Wild Jordan Encourages Sustainable Travel For Nature and People

Wild Jordan encourages sustainable travel to support the social and  economic development of rural communities. Also, by helping start and sustain local nature-based businesses, Wild Jordan encourages eco-tourism for the sake of bio-diversity.

Wild Jordan is part of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), and is responsible for the socio-economic projects (such as eco-tourism). Through the expansion of sustainable travel companies and handicraft enterprises, hundreds of jobs have been created by Wild Jordan. These projects help local communities develop healthy economies based on eco-friendly practices. New jobs in eco-tourism, for example, prevent locals from turning to hunting and overgrazing for income, two practices that damage wildlife areas.

According to Wild Jordan, eco-tourism will help the Jordanian populations see the value of nature conservation, thanks to the visible social and economic benefits brought by sustainable travel to the area. Thus far, Wild Jordan has created eco-tourism programs in the four, diverse areas: Ajloun, Azraq, Dana and Mujib. Aljoun is a forest reserve with a cabin, a tented lodge and hiking trails. The Azraq Wetland Reserve is in the Eastern Desert, and has a unique lodge inside a renovated British Field Hospital from the 1940's. The area is well-known as an oasis for migrating birds. The Dana Biosphere Reserve includes an eco-lodge, a campsite, and many hiking trails. The Mujib Reserve runs along the coast of the Dead Sea. A trail allows hikers to walk beside palm trees, through deep red sandstone gorges (in the feature photograph), and even go down high waterfalls with the help of a rope.

Thanks in part to the success of these programs, the private sector has begun to develop sustainable travel companies as well. For example, Wadi Rum, or "The Valley of the Moon", has become an important tourism destination and improved the financial situation of the Bedouin people. Furthermore, the RSCN claims that these same eco-friendly policies are being adopted by the government, and resource protection is now a mainstream concern in Jordan.

Wild Jordan gives each protected area a "zoning plan". The zones can be "wilderness" or "core", meaning that no construction or public access is permitted. Or, a zone can be a "semi-intensive use" zone, meaning that hikers and small scale facilities are allowed. The third zone is called and "intensive-use zones", and though more buildings are allowed, development is still controlled.  Protected areas often have a daily limit of visitors. Other environmentally friendly features include green building materials and solar hot water systems. Wild Jordan humbly states that they "still have a long way to go" in terms of waste and energy management.

Still, Wild Jordan has certainly made remarkable progress regarding eco-tourism in Jordan. The company won the Guardian's "Ethical Travel" award yesterday.

Photo credit: YousefTOmar