A nature reserve located in the north-west of Jordan
It is situated just south of the Roman site of Jerash and covers an area of 8.5 square kilometres (3.3 sq mi) of rolling hills covered with pine–oak habitat. The area was protected as a nature reserve in 2004 under the initiative of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.
The rock within the reserve is a mixture of limestone and chalky limestone, which has been formed into steep slopes. The average rainfall is 710 millimetres (28 in) per year. Within the forest there is a variety of moisture conditions, with wadis giving different regimes from those found on the steep slopes.
The forest reserve contains one of the last remaining examples of a pine–oak forest in the Middle East.
The species of the reserve’s trees vary with elevation; Aleppo Pines inhabit the lower altitudes, the mixed pine–oak woodland (comprising Aleppo Pine and Palestine Oak) grows in the middle, and a species of small deciduous oak – Quercus infectoria (the Aleppo, or Cyprus, Oak) – grows at the higher altitudes. Other flora in the habitat include orchids, Greek strawberry trees, pistachio, and olive trees.
The forest’s age structure shows wide variation, with many areas containing mature forest trees and a vigorous understory.
At least 17 endangered species have been identified within the reserve. These include the Persian red squirrel, four bat types, grey wolves and striped hyenas. Woodland birds also live in the forest.
Dibeen Forest Reserve was established in 2004 after being listed as a conservation priority in the 1998 protected areas review. Of the 60 square kilometers comprising the Dibeen Forest, 8.5 km2 area became part of the protected area.
Between 2004 and 2007, UNDP led a project in the Dibeen Forest, Jerash, Al Meirad and Burma municipalities of the region to support the establishment of the nature reserve. This helped to conserve the unique local biodiversity and encouraged the local communities to make sustainable alternative uses of the available resources. As a result, there was increased awareness of the local capacity-building and need for the conservation-oriented land use planning in the region.
Despite the apparent efforts to protect this remarkable and unique forest, it is gradually and systematically being destroyed by the establishment of modern cement projects, intentional fires, over grazing and illegal sporadic logging. Even when illegal loggers are apprehended, the punishment is usually lenient and not severe enough to deter others. Some of the farm owners around the forest gradually and illegally increase their farms to encompass areas of the forest that eventually and intentionally become devoid of their natural wild trees only to be replaced by olive trees for the sole reason of benefiting the aggressors. It is interesting to note that even in the midst of the small protected area, one can see small patches of olive farms which is very unfortunate because such areas have a grievous affect on the beauty, serenity, and solitude of the site. Dibeen, the surrounding beautiful natural pine forests, and the wild life that occupy the area are gradually diminishing and a strong immediate and faithful action by the people, the government and nature protection agencies has to be undertaken to stop the imminent destruction of the last extension of natural pine forests in the southern hemisphere.