Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Chairman of the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute, the Hashemite Fund participated in the Second Regional Hima Forum. The aim of the Forum was to shed light on the importance of pastoral protection and management to conserve Jordan’s biodiversity. Al-Hima is a traditional system of resource tenure that has been practiced for more than 1,400 years by tribal populations in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Hima means “protected place”, and the system depends on sustainable land use patterns that assure long-term survival in the face of scarce resources, particularly water.
Her Highness Sharifa Zein Al Sharaf bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Hashemite Fund, was a keynote speaker during the event. Her Highness spoke about the value of traditional knowledge and the importance of investing to preserve Jordan’s cultural heritage in sustainable development. Her Highness also discussed the challenges of rehabilitating rangeland given the challenges presented by the existence of illegal quarries in the Badia area, which the local communities noted had exploited and destroyed the natural resources of the rangelands for profit without delivering any form of rehabilitation. Her Highness recommends that actions should be taken to organize and license these quarries in the Badia.
Her Highness announced the need to focus on supporting nomadic herders and implementing more sustainable practices through spreading awareness among youth and children, women and elders across the Badia. The Hashemite Fund has launched a project in partnership with schools through Jordan, where students’ and teachers’ environmental and rangeland management knowledge will be developed. Also, a virtual range school has been established by the Fund to promote education around the Al-Hima system, and is the “first of its kind in Jordan”. It has used a “simple and scientific curriculum” to enable graduates to become “pioneers” in their communities in managing rangelands in the Badia, using a combination of traditional and scientific knowledge in rangeland management. Eight pioneers graduated from the school at the end of 2014. The school targets all members of the Badia, including women and young people, to create a generation aware of its natural resources that must be preserved and developed sustainably to benefit future generations.
During the Hima Forum there was a launching for the Arabian Pastoralist Communities Network (APCN), which aims to document, revive, share and develop local knowledge to create tools for rangeland rehabilitation and conservation in the Arab region. Currently, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon are members of the network, which is looking forward to welcoming further members. It is noteworthy that in 2014 His Royal Highness Prince El Hussan bin Talal endorsed the Amman Declaration on Innovating Hima. The Forum was run by the WANA Institute in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in collaboration with the European Union, Oxfam International, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Swiss Agency for International Development and Cooperation, and the United Nations Environment Program’s Division of Global Environmental Facility (GEF).