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RSCN rejects gov’t decision to begin copper mining in Dana Reserve

Government resets boundaries of Dana Biosphere Reserve ‘without consulting RSCN’

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Aug 19,2021 - Last updated at Aug 19,2021

A view of Dana Biosphere Reserve, located in Tafileh Governorate, 180km southwest of the capital (Photo courtesy of Jihad Bdour)

AMMAN — The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) disapproves of the government’s decision to commission the Ministry of Environment to reset the boundaries of Dana Biosphere Reserve to begin copper mining in the globally recognised nature sanctuary, RSCN Chairman Khaled Irani said on Tuesday 

“Mining copper in Dana Biosphere has been a longstanding issue rejected by the RSCN. Mining activities will harm the unique ecosystems of the biosphere,” Irani told The Jordan Times on Tuesday. 

The Prime Ministry allowed the Ministry of the Environment to adjust the geographical boundaries of the biosphere, “without consulting the RSCN”, Irani added. 

Dana Biosphere Reserve has been managed by the RSCN since 1989, according to the RSCN website.

Dana Biosphere is the first natural reserve nominated and added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention list. The biosphere is also one of the most popular environmental tourist attractions in the Kingdom. 

The biosphere employs 85 locals, indirectly supporting 200 families, and provides almost JD2.370 million annually to the local community, according to a RSCN statement sent to The Jordan Times.

The statement added that the RSCN is legally in charge of establishing and managing all of the natural reserves in the Kingdom, according to Jordan’s 2005 Environmental Law. 

Spread over 292 square kilometres, the biosphere is located in Tafileh Governorate, 180km southwest of Amman. 

The Dana Biosphere is Jordan’s largest and most diverse nature biosphere, with 891 vegetation types that constitute 30 per cent of the country’s total flora, according to the RSCN.  Three of the plants in Dana Biosphere  can only be found at the reserve, the statement added.

The Dana  Reserve is also an important bird-watching destination as it is home to 217 different bird species, which counts for 50 per cent of the birds found in the Kingdom. Many of these birds are threatened by global extinction, the RSCN statement said. 

Under Jordan’s environmental law, natural reserves are protected and all issues related to their establishment and management are governed by the bylaw, “Natural Reserves and National Park By Law”, according to the UNESCO website. Dana Biosphere Reserve has had a management plan since 1996, with identified buffer zones, the website said. 

Despite multiple attempts by The Jordan Times, the Environment Ministry’s spokesperson was not available for comment.

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