Archive for the ‘The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature’ Category

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – National Curriculum

April 1, 2010

In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, RSCN has been steadily integrating environmental concepts into the Jordanian curricula to ensure that environmental awareness is developed at an early stage, reaching a large section of students over a range of ages through grade 1 – 12. Environmental concepts that are related to students’ lives and surroundings have been tied closely with existing lessons in the curricula, motivating students to better understand these topics. Through their participation in environmental related school activities, children can become more involved in nature conservation and protection.

Environmental concepts are integrated into school books in a way that is suitable with expected learning outcomes. Such information is appropriate to the students’ age, widely dispersed through the subject areas and presented in a realistic way which encourages the development of practical skills and positive attitudes, to be reflected in their everyday behavior and practices.

In the past, topics have covered the environment in general, and water conservation in specific. In 2003, RSCN took the opportunity to develop curricula with the Ministry of Education as a part of Educational Reform for Knowledge Economy Project, to include biodiversity concepts in the curricula. Presently, herbs and medicinal plants concepts are being integrated as additional subjects in relation to vocational studies in secondary education.

RSCN has also focused on creating different learning resources, including educational cds, websites, guidebooks, and games, to enhance learning and stimulate students’ interest in environmental education. These resources provide for all children’s needs, taking into account multiple learning styles and skills.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society of the conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/RaisingAwareness/NationalCurriculum/tabid/103/Default.aspx

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The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Nature Conservation Clubs

April 1, 2010

“I promise to conserve nature in my country and work to protect its soil, air, water, flora, and fauna, so that it may stay beautiful and rich for my generation and generations to come.” That is the pledge of a Nature Conservation Club (NCC) member, which encapsulates the spirit in which these clubs were first created in 1986. RSCN started its first Nature Conservation Clubs in schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, which aimed at helping children understand environmental issues and their importance. Since that time, the network of NCCs has grown to include over 1000 schools across the Kingdom, increasing levels of environmental awareness and concern in Jordanian youth.

RSCN envisions a future of nature loving generations that are aware of the need to protect nature, and who are infused with a sense of responsibility to take initiative to do so. A Nature Conservation Club aims to raise the awareness of its members and school students about conservation efforts and wildlife in Jordan, while instilling them with an adventurous and exploratory spirit, and providing them with the opportunity to participate in nature conservation programs.

Students that join Nature Conservation Clubs feel an affinity towards nature, seeking to learn about the environment and biodiversity, and their protection. NCCs provide information and activities that enable the knowledge acquired in the classroom to be applied in practical ways in the real world for the good of the environment and the local community. Through such efforts, the environmental message can be taken directly into the student’s home; giving each student a greater sense of his/her role in conservation.

If your child is interested in getting more involved with nature and making an active difference, ask your child’s school about their Nature Conservation Club. If one does not exist and you would like to have it established, please encourage your school to contact RSCN or the educational officer at the nearest nature reserve.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/RaisingAwareness/NatureConservationClubs/tabid/101/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Reserve Programs

April 1, 2010

 

In order to ignite a spark of passion for nature within the new generation, RSCN began to introduce young people to environmental concepts in schools through series of lectures and activities. Environmental concepts were also slowly introduced into the national curriculum (link to curriculum page), introducing students to environmental issues of great concern, such as water conservation, resource management, and biodiversity, among others. To amplify students’ knowledge and understanding of these concepts, RSCN began developing interactive programs to deliver environmental education in a practical and exciting manner, drawing students out of their classrooms and into nature; aiming to create vested future advocates and supporters of conservation in the reserves.

Fun is the major ingredient used to stimulate students; combining entertainment, education, and fieldwork to relay the importance of nature conservation. Different environmental education programs are specially tailored and designed to highlight the unique biodiversity and wildlife in each reserve. The first stage of program development involves assessments of area surveys and project studies that are related to the conservation of each individual area, including status of biodiversity, reasons for establishing the site as a Protected Area, and existing threats, taking into account all the necessary information and relevant numbers.

Afterwards, a KAB Assessment study an is done for students, measuring their Knowledge, Attitude and Behavior, drawing a comparison between local students from the reserve area and students around the Kingdom, as well as those students that are members of Nature Conservation Clubs (NCC) and those that are not. Program developers then research and assess environmental concepts existing in the curriculum and the methods in which these concepts are taught, whether as skills, knowledge, or applicable behavior.

Based on the results of their studies, an interactive environmental education program is developed that serves conservation efforts through encouraging students to gain new attitudes, knowledge and behaviors that close the gaps which are discovered throughout the process. Concepts learned in school were evolved to include all the aspects of a student’s life, aiming to teach them how these concepts may be applied at home in his/her daily life.

RSCNs network of over 1000 Nature Conservation Clubs (NCC) proved to be the perfect vehicle for utilizing these education programs at the reserves, which are implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Education. For every school term, a complete study timetable is created for the students. On certain days, schools from each governorate visit a certain reserve, based on the closest reserve the school is located near, although this does not necessarily restrict schools. The schedule is created based on the number of NCCs, allowing all clubs to visit reserve throughout the year.

Throughout the school year, club coordinators give lectures and hold activities t at the schools to NCC students, preparing them for their visit to the reserve. Educational officers from the reserves also make visits to individual school’s NCCs to help prepare students and teachers through awareness programs, covering different aspects of understanding and pure knowledge, to enable the students to competently engage in practical work while in the field; arming students with the proper knowledge to engage in an interactive and aware manner upon visiting the reserve.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/RaisingAwareness/ReservePrograms/tabid/104/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Environmental Education

April 1, 2010

“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught”

Baba Dioum, Senegal Poet

Due to RSCNs continued dedication to conservational efforts, environmental protection in Jordan has showed remarkable progress, reaching exceptional heights of advancement throughout the past 40 years. However, significant sustainable results cannot be achieved by the solitary efforts of a select few.

Considering that humans are the main cause of nature’s rapid degradation, a severe behavioral change is needed to truly affect change in our current situation. Since its establishment, RSCN has realized the need for a more aware and environmentally conscious public. For this purpose, awareness programs have been at the heart of many of its projects.

RSCN designed its environmental education programs to improve peoples’ general understanding and awareness of environmental issues. In addition to launching awareness programs targeting local communities around the reserves, encouraging all people to take practical action to help conserve the environment, for the past 30 years, RSCN has also invested in bringing environmental education into schools, in an attempt to establish a new generation of nature conscious students. These programs have been shaped with three goals in mind; transfer knowledge, train educators, and take action.

To reach children, RSCN uses a variety of creative methods, such as fine arts, theatre, internet, interactive programs, games, and much more, as part of its three main vehicles for spreading environmental awareness. These vehicles are development of National Curriculum, Reserve Education Programs, and Nature Conservation Clubs. The focus of these programs has been to encourage questioning and investigation by students, with direct hands-on experience, using fieldwork as a catalyst to learning, while developing understanding and curiosity about nature.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/RaisingAwareness/EnvironmentalEducation/tabid/137/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Azraq Wetland Reserve

April 1, 2010

 

In 1978, RSCN established Azraq Wetland Reserve to conserve the uniquely precious oasis located in the heart of Jordan’s eastern desert, between a limestone desert in the west and a basalt desert in the east. It is distinguished by lush marshland and natural water collections that form glittering pools and streams, giving Azraq its name, which is the Arabic word for ‘blue’.

In 1977, the Ramsar Convention declared Azraq Wetland and the adjacent mudflat (Qa) as a major station for migratory birds on the African-Eurasian flyway. A variety of birds flock to the reserve each year, stopping for a short rest along their migration routes, staying for the winter, or breeding within the wetland. The Azraq wetland is the only oasis in the Arabian Desert with a self-replenishing system that has allowed it to sustain itself throughout the years.

Unfortunately, the wetland suffered an environmental disaster because of abuse and overuse of water from the Azraq Basin. Due to excessive pumping of water from the oasis to large urban areas and the illegal drilling of artesian wells for agricultural purposes, water levels have steadily dropped over the course of 50 years, starting to decrease significantly in 1981 and reaching alarming rates in 1993. These high levels of water extraction resulted in the extreme depletion of this natural oasis, drying up massive areas of invaluable wetland equaling over 25 km2. In 1992 the main springs which were feeding the wetland had dried out and water level reached a depth of 12 meters below ground level. The water body that used to be a thriving ecological hotspot has dwindled alarmingly to cover 0.04 % of the area it used to cover in the past; the effects of which can be clearly seen in declining numbers of birds stopping over in Azraq wetland on their migratory route.

Before water pumping dramatically increased in the 1980s, the oasis provided a sparkling blue jewel in the desert, attracting up to a million migrating birds at one time, as it marks one of the major bird migratory routes. At times, an upwards glance at the Azraq sky would find it teeming with masses of birds, blocking out the light of day. By 1993, the extraction of water was so great that no surface water remained and the oasis’s ecological value was virtually destroyed.

With international support, RSCN began a rescue effort in 1994 and managed to restore a significant portion of the wetland, and aims to increase depleted water levels by 10 percent. So far, this target has not been achieved due to continued water pumping, lack of manpower, and a lack of experience in wetland management. However, thanks to RSCN’s efforts, many birds for which Azraq was once renowned for are coming back, and special boardwalks and bird hides have been constructed to enable visitors to observe and enjoy them.

The wetland is a location of rich biodiversity, providing a natural habitat for numerous aquatic and terrestrial species, including the Azraq Killifish Aphanius sirhani, the only true endemic vertebrate species of Jordan. Due to the degradation of the species native habitat, the killifish is a critically endangered species as identified by the World Conservation Union IUCN. Restoration work has been done on its habitat, in order to protect the species from extinction. RSCNs efforts have been highly effective in this area, greatly increasing the numbers of killifish in their natural habitat.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/HelpingNature/ProtectedAreas/AzraqWetlandReserve/tabid/98/Default.aspx

The Royal society for the Conservation of Nature – Dibeen Forest Reserve

April 1, 2010

 

In 2004, RSCN established its latest nature reserve in Dibeen Forest northern Jordan. Dibeen Forest Reserve extends over 8.5 km2 of mountainous terrain, covering an area of pristine pine-oak habitat (Pinus halipensis-Quercus calliprinos). These Aleppo pines are some of the oldest and largest in the Kingdom, and are the defining characteristic of this landscape, representing the southeastern geographical limit of this forest type. Dibeen is the driest part of the world in which the Aleppo pines are known to grow naturally, with an average rainfall of around 400mm per year.

Dibeen was ranked as the top priority site for conservation in the 1998 Protected Areas review, after being overlooked in the original 1979 review, as studies have revealed that Dibeen is one of the best remaining examples of the original pine-oak forest cover in the region and supports at least 17 threatened species, like the Persian Squirrel, and other globally significant biodiversity.

The entire forest of Dibeen extends over an area of 60 km2, varying in altitude from 500m to 1000m above sea level. The forest is spread over steep to very steep slopes of limestone or chalky limestone rock types. The physical and age structure of the forest as a whole is remarkably varied with trees of widely different ages and sizes and a distinct under-canopy in many areas. This variety is aided by the presence of wadis, which provide different aspects, moisture levels and soil conditions throughout the forest.

The reserve is positioned in the core of this forest, encompassing three main stand types in the core area, distributed according to altitude. In the lower elevations, Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) is dominant and there are some pure stands with large mature trees. In the middle elevations, a pine-oak (Pinus halepensis / Quercus calliprinos) association is dominant and this extends over the majority of the area. In the upper elevations, the oak succeeds as the dominant species with small stands of deciduous oak (Quercus infectoria) on the upper most slopes. Other trees present in the forest include Strawberry tree (Arbutus andrachine), pistachio (Pistachia palestina) and wild olive (Olea europea); while the ground flora is exceptionally rich and includes several orchid species and other forest related plant species.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/HelpingNature/ProtectedAreas/DibeenForestReserve/tabid/97/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Ajloun Forest Reserve

April 1, 2010

 

Established in 1987, Ajloun Forest Reserve covers an area of 13 km2 located in the Ajloun highlands north of Amman. It consists of Mediterranean-like hill country, ranging from 600 – 1100 m above sea level, with a series of small and medium winding valleys.

Ajloun forest was first proposed as a protected area in the 1978 survey. Its ecological importance is represented by the Evergreen Oak vegetation type, which is typical of the northern highlands of Jordan. As part of the Mediterranean bio-geographical region of the country, it is dominated by open woodlands that account for a significant part of Jordan’s forested area, which does not exceed 1% of the country’s entire land area.

Along with stretches of Evergreen Oak Quercus calliprinos, the thriving woodlands of Ajloun are dominated by Carob Ceratonia siliqua, wild Pistachio Pistacia palaestina and Strawberry tree Arbutus andrachne. Throughout the years, these trees have been important to local people for their wood and quite often for their medicinal and nutritional value or simply as a food source. These woodlands also support a wide range of plant and animal biodiversity, including herds of wild boar Sus scrofa, the Stone Marten Martes foina, which is a carnivore that is known to be restricted to forest habitats, and the golden Jackal Canis aureus, which can still be found in good numbers in and around the reserve, as well as the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Persian Squirrel Sciurus anomalus, Indian Crested Porcupine Hystrix indica, and wolf Canis lupus. A wide variety of wild flowers thrive in Ajloun forest, including the Black Iris, several orchids and wild tulips, several of which can be found in CITES appendices. In 2000, Ajloun Forest Reserve was announced, by BirdLife International and RSCN, as an Important Bird Area in Jordan.

After the reserves establishment, RSCN initiated a captive breeding program aiming to reintroduce the locally extinct Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus. The Roe Deer is adapted to forest habitats, and feeds on a variety of trees, shrubs and grasses. The rich forests that covered the Ajloun area once provided an ideal habitat for this noble creature, but deforestation over the past 200 years led to the extinction of the Roe Deer in Jordan. Since launching its captive breeding program at Ajloun Forest Reserve in 1988, RSCN has managed to release a number of Roe Deer into the reserve, where they have continued to grow within their natural habitat.

Ajloun Forest Reserve still faces several threats, as the shape of the reserve and its borders have been negatively affected by the presence of private lands around it. Presently, this has led to several problems in managing the reserve, due to the existence of many unofficial access points into the reserve, allowing people to enter the reserve for the illegal purpose of woodcutting, grazing or hunting.

Nonetheless, Ajloun Forest Reserve has one of the most effective outreach and public awareness programs among Jordan’s nature reserves. This has led to the raised awareness of the local communities inhabiting the area, emphasizing the importance of the reserve and its maintenance. For this reason, RSCN has managed to establish several initiatives of cooperation between the reserve and the people living around the reserve.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/HelpingNature/ProtectedAreas/AjlounForestReserve/tabid/96/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Shaumari Wildlife Reserve

April 1, 2010

 Closed for Renovation”

In 1975, RSCN began fencing areas within Shaumari in preparation for the first wildlife protection reserve in Jordan, covering an area of 22 km2. Shaumari Reserve acted as the first model reserve in Jordan’s dry desert climate, providing grounds for learning practical application methods in establishing and managing other reserves around Jordan. It is comprised of two main topographic features, desert wadis and hammada areas. Desert wadis form around 65% of its total area, the most well-known being Wadi Shaumari, which cuts straight through the heart of the site, giving the reserve its name. Hammada areas occupy the remaining 35%, covering the area with a layer of black flint. Shaumari provides an open location for Jordanian Universities undergoing scientific research on arid and semi-arid areas.

Shaumari has been found to support highly varied biodiversity. So far, more than 193 species of flora have been recorded at the reserve, the most common species being Achillea fragrantissima, Artemisia sieberi, Matricaria aurea, Haloxylon persicum, Anabasis articulata, Retama raetam and Peganum harmala. Six species of carnivores have been found to inhabit the area, including the Red Fox Vulpes velpes, Jackal Canis aureus, Wolf Canis lupus, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Caracal Caracal caracal, and Wild Cat Felis sylvestris, while bird sightings in the reserve include Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, and Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus.

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve was initially created as a breeding center aiming to breed and reintroduce the globally threatened and locally extinct wildlife and specifically the Arabian Oryx Oryx leucoryx. In 1978, joined by international efforts, RSCN initiated the Arabian Oryx rescue operation after receiving 4 Oryx animals from the Phoenix Zoo, USA, into specially prepared breeding enclosures in Shaumari Reserve, in an attempt to return the Arabian Oryx to its native desert habitat. By 1983, this operation met its first success, after the release of 31 Arabian Oryx from captivity into their native habitats within the reserve.

Shaumari Wildlife Reserve is now home to some of the rarest species of animals in the Middle East, such as Ostriches Struthio camelus, Goitered Gazelles Gazella subgutturosa and Persian Onagers Equus hemionus. RSCN has exerted great effort to help these animals rebuild their populations and reassert their presence within the safety of the reserve, protected from the hunting and habitat destruction that nearly wiped them out.

Visitors to Shaumari have an opportunity to see the living results of this global co-operation. The Oryx can often be seen roaming freely in the desert grassland, and the Ostriches, Gazelles, and Onagers can be observed in their enclosures. As a model of environmental education that is suitable for all levels of learners, the reserve has become a popular spot for children and school outings.

This post is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/HelpingNature/ProtectedAreas/ShaumariWildlifeReserve/tabid/95/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Mujib Nature Reserve

April 1, 2010

 

Established in 1987, Mujib Nature Reserve covers an area of 212 km2. Bordering the Dead Sea at 416 meters below sea level, the Mujib Nature Reserve surrounds Wadi Mujib, a deep and majestic canyon that cuts through the rugged highlands and drains into the Dead Sea. Seasonal and permanent streams flow through many of the wadis, supporting luxurious aquatic plants in the river-beds. These rivers also enable this otherwise arid area to support a remarkable diversity of wildlife. It is also one of the major sources that compensate the high evaporation rate of the Dead Sea

Surveys indicate that the reserve contains over 300 species of plants, 10 species of carnivores, and numerous species of resident and migratory birds. The richest vegetation is found in the wadi beds where there are Palm Trees, in addition to Wild Fig, Tamarix trees and beautiful Oleander shrubs, in addition to the Reedbed along the river.

The steep mountain slopes support several highly adapted mammals, including theRock Hyrax, the Eurasian Badger and, most importantly, the Nubian Ibex, a large mountain goat. Today, only a small number of Ibex remain in the wild due to widespread illegal hunting. In order to save this animal from extinction, RSCN finished a ten year re-introduction program for the Ibex in the reserve, where the captive bred animals were kept.

Many carnivores inhabit the various vegetation zones in Mujib. The Caracal, a medium sized cat with black and white ear-tufts, lives in rocky wadis. It is a powerful and agile hunter with great jumping power, known to catch flying birds in its paws.

Mujib is also an internationally important passage way for migratory birds. Huge numbers of White Storks passed through every year starting from August, Black Storks, Buzzards, Honey Buzzards, Levant Sparrow Hawks, and much more. The globally threatened Lesser Kestrel breeds in the reserve every spring. The breeding population reaches some times 0.1 % of the globally estimated population. At least nine species of birds of prey are known to breed in the reserve, significantly Bonelli’s eagle, Short-toad Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, and Barbary Falcon.

This post is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/HelpingNature/ProtectedAreas/MujibNatureReserve/tabid/94/Default.aspx

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – Dana Biosphere Reserve

April 1, 2010

 

Established in 1989, Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering some 320 km2 of rugged and beautiful landscape along the face of the Great Rift Valley. It sweeps down in a series of mountain ridges, from the 1500m high plateau near Quadesiyya to the desert plains of Wadi Araba. The mountains are cut by many steep-sided wadis, often lined with a lush growth of trees and shrubs. Its geology is as varied as its landscape, switching from limestone to sandstone to granite.

Dana Biosphere Reserve is the only reserve in Jordan that includes the four different bio-geographical zones of the country; Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo Arabian and Sudanian penetration. As such, it is the most diverse nature reserve in the country in terms of habitats and species, hosting several vegetation types, including the Phoenician Juniper, evergreen oak, sand dunes, acacia, and rocky sudanian, among others. It is also home to the southernmost remaining forest community of Cypress Cupressus simpervirens.

More than 800 plant species can be found within the reserve, three of which have only ever been recorded in Dana and nowhere else in the world. Their Latin names include the word ‘Dana’ in them.

Dana supports a wide variety of wildlife, including many rare species of plants and animals. It is home to several globally threatened species of birds and mammals, such as Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Blanford’s Fox Vulpes cana and Nubian Ibex Capra nubiana. The largest breeding colony in the world for Syrian Serin is located in Dana, while the Lesser Kestrel is also found to breed in the area.

In 1994, funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF), RSCN took pioneering steps in its attempt to conserve the precious biodiversity in Dana, putting together the first protected area management plan in Jordan, and making Dana Biosphere Reserve into a model of integrated conservation and socio-economic development. This plan set objectives, strategies, and priorities that ultimately seek to find a balance between protecting Dana’s natural wonders and meeting the needs of local people. This strategy mostly based on the concept of zoning, defining areas where certain activities can or cannot happen, allowing for grazing zones and recreation zones. Following this approach, Dana became the first site in which responsible tourism began taking place.

To date, RSCN has received several global awards for its success in alleviating poverty and creating job opportunities for local communities, in combination with integrating nature conservation.

Major threats to the natural environment of the area still include overgrazing, woodcutting, and hunting, mainly of Ibex and Chukar.

This piece is taken from the website of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

See on-line at: http://www.rscn.org.jo/orgsite/RSCN/HelpingNature/ProtectedAreas/DanaBiosphereReserve/tabid/93/Default.aspx