People, Biodiversity & Ecology
Jordan has a varied biodiversity due to its unique geographic location, which has given rise to a number of distinct ecosystems. These include the Dead Sea salt lake, the fertile Jordan River basins, the corals of the Gulf of Aqaba, the plains of the Badia (desert), the rich northern highlands and the freshwater wetland of Azarq.
Jordan is also home to two biosphere reserves – Dana and Mujib – created under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. MAB combines natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and safeguard natural ecosystems. Biosphere reserves are places recognized by MAB where there is active local community involvement in their governance and management, research, education, training and monitoring at the service of both socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. They are thus sites for learning and understanding about sustainable development.
Despite the establishment of two biosphere reserves, a large proportion of Jordan’s natural biodiversity is under threat. This is due to unsustainable agricultural practices such as extensive farming and agricultural waste, as well as urbanization and industrial pollution. UNESCO in Jordan therefore undertakes research, knowledge sharing and capacity building activities to protect the country’s biodiversity, as well as provide support to the operation of the biosphere reserves.