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Tree uprooting in Fifa reserve halted, says RSCN

‘Arab Potash Company had no connection to deforestation activities’

By JT - Jan 11,2020 - Last updated at Jan 11,2020

The Fifa Natural Reserve in the Ghour Fifa region (Al Rai photo)

AMMAN — The Southern Military Zone Command on Friday announced the termination of work inside the Fifa Natural Reserve from the Ghour Fifa region to the south of the Dead Sea, which resulted in the uprooting of trees on 1,600 dunums within a six-kilometre-long plot of land in the boundaries of the reserve.

The announcement came during a tour organised in the Fifa Reserve which gathered Minister of Environment Saleh Kharabsheh, Commander of the Southern Military Zone Brig. Gen. Subhi Nueimat and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) Khalid Irani, according to an RSCN statement.

Kharabsheh noted that a meeting with all concerned parties will be held with the aim of coordinating to find solutions that meet security needs without harming the environment or the local biodiversity.

The announcement was in response to news previously circulated suggesting that the Arab Potash Company was responsible for levelling Fifa lands, especially given that the company addressed the RSCN through the Jordan Valley Authority with the aim of expanding its concession area, the statement said.

During the tour, Nueimat reaffirmed that the Arab Potash Company has “no connection” to the levelling and deforestation activities in the Fifa reserve, adding that what happened was for “security purposes”.

The commander added that the armed forces have carefully monitored infiltration attempts from the borders along this area, because of the density of trees.

In order to increase visibility and ensure that all border areas are monitored for protection proposes, the armed forces have removed “some trees”, he said in the statement.

Nueimat revealed that the southern military zone approved work extending along 16 kilometres, but it stopped work at the six kilometre boundary, leaving the project incomplete.

The statement stressed that the levelling area is about three kilometres from the main street, which “made it impossible” to see what was happening inside the reserve.

For his part, Irani said that the RSCN will work to form a technical committee in cooperation with various concerned institutions to limit the damage to the reserve, as well as conduct studies to rehabilitate the area in coordination with the Southern Military Zone Command, ensuring that security needs are taken into consideration without harming nature.

He added that the RSCN, as a national institution, “affirms its keenness on” sustaining the nation’s environmental capabilities as well as the safety and security of the country, according to the statement.

Irani said that the efforts of environmental activists, the media, journalists, environmental societies and members of the public contributed to shedding light on the Fifa issue and halting the bulldozing and levelling inside the reserve.

The RSCN aims to spread awareness to all groups in the country on the public and official levels to form a strong base that adheres to the protection and preservation of nature, the statement said.

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