Friday, June 14, 2013

Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark June 13

June 13, 2013 Western Jordan with Adnan Budieri, Friends of the Earth Middle East

We went on a tour to the Jordan River on the western Jordan Valley on the border with Israel and Palestine. We claimed up circuitous mountain west from Amman, then down into the Jordan Valley. The hillsides are badly overgrazed. This spring was a good water year, yet the slopes were largely denuded of vegetation. Animal trails could be seen throughout the steep slopes, with rills and erosion tracking down the mountainside. The headwaters of watersheds became deeply incised and head cutting occurred throughout the drainages.

The Jordan Valley is part of the Great Rift Valley, stretching all the way from Turkey to Africa. As we descended from the mountains, the air was a shimmery blue haze and we could see down to the meandering green pattern of the river, the fertile valley bottom, and the border of so much conflict in the world. This is the place so many stories we read as children in Sunday school, and this is the place I imagined. It's amazing that Jesus was here in this valley, where he was baptized, a Dave he hid in. Adnan pointed out the plant "Crown of Thorns (Ziziphus spinachristi) that was put around Jesus head.

Olives are called poor mans agriculture. They grow without irrigation;farmers dig a trough around them to collect spring rainwater, then leave them to grow and produce. The lower slopes have olives trees, the upper have sparse individual trees. The forest were once Cypress Pine (with bigger nuts) and Aleppo Pine (Pinus halogensis). Things that are native and growing wild on the hillsides include carob, pistachio, fig, grapes, and castor oil plant.

The Jordan River flow has been reduced from 1.3 billion cubic meters per year to less than 70 million cubic meters per year.  Since much of the are is a closed military zone, the reduced flows and poor quality water are not readily noticed and complained about by the public. Due to regional instability I
I'm thinking there are not agreements on allocation of water, and that the river will continue to have flow reductions.
The Eco park is a paradise.

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