Ecotourism – from conflict to collaboration

Back in the 1980ies, critical ambassadors for nature started to think about the role tourism has to play for nature conservation. Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, one of the great heroes of that movement, coined the term ‘ecotourism’ in 1983 – 20 years ago!

We are proud that at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark we strive to apply the ideas of real ‘ecotourism’. We managed to go from conflict when the park idea was first communicated, to collaboration with the local people and Bedouin shepherds who are now respecting and protecting the ecopark. What a success!

But what does ecotourism really mean?
Probably due to the syllabus “eco”, many people think that ecotourism means only spending leisure time in nature. Ecology is a renowned concept which businesses, governments, and individuals try to apply. The pre-syllabus “eco”, however, means more than ecology:
it is derived from the ancient Greek word “oikos” which means “house” or “home”. So ecotourism means that tourism is used to sustain that “home”, in that case a protected area and the local settings of it.

In the Jordanian culture, the “house” and home are the most important places for people. It is inspiring to see how much effort families are putting into keeping their homes neat and nice. But where does “home” end? On the street in front of your house? Or when leaving the village? Home in today´s times means actually the entire planet: Our planet is our home, and by religious and societal settings we ought to protect it. So, the idea of “eco” in eco-tourism needs to be viewed from a global perspective. Tourism has to play an active role to protect the planet, to protect nature and biodiversity, as well as help people in ecotourism destinations to earn their livelihoods with it. Both, tourists and hosts have to protect the environment, just as they do protect their homes and families.

Think about the idea we follow at the ecopark:  We look after nature as our “home” and use the income generated by our visitors to maintain the protected area as a safe place, and offer facilities that make your stay comfortable and a great nature experience.
For us, doe you, for Jordan’s wildlife. Ecotourism is about linking Tourism and Conservation. And particularly in protected areas, such as the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh ecopark, eco-tourists can make a difference and contribute to conservation.

But eco-tourism goes beyond that! It also wants people to travel in a responsible way, that means, to be interested and take part in the local culture, local customs, architecture, livelihoods, cuisine and resilience of neglected communities.

At the ecopark, we want to live this vision of eco-tourism. We are connected to the surrounding villages and employ local people. They know best what is needed and what is feasible! And they help us protect the park from invading goat herds and other threats.

Working in that way requires a lot of commitment and energy. And we know we can only succeed when our visitors, local, national and international ones, are supporting us.

We call everybody to take care of the park and respect its rules. Our aim is to keep the ecopark as a beautiful site where animals, wild plants and men live together in harmony.

Sharhabil Bin Hassneh ecopark is a unique site where you can experience the value of nature conservation and the inclusion of the local population. Since its beginning, we worked hard to gain the support of locals and together made the ecopark a reality.

Today, we encourage tourism businesses to join us in our conservation and environmental education efforts and include the ecopark in their programs. Only then can we succeed in protecting the ecopark as a ecotourism site.

Only with our joint support can we protect Jordan´s biodiversity. We want to raise awareness of our visitors and encourage them to support the ecopark financially through their stay, when purchasing the services and products, helping us with word-of-mouth promotion and share their ideas with us!

And if you are up for a volunteering-experience at the ecopark, contact us with your ideas and time availability.

We are looking forward to your visit!

Favorite Family destination…

Take a deep breath and look around! Listen to nature, enjoy the silence, and relax!

Nature at Sharhabil bin Hassneh Ecopark is gaining back it’s beauty: all the plants that suffered from the long dry summer now regain their power and wake up as the first clouds of this rainy season pass the Ecopark pouring water onto the arid lands.

At the Jordan Ecopark, a site founded and developed by Friends of the Earth, you can find the perfect spot to spend a full weekend filled with pure nature experience. And enjoy the only tree-covered shaded camping area in Jordan! The ecopark certainly is a unique location, “a real gem in Jordan” as one of its friends recently noted!

For families with kids there is nothing else like it: a safe camping area with amenities close by, all needed facilities, and more if you like. Residents from surrounding villages offer their hospitality, and prepare great local food, either vegetarian or with some meats. Local guides take you on to a variety of guided tours. For children, the ecopark offers an outstanding nature experience: They can collect all sorts of seeds, little branches, woods, leaves, stones, and play in a true natural ambiance. Far from any traffic noise – only the bird songs will inspire them!

The park is set in a beautiful environment on the food of the large Ziglab dam, one of Jordan’s precious water lakes. From the dam you will have a most stunning view into the Jordan Valley. For those who can swim, the lake is a great location, too! Around the dam are stunning paths leading you even deeper into the protected site where no goats are grazing down vegetation any more. Thanks to the good relationship with local Bedouine families, the park area is protected and nature can flourish.
Books display the biodiversity in the area, and you can watch out for many birds.

For those who like longer hikes, some of the Abraham Paths trails end at SHE Ecopark, either from Pella or from Um Quais, and you can take a rest here or stay overnight.  Or rent one of the Ecopark mountain bikes and hop on it for a more adventurous tour exploring various trails up and down the hills.

Let SHE Ecopark become your favorite family destination in Jordan!

We are looking forward to welcome you!

World Tourism Day

SHEparkJordan:

As worldwide tourism has approached the one billion mark of international arrivals, the tourism sector has a major responsibility to protect the resources as it is depending on them and “selling” them.
Water continues to be a growing concern. At the SHE ecopark, we are aware of water scarcity in Jordan and offer our facilities to train young residents of the Jordan Valley toward a more sustainable use, management and protection of water.

Originally posted on EcoPeace - Friends of the Earth Middle East:

header3Endowed with a rich history where by civilizations intersected, cultures met, and history was formed magnificently with traces still standing majestically in every corner is the case of Jordan. Located at the heart of the Middle East, Jordan presents an important travelling destination to tourists from across the globe.  For this reason, the government initiated multiple tourist projects and is currently relying on tourism as a major source of income. Nonetheless, the increasing number of tourist facilities and the constant influx of tourists stress the precious, scarce water resources. 

View original 261 more words

Welcome to SHE!

Friends of the Earth Middle East, an environmental organization that created the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in 2004 with a land grant from the Jordan Valley Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture. Originally a highly degraded piece of land, with the help of dedicated volunteers the park now has lush vegetation, and native birds and plants have returned to the area.

Welcome!The EcoPark is not only a sanctuary for nature, but also has accommodations for groups and travelers. Cabins and campsites are both available to rent, and you can find out more about our facilities on the accommodation page.  It is a unique experience, far from crowded tourist centers that is both authentic and unforgettable.

SHE park is always changing: it grows and thrives, and as it does, the options for activities  keep growing.  Help support this important project and enjoy the natural beauty of Jordan.

See how the park was created by dedicated volunteers.  This video was produced by FoEME:

Welcome to SHE!