Agriculture Ministry launches afforestation project on the Desert Highway

The Desert Highway on January 17, 2020. The highway, 420km long, runs from Aqaba, Jordan’s southernmost city, to Ramtha. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — A Ministry of Agriculture endeavor is set to create work opportunities, mitigate the impact of climate change, reduce air pollution, breathe oxygen into the environment, and enhance aesthetics to city entrances along the Desert Highway.اضافة اعلان

The project, recently launched by the ministry, aims to afforest 80 percent of the sideways of the Desert Highway over a period of four years, a ministry official told Jordan News on Tuesday.

Khaled Qudah, the head of the ministry’s Afforestation Directorate said the project would create 8,000 temporary employment opportunities for the local communities living in the towns and villages along the highway. “It’s an opportunity for unemployed young people to work for three months during each phase of the project,” he added.

Safa Jayousi, an environment and climate change expert, said that this project is an important contribution to the efforts of dealing with the climate change and will help in reducing air pollution and producing oxygen.

In addition to the afforestation efforts, Jayousi called for preserving existing trees by increasing scrutiny on logging and uprooting trees for construction purposes, and highlighted the importance of choosing the appropriate types of trees that correspond to the habitat of the highway to ensure the sustainability of the project.

Qudah assured that the ministry has determined the suitable types of trees that can flourish in the dry desert climate, including such indigenous trees as Tamarix, acacia, Casuarina, and Schinus molle (known as rosé or false pepper).

The project will focus on the entrances of governorates and towns such as Karak, Tafileh, and Shobak, as well as towns where the highway passes through and were irrigation is available such as Zeezya, Qatraneh, Hassa, and Maan, said the official.

Irrigation water will be transferred from South Amman Water Treatment Plant and pumped from artesian wells that produce water with high sulfur but safe for irrigation, according to Qudah.

The Ministry of Agriculture will cooperate with the local community and the concerned ministries and agencies to resolve issues related to electricity, water and gas lines along the highway.

The Desert Highway, Highway 15, connects the south to the north of Jordan starting from Aqaba, Jordan’s southernmost city, to Ramtha at the Syrian border. A water harvesting system will be implemented for irrigation and will serve to preserve moisture for the trees in the future.

This highway is based on the ancient Sultani Pilgrimage Road that was used over centuries by pilgrims from Turkey and Syria to Mecca and Madina. It is parallel to the well-known King’s Highway.

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