2900

Clean-up event and bird watching in Wadi Gharaba

Black-winged-Kite-Ghor-Rama-Jordan-Valley-7-December-2019-photo-by-Fares-Khoury

A special Conservation Area

Solid waste is one of the main and ever-growing environmental issues in the Jordan Valley, others being depletion of water sources, overgrazing of native vegetation, invasion of alien shrub species and unregulated hunting.

JBW is carrying out projects in one site to tackle the root causes for such local problems and present a model of best practices and for integrated management of ecosystems and natural resources in the Jordan Valley area.

White-throated-Kingfisher,-Ghor-Rama,-Jordan-Valley,-7th-December-2019
White-throated Kingfisher, Ghor Rama in the Jordan Valley on the 7th of December 2019
photo by Fares Khoury

Moreover, JBW organizes birding trips to spread awareness and to monitor birds and their habitats.

In this context, Jordan BirdWatch together with Ahl El-Balad initiative carried out a clean-up event in Wadi Gharaba Special Conservation Area, which is located in Ghor Rama north of the Dead Sea on Saturday 7th December 2019. Large amounts of waste were collected, including mainly plastic water bottles and cans.

cleaning-campaign-7-dec-2019
Cleaning campaign on the 7th of December 2019 organised by Ahl El-Balad initiative and Jordan BirdWatch

JBW members also enjoyed watching a variety of birds in and around Wadi Gharaba in the early morning including Herons and Egrets, two Black-winged Kites Kingfishers (three species), Little Green Be-eaters, Bluethroat, Robin, Stonechat, Indian Silverbills and Spanish Sparrows.

Kingfisher in Ghor-Rama, Jordan-Valley. December-2019, photo by Fares Khoury
Kingfisher in Ghor Rama, Jordan Valley, December 7th 2019, photo by Fares Khoury

Clean-Up event and bird watching

Wadi Gharaba, a special conservation and important bird area in Jordan

Jordan BirdWatch together with Jordan Green Building Council and Ahl El-Balad initiative…

… are carrying out a clean-up event in Wadi Gharaba Special Conservation Area, which is located in Ghor Rama north of the Dead Sea on Saturday 7th December 2019.

Everyone is welcome to participate. There will also be a birdwatching event in the early morning.

There will be two groups:

  1. Bird-watching group leaves earlier: meeting at 6:15 am; 7th circle; private vehicles; this group will meet the second on site at around 10 am.
  2. Second group meets at 8:30 am at the 4th circle (Green building council) where a bus will be available for volunteers.

Expected return to Amman 1:00 pm.

For more info please call Leen 0797343617.

Ahl el-Balad
Ahl el-Balad

For more information on the Wadi Gharaba site and Jordan BirdWatch go to our post Special Conservation Area.

Annual Environmental School Day 2019

Zero Waste in 2022

Jordan BirdWatch participated in the annual Environmental Day hosted on 2 April 2019 byThe Ahliyyah School for Girls and Bishop’s School for Boys.

This year’s theme was “Zero Waste in 2022”. The main objective was to involve students in taking actions towards achieving a better and greener world.

Jordan BirdWatch presented books and bird-watching tools, and had lively discussions with students about bird diversity in Jordan, and the negative impacts of solid waste pollution on birds and the eco-tourism sector in Jordan.

A Special Conservation Area

Wadi Gharaba bird habitat

Wadi Gharaba becomes a Special Conservation Area

Wadi Gharaba, Jordan Valley, was announced as a “Special Conservation Area” by the Ministry of Environment upon the request of JORDAN BIRDWATCH and after obtaining the approval of various stakeholders.

An SCA includes management of important habitats and ecosystems to conserve biodiversity while allowing limited or traditional use by local communities.

The nearly 5 Km² area is adjacent to the River Jordan and 7 km north of the Dead Sea. It is around 35 km (half an hour drive) from Amman. It includes a narrow, shallow wadi with marsh-like conditions and Tamarisk thickets, suitable breeding habitat for Little Bittern, Blue-cheeked and Little Green Bee-eater, White-throated and Pied Kingfishers, Clamorous Reed and Cetti’s Warblers and Dead Sea Sparrow.

The management plan was prepared by JBW during 2018, and includes activities for preparing the site for visitors and minimizing threats, namely overgrazing, encroachment by an invasive shrub, hunting of birds and waste management.

Soon after the management plan was prepared, however, new plans to invest within and around the SCA have been announced. Nonetheless, JBW along with supporters is determined to protect the natural bird habitats along the wadi which flows into River Jordan. GIZ and SGF/UNDP are supporting JBW in carrying out two projects at the site in 2019-2020 (see projects for more information).

For information on how to reach the site and for organized birding trips please contact JBW.

Important surveys in Jordan

Herds, wild grazing

2015-2019

National breeding surveys of rare, poorly known and geographically restricted species in Jordan are shedding light on current distribution and threats to bird habitats, such as windfarms in the southern highlands and unsustainable farming and overgrazing in Wadi Araba and the Jordan Valley.

Birding trips are also constantly adding information about various bird species.

JBW updates the national bird list and its members publish significant records, such as the colonization of Black-winged Kite in Sandgrouse (vol. 39, 2017).

Exhibition 16th February 2017

Beyond COP 21 Symposium,

JBW participated in an exhibition as part of the full day “Beyond COP 21 Symposium” held at Al Ahliyyah School for Girls (CMS) on Thursday, 16th February 2017 and in partnership with Bishop’s School for Boys and Mashrek International School.

Material with information about bird-watching activities and the current threats to birds and their habitats was displayed to school children and educators.

JBW presented PowerPoint slides about birds in Jordan, in addition to bird guides, bird watching tools, and posters and other material tackling problems such as excessive hunting, habitat destruction and wind farm developments, and engaged in discussions with curious students and school teachers.