Jordan: Dana Biosphere Reserve

Introduction

SUMAMAD project/Ma’en Smadi
Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan

Dana Biosphere Reserve (DBR) is located in the southern part of Jordan, 200 km south of Amman and on the Eastern margin of the Rift Valley. The reserve was established in 1993 and is one of the largest nature reserves in Jordan covering about 320 km2. The DBR is the only reserve in Jordan that includes the four different biogeographical zones of the country (Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo Arabian, and Sudanian penetration) and as such, it is the most diverse nature reserve in the country in terms of habitats and species.
The climate of the reserve ranges from the arid desert climate of Wadi Araba lowlands with high temperatures and low rainfall all year around, to the Mediterranean semiarid climate of the Eastern Rift Valley highlands with a cold rainy winter and hot dry summer.
About 52 families and 524 persons live within the reserve while 28,000 people live near the reserve in six villages located on the borders of the reserve. The reserve and surrounding area is inhabited by a composition of Bedouins, Saudyeen and Atata tribes.
The Bedouins mainly use the Wadi Araba lowlands that includes Wadi Dana and their main source of income is derived from livestock rearing. The Atata and Saudyeen live in the upper part of the reserve, which they use for livestock grazing.
The conservation of natural habitats and the sustainable use of grazing resources in Dana BR is one of principal mandates of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which requires a practical approach for dealing with pastoral communities using grazing resources of the reserve. The lack of reliable databases related to vegetation (coverage, diversity, biomass production), grazing management (grazing capacity, grazing plans), and livestock population in the areas surrounding Dana BR encouraged RSCN to think of conducting a series of studies to establish databases about biotic and abiotic components of the Dana BR ecosystems to halt land degradation and to develop a proper management plan for the biosphere reserve.

Project objective

© RSCN
Workshop on Rangeland Management planning

The objective for the second phase of the SUMAMAD project is to develop a community-based grazing management scheme with the full participation of the local community. Through a participatory approach, it is expected that effective and agreed-upon grazing regulation schemes can be implemented at Dana BR.

The specific objectives are to:

1. Prepare and implement a comprehensive baseline survey on livestock and rangeland use and to identify current grazing activities.
2. Review relevant literature on effective participatory approaches and outreach mechanisms to local communities.

3. Characterize pastoral communities using the natural resources of Al Bara area in Dana BR.
4. Develop scenarios for grazing management in full consultation with the local community.
5. Regulate and manage grazing in Dana BR through the preparation of an integrated rangeland and livestock management plan.

Results

© Maen Smadi and Mohamad Yousef
Assessment of the natural watering points at Al-Barrah

The activities in the DBR have been focused on biodiversity conservation and eco-tourism.

In 2011, a rapid assessment of the natural watering points in Al-Barrah was conducted in order to select three for cleaning and renovation. These watering points will provide water to stockowners during their stay in the area.

A two-day workshop was held to develop scenarios for grazing management in full consultation with the local community. Management techniques include rest rotational grazing, expansion of the grazing area to lower areas, and reducing grazing pressure through a grazing share in an effort to maintain the current status and usage. A capacity building workshop was held on rangeland management where experts from other Biosphere Reserves were invited to participate in order to share experiences. In order to regulate and manage grazing in DBR, a rangeland grazing management plan and monitoring and evaluation programme were set up, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Barret Dana Cooperative.

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