Jordan’s Updated Rangeland Strategy
Bedouin people in Jordan have governed their rangelands through their own land tenure systems and grazing rights known as “Hima” for millennia. Jordan’s Rangeland Strategy embraces this traditional, holistic concept, which effectively integrates natural resources, community life, ethics, animal welfare, and more. Promising pilot projects have achieved excellent biodiversity benefits. Jordan’s policy was bestowed with the Future Policy Bronze Award 2017, awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with the UNCCD.
- In 2013-14, Jordan updated its Rangeland Strategy, building on the ancient tradition of Hima, which integrates natural resources, community life, ethics, animal welfare, and more. It encourages communities to build their own institutions to manage the rangelands. The Hima concept mirrors the landscape restoration approach which is promoted globally by key stakeholders in combating land degradation.
- Jordan’s rangelands – which cover 80 per cent of the country – are degraded. First results of the strategy’s implementation can be seen in successful pilot projects, for example in the Bani Hashem community in central Jordan. After one year of activities with the local community protecting their Hima area, biodiversity benefits have already been observed. Indigenous floral species are back; shrubs and grasses are regenerating, and a total of 36 native plant species were recorded on the site.
Updated Rangeland Strategy for Jordan (2013/2014)
Jordanian Agriculture Law No. 13, 2015
The Updated Rangeland Strategy for Jordan (2013/2014) has a strong focus on participation, already realised during the design phase. It fosters involvement of local communities in land management, enhances their roles and responsibilities and empowers local governance mechanisms.
The strategy has been implemented and first results can be seen in promising pilot projects. However, the political situation in the region has put strong pressure on the government to focus budget on social, migration-related issues, since Jordan is host to some of the greatest numbers of refugees, with an estimated 2.7 million people.
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- The policy adopts a landscape approach in restoration, integrating issues of erosion control, groundwater and water harvesting, biodiversity, land tenure, investment and more.
- Local communities are seen as partners. This includes integrating traditional knowledge and sharing responsibilities in local resource management.
- Pastoralists, who benefit most from the policy, are mainly low-income communities.
- The strategy is evidence-based; it was updated to incorporate insights from fieldwork and studies.
- Multi-stakeholder consultations were held during the design phase. The government conducted many workshops, also involving locals, including pastoralists.
- Project sites and rehabilitation sites were visited.
- There is ongoing participation and consultation. The Strategy will be assessed after 5 years.
- The institutional approach itself has changed, now the government is considering natural resources in their interaction. This changes government planning and “day to day work”.
- With the Hima approach, local communities are encouraged to build their own institution to govern the land.
- Priorities and strategy are defined in Jordan’s National Action Plan 2015–2020 for UNCCD. This underlines the country’s international commitment to combat desertification.
- Experiences of the development of the Updated Rangeland Strategy are also reflected in the new agricultural law of 2015.
- The Strategy combines the traditional, holistic land management concept Hima with up-to-date technical knowledge on combating land degradation.
Rangelands are a defining ecosystem for Jordan and take up the vast majority of Jordan’s land area. At the same time, as Jordan is highly urbanised, the rangelands have a small population of around 185,000 people living in 170 communities, which is roughly 2.5% of Jordan’s population.
Overgrazing and inadequate cultivation patterns have led to a reduction of vegetation cover in Jordan’s rangelands, an increase in soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, the loss of rain water through runoff, a higher frequency of wind storms and a reduction in biodiversity.
Traditionally, Jordan’s Bedouins effectively governed their rangelands through traditional land tenure systems and grazing rights known as “Hima”. Nomadic Bedouins raised their livestock with no regard to political borders, which was also very beneficial to the land. The declaration of grazing lands as state-owned land in Jordan discouraged pastoralists and Bedouins to conserve their resources.
The five main goals of the Updated Rangeland Strategy are:
- Sustainable development and management of the rangelands;
- Improvement of social and economic conditions for livestock breeders and pastoral communities, while taking gender issues into consideration;
- Enhancement of capacity building through training and raising awareness;
- Monitoring and evaluation of rangeland status;
- Engagement of local communities in sustainable rangeland development and management.
The Rangeland Strategy of 2013 has updated the Strategy that dates from 2001. To update the strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture cooperated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in particular, its Regional Office for West Asia, and consulted with relevant stakeholders. A national workshop held in Amman in June 2013 resulted in the final version of the strategy.
The implementing ministry of the Updated Rangeland Strategy is Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), in particular, the Directorate of Rangelands and Badia Development. MOA involves local land-users through multi-stakeholder consultation and in implementation, whilst it involves research organisations in pilot and research projects.
The Strategy lists a range of programmes and projects, which are aligned to the goals. They include:
- Reverse rangeland deterioration through law enforcement and modification, formulate and ratify legislations for rangeland management;
- Improve vegetation cover quantitatively and qualitatively: rehabilitation of grazing reserves, regeneration of 5-10 species of extinct grazing plants in the target reserves, reduction of soil erosion;
- Empower pastoral communities, including women, for self-sustainable management of pastoral resources: Improve economic status of the pastoral community through rangeland development, through training courses;
- Improve rural beneficiaries’ income from rangeland reserves: use medicinal and aromatic plants to increase household income, activate the role of women, provide administrative staff to implement project activities, provide marketing channels, conduct awareness programs;
- Develop pastoral/grazing communities: Involve all institutions working with the local community, increase pastoral/grazing resources productivity, conduct demographic, social and economic studies on target areas, establish semi-automatic units for dairy processing;
- Participation of local community, including women, in pastoral resources management: Upscaling of the Hima system in Southern Jordan, management by the local community to ensure sustainable management of grazing in the region’s drylands taking into consideration gender issues, restoration of indigenous plants in the region, making use of unique local knowledge, rehabilitation of rangelands through community management, implementation of water harvesting techniques;
- Strengthen the beneficiary communities of the rangeland reserves: establishment of cooperatives, environmental awareness programmes, enhancement of participatory approach concept;
- Monitoring and assessment of rangeland condition and trends: enact a legislation to prevent encroachment on rangeland reserves, provide administrative staff to implement project activities, conduct awareness programmes, better assessment of rangeland status leading to improved decision making.
After one year of activities in the Bani Hashem community in central Jordan, biodiversity benefits have already been observed. Indigenous floral species are back, shrubs and grasses are regenerating. A total of 36 native plant species were recorded on the site, mainly in the area that receives the highest rainfall.
Furthermore, tribal conflicts over natural resources are reduced with the Hima system. The approach builds on the capacity of the local community and increases the involvement of different groups, including women. They play a major role in improving their livelihoods through securing their access and management rights and building relationships with government institutions.
However, nationwide results of the Updated Rangeland Strategy cannot be observed yet, since due to the political situation in the region, the government has dedicated the budget to security and social issues. The strategy serves as a roadmap. NGOs and government are using it as guidelines for their work.
The policy can be transferred and applied in other countries of the Middle East and in many regions worldwide with similar environmental conditions; it is already informing a regional rangeland restoration partnership with the League of Arab States and the government of Egypt.
Jordan’s Updated Rangeland Strategy
2014 @ IUCN Photo by Amer Al-Me’dat
After one year of activities in the Bani Hashem community in central Jordan, biodiversity benefits have already been observed. Indigenous floral species are back, shrubs and grasses are regenerating. A total of 36 native plant species were recorded in the site, mainly in the area that receives the highest rainfall.