POSTED ORIGINALLY IN JORDANTIMES ON JUNE 16TH 2011

 I am proud to be an activist in the campaign against building the military academy on Bergesh forestlands.

For several months, we have been campaigning through social media, protests and letters to MPs, NGOs and even to the UN, to relocate the academy to a different place. Unfortunately, we are being accused of being against the army, against the development of this area, of having personal agendas, so I feel it is important to clearly explain what we are opposing and why.

We are not against building the military academy and we don’t aim to relocate it outside the Bergesh area. We simply oppose building the academy on Bergesh forestlands. Our opposition stems from environmental and legal concerns.

Jordan has less than 1 per cent of forest areas, so in principle, we are against cutting trees and destroying forests because of the negative impact such acts have on the environment.

The original plan of the academy was to cut around 2,200 trees from the forest; the number was reduced to 300. Some of these trees are over 500 years old, and around 14 per cent are rare in different places. We believe that cutting even a single tree is not acceptable. We aim to increase the green area in our beloved country, not to reduce it.

The second reason is legal. The Jordanian Law for Agriculture of the year 2002, Article 28, clearly states that it is not allowed to sell such lands for any reason and it is not allowed to change the use of such lands. Article 35b of the same law states that it is not allowed to cut such trees.

It is difficult to understand why these two articles are being violated. It is clear that selling Bergesh Forest lands, as well as cutting even one single tree, is totally illegal.

Environment experts said this project would have a negative impact on the environment. Legal experts also said that the project constitutes clear violations to the law.

Some articles in some daily newspapers contained false accusations and are not based on scientific or legal background. We hope that any future discussion on or even criticism of our campaign is based on legal and environmental aspects.

Wasseem Al Kury,
Amman
16 June 2011
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