Jordan’s Government Wants to Mine Its Largest Nature Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve

Image: jcookfisher, CreativeCommons

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

The Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest and most diverse protected area, spanning dunes and towering mountains and home to half of the country’s bird species. Now, the Jordanian government plans to mine the reserve for copper, Al Jazeera reports. The reserve is currently under consideration for status as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its ecological diversity, “outstanding” geological formations, and rare tree species. If the plan proceeds, the reserve’s hills will be blasted to extract the metal, threatening the plants and wildlife. Endangered mountain goats and Arabian panthers have survived partly because of the reserve’s protections.


So far, no environmental impact statements have been made public to assess the damage mining would cause. 


Why This Matters: Mining and damaging a protected, biodiverse reserve is counterproductive to the world’s climate and conservation goals. Rangers say the proposed project would harm the land and animals living on it. Other threats posed by mining include sapping the area’s already scarce water supply and  increasing soil erosion. Like the Trump Administration’s attempts to convert national parks into mining areas, the project puts everyday Jordanian people in the position of having to defend their protected areas from the government. 


“The excavations will ruin the area we were protecting for so many years,” ranger Abdulrahman Ammarin from the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature told Al Jazeera.


Mining Project Uses Classic Jobs vs. Environment False Logic

The government has defended the project in part by claiming there’s nothing to protect in the reserve. “What environment? There are no animals. There are no trees, nothing at all here,” a spokesperson from the company licensed to mine on the reserve said at a press conference


Additionally, they’ve touted job creation as a benefit of the project. But conservation and employment opportunities are not mutually exclusive — the mine would only be operational for about 20 years, so mining jobs would likely be short-term and not well paid. Meanwhile, the reserve employs people in sustainable tourism projects. With people’s homes and agricultural land close to the proposed mining site,  livelihoods and food sources will also be made vulnerable. In all, the environmental damage would long outlive economic benefits.

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