AMMAN — The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has become the first beneficiary of a grant that seeks to protect biodiversity in Jordan and the surrounding Mediterranean Basin, according to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). 

The RSCN will use the grant to develop a management plan for the Mujib Biosphere Reserve.

Birdlife International, in cooperation with the CEPF, will distribute grants to civil society organisations that submit proposals pertaining to relevant conservation efforts in Jordan. 

There are two types of grants, ranging between $20,000 and $1 million, according to Nina Marshall, managing director of CEPF. 

A total of $10.4 million has been allocated by CEPF donors to the region, Marshall told The Jordan Times in an interview on Wednesday. 

The contract with RSCN, signed last week, is the first of its kind in Jordan. 

Marshall highlighted the importance of the role that the RSCN will play in the Mujib area. 

“It [RSCN’s work] is really exciting… without a definitive management plan, it will be hard to ensure the long-term survival of this area,” she said.

The collaboration will fund non-governmental groups working in biodiversity hotspots, enabling “civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems”, according to the CEPF website. 

The importance of the project, Marshall said, is the involvement of civil society groups in the process, as this integrates normal people into the culture of biodiversity and conservation, thus making it more sustainable and approachable. 

The venture seeks to create networks and partnerships in the region as “going it alone, without the participation of civil society, simply is not sustainable in the long run”.

“We have seen that in this region there is a lack of awareness about the importance of biodiversity,” Marshall said, voicing hope that this will change as more factions of civil society become involved, through funding, in the conservation of the environment. 

“We are seeking the positive interaction and integration of major organisations and civil society in the realm of sustaining ecosystems,” Mohammed Yousef, programme leader of Birdlife’s regional implementation team, said. 

Those eligible for funding come under the collaboration’s broad definition of what constitutes civil society. 

“NGOs, community groups, universities, groups from the private sector and individuals may apply,” Marshall said. 

In addition to the Mujib reserve, the Jordan River is the only other “priority hotspot” in the Kingdom. 

According to Marshall, there have so far been no applications made to Birdlife International and CEPF to implement projects there. 

Jordan falls into the category of the South Syria and North Jordan corridor, which has 16 priority biodiversity hotspots in total. 

Currently, conservation in Syria has been halted due to the two-year old crisis.

Jordan is also part of the Mediterranean Basin, the second largest global biodiversity hotspot in the world. Stretching across 34 countries, it covers more than two-million square kilometres in total. 

It is the third richest hotspot in the world in terms of diversity of plants, hosting over 13,000 endemic species found nowhere else on Earth.