Friday, February 16, 2007

On the Dibbin controversy

I have noticed a concerted campaign going on to “save” the Dibbin forest from a development planned by Dubai Capital. Environmental groups have been pushing for a serious environmental impact study in order force DC to build its resort on the fringes of the forest. They did not like an earlier one that was submitted to the ministry of environment. They ask the public to sign a petition here, but I have not found the petition itself. What does it say? No project, move the project, EIA, what? I am amazed that people are signing a petition that they did not read. If anybody can give me a link to the actual petition, I will gladly read it and consider signing it.

A year ago, I wrote about the need to view ecotourism development as an approach towards sustainable use of our precious natural sites. Such development will take into consideration the economic and social needs of the local community and at the same time provide adequate stewardship to the forest and the ecosystem it sustains.

My post at the time complained about the elitist approach to ecotourism in Jordan. Not enough people are aware of the many great sites in the country, and those which are developed for tourism are designed to cater mostly to foreigners or affluent Jordanians. This inevitably leads to a sense of disenfranchisement and resentment on the part of most average Jordanians.

Thus, it is of little surprise that large segments of Jordanians show little interest in the issue. On the other hand, the local community is looking for improving its economic state through the project. The discourse of the local population in Jarash seems to swing between supporting the project, in the hope of creating jobs and economic opportunity, and rejecting it on the basis that it will do nothing of the kind. Most Jarashis view the archaeology of the city as a burden, and providing little to the local economy. Many feel that the Dubai Capital project will be the same. The environmental aspect of the debate is of little interest to them.

Now, not doing anything will not mean that the forest will be safe and protected. The rising cost of heating fuel the last couple of years has provided added incentive for people to illegally chop down trees for firewood. This year has seen increased firewood collection from forests all over Jordan. It is a safe bet that poor economic conditions, cold children, and the lack of economic incentive to protect the forest will ultimately lead to severe damage to the forest. This is not rocket science.

So, while I for one would feel much better if the DC project is moved to outskirts of the forest, I also feel that some development should take place there which would include the needs of the local population as well as of the natural ecosystem. Simply wishing that DC and their project will go away will do little for the people or for the forest.

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12 Comments:

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Batir said...

The petition is for changing the location of the project to "outside" the forest area and I think you are right that the online form did not elaborate.

 
At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Muna said...

Everybody wants to "protect" Dibbin. Has anybody ever thought of keeping it clean? Try driving by on a Friday evening, after everybody has packed up and left, but ofcourse forgot to pack up their trash!

 
At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Nas said...

i grant your point that the petition isnt detailed enough and hopefully that will be amended soon, but if that's what's keeping you from signing it in the spirit of helping to save a forest...

well then for once khalaf you're not seeing the forest for the trees :-D

ya3ni details aside we should all be on board with the general objective of saving a forest.

they're not asking for a credit card number

Muna: your point is granted as well. most of our sites are not as clean as they should be and people are not being socially responsible. but what does that have to do with this campaign?

 
At 10:38 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Batir: I look forward to reading the petition.

Muna: The lack of awareness is only partially the fault of the visitors. Are there any waste cans? How about signs, or rangers? This is my point. Simply leaving the forest the way it is without proper management will lead to it's degradation.

Nas: Come on. If I want somebody to sign a petition, I let them read it. Is that too much to ask? Is it enough to sign a document based on the perceived good intentions of the writer?

 
At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rising fuel cost and cold children! Who on earth can blame a very poor father to chop down a tree to try to warm his children. You and I can wail about the trees ( and I am convinced that we should). Would love to share your pragmatism and the hinted elitism. Moder Haddadin on 60 minutes did his share and pointing to his huge chest said I FILLED THE DAM. Dubai capital and Sameer are building something in the core, the outskirts, the tree barks. They are trying to make money. Our very corrupt officials are lubed to give them the necessary clearances and defend the bloody thing. If the average ajolouny/jerashy will have only one Fojica heater it will cost him more than 3 JDs per day. The Bawary will cost around 4 JDs. Please be assured that the above will defrost only one room (why do not people shower every morning before going to work darling?)

Our average Mo is starving freezing. No one bloody cares. Not sure if they should since dear old Mo is still giving the praise to the government.

Now. Back to the real world. Debbin and all our green need the diesel to be subsidized, DC to bugger off, and the government to be a government. No picnicker will continue to throw trash if he or she finds that it is against the law to do so. Is it a country or a farm dear old Elephant and castle.

 
At 10:56 PM, Anonymous nas said...

"Come on. If I want somebody to sign a petition, I let them read it. Is that too much to ask?"

no it's not, which is why i granted your point.

"Is it enough to sign a document based on the perceived good intentions of the writer?"

ah...not on the good intentions of the writer but on the good intentions of a campaign. hence the earlier metaphor

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Anon: Raising the economic conditions of the people is an acceptable alternative to subsidies, which will frankly never come back.

Even the most market oriented societies manage to balance between development and the environment. The government should play a role. Local communities should play an even bigger role.

Nas: I will not split hairs about this. I will sign the petition if I read it and agree with it. If it does not exist (as I suspect) then I will be happy to volunteer to write a draft.

 
At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Nas said...

khalaf, dude you're the kid in junior high i used to make fun of :-D

 
At 11:48 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

I might be the kid you laughed at, but achieved more than you later. Remember, he who laughs last laughs best.

Now go to bed and try not to think of the possibility that you signed a petition that does not exist.

Sweet dreams :p

 
At 12:24 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

dude i was just joking, no need to take it seriously

 
At 10:17 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Nas: I was joking as well. I hope you are getting over your flu. I went through the same last week.

 
At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nas--

As a foreigner who is a guest worker in your country, I can say that I am pleased by efforts to find solutions to protect forests like Dibbeen.

That said, your mix of arrogance and insecurity is damning... and it will hurt your campaign. Like putting up the webpage was already so much hard work that you feel justified in acting like the Dalai Lama.

You shouldn't even be questioning someone from the community wanting more information -- you should be grateful for their interest-- its another opportunity for you to make your case and win people over.

But you act like they owe you something. You are dealing with some tough issues, issues of dire poverty-- so its going to be sticky, no matter the outcome.

I am happy to see environmental campaigns like this one. Its in all of our best interests-- but cut the crap.

 

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