Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Dibbin Debacle


Overlooking Dibbin by J




It is sad to realize that the debate over Dibbin forest rests on one simple fact: development vs. heritage. It is time this argument is taken to the next logical level; out of the hands of government where political dictates often obscure the reality, into the hands of an independent body with the power to overrule whatever political decisions hold sway over issues of national heritage. And this is because 'heritage', as in identity and state – belong to the people. Governments come and governments go, and we the people have to live with the results of short sighted vision or even corruption – a.k.a. the dam at Karameh, that destroyed a rural community that harvested salt for a living.

For too long our national heritage has been held hostage to the notions of economic development and it's easy to see why – that is the dynamics of the current state of Jordanian politics, one that has allowed for example, the handing over of Wadi Rum region and its nature reserve to ASEZA – a government within a government whose agenda is 'development' along the shores of Aqaba and now into the heartland of one of the world's most spectacular living desert landscapes. I fear the future for this special place.

Without an effective counterbalance to government sanctioned private development projects, will we be able to preserve what little heritage is left – our forests are a case in point. And it is only through transparent laws governing the heritage of the country that this can be achieved. At the moment, there are too many loop holes for people with investment and market returns to leap through … so who cares about such trivial things as a few trees, old buildings, open spaces or rural life.

It is becoming clear that only an independent body such as a National Heritage Trust with legal and political clout can oversee the work of government when it threatens our national heritage. Dibbin is that issue. The government has too many vested interests to have the courage to confront big business. It is a fallacy to believe that private development projects will bring benefits to the rural poor. The only thing they will do is keep them poor and dependent with the main profits going to the investment company. Rural communities need to be given the resources to develop from within and from the roots up - is that not the role of government to provide? - so that a national heritage, in the form of rural living in harmony with the environment, is preserved and development integrated into the needs of a community – one of their own making; not imposed from above with more 5 star hotels that only serve tourists.

With a National Trust made up of individuals (not government officials) with a proven track record, can our heritage be preserved for future generations. We already have such bodies as the Petra National Trust, and the RSCN – but their effectiveness to challenge government policies is limited by lack of legal authority. What success has been achieved in the past has been through the sheer determination and social activism of committed individuals. These people whose sole interest is to preserve our collective national heritage now need a helping hand to combat the insidious and very threatening nature of 'private' development.

If you had a choice what would you want to leave your grandchildren, beautiful natural forests in a semi arid desert landscape that make up only 1% of land use, or hotels that pollute and use excessive amounts of natural resources to keep the tourists (and investors) happy … whatever happened to responsible development …? J

PS -As I was writing up the above, z was posting the below cartoon - thanks z, sums it up perfectly!

1 Comments:

Blogger joladies said...

Nothing like a fellow blogger patting both you and z on the back! Brilliant ideas about what is wrong and how to fix it! Maybe a National Trust would be too weak. We need some agency that is more powerful than any government ministry - a Department of Parks (and recreation) whose mandate is to PROTECT all areas designated as National Parks or heritage sites. They have the last word, not the Ministry of Agriculture, or the SSC. ASH

Sunday, February 18, 2007  

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