Recommendation from a trip in 1997
Report on trip to Jordan, Egypt, and Israel/Palestine to Promote HLCF activities December 27th, 1996 to January 17, 1997
The trip was funded by Ain Shams University and by personal funds and included giving invited seminars in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine (no HLCF funds were utilized). However, about half my time in this trip was spent in activities related to HLCF and the goals were:
1) Enlist support for HLCF (collect addresses of interested parties).
2) Assess immediate and long term needs in environmental conservation.
3) Promote the book: “Mammals of the Holy Land”
3) Set-up new and foster existing collaborative research efforts.
I am pleased to report that my trip was very successful. The following is a brief summary of these accomplishments.
The first six days in the Middle East were spent in Jordan. I met with numerous interested environmentalists and added several to the list of supporters. Mr. Adnan Budeira, the Scientific director at the RSCN will also lead an effort to set-up HLCF as a non profit organization in Jordan. I also initiated three new research efforts with collaborators in Jordan. The economy in Jordan is well although a large gap exists between rich and poor. The assistant professor’s salary at Jordanian University ranges from $800-1000/mo. and a laboratory technician makes $200-300/mo. At $1000 per month, one could live in dignity but cannot afford much fun. I gave a seminar at Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Amman, Jordan, Dec. 28th. on “Mammals of the Jordan: Conservation, taxonomy, and biology.” I received letters of Support from the President of the RSCN and Darwish Shafi of the Jordan Museum of Natural History.
On January 3rd, I traveled to the Israel/Palestine. Contacts were initiated with environmentalists and geneticists. A local board for the HLCF was established and includes such prominent figures such as Dr. Sari Nussaibeh (President of Al-Quds University), Jacob Qumsieh (Chair of Lutheran Schools), Imad Atrash (Children for the Protection of Nature), and Prof. Yoram Yom-Tov (Dept. Zool., Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv). Additional contacts included Dr. Tal and Franckenberg from the Nature Reserve Authority in Jerusalem. I gave a seminar on “Mammals of the Holy Land: Conservation issues.” Applied Research Institute, Bethlehem, Jan 4th.
In Egypt, I met with Dr. Abdel - Azim M. El - Hammady, Vice Dean of the Institute of Environmental Studies & Research at Ain Shams University and numerous individuals in the Department of Environment at the Ministry of Agriculture. Egypt was very crowded (12-15 million people in Cairo) and there are big economic and social discrepancies but there seems to be genuine governmental efforts in conservation issues.
Based on my numerous meetings, I recommend the following with regard to HLCF.
1) Once local boards are set-up in Jordan and Palestine, our group should request a list of board members and their CVs as well as a list of priorities and goals agreed upon by these boards.
2) The fledgling autonomous “Palestinian” entity would be a very promising site for initiating new environmental projects. This is because of the high level of education in the population, ease of avoiding corruption, more “bang for the buck” because of growing nature of this entity and the presence of much good will among the locals and outside donors.
3) Education at the level of elementary schools is very promising and perhaps should be a priority. A good success story is the group called “Children for the Protection of Nature.” I think more people need to be involved (volunteers), more training of school teachers, and more access to resources.
4) Along these lines, a simple scheme of initial action would be to fund publications of brochures and posters, workshops for teachers, and an environmental education center.
5) In the long term, we should act as a resource to nudge and help fledgling governmental efforts at environmental conservation. This is especially true in the case of the Palestinian Authority because as they acquire more land and political and economic independence, it is essential that they are prompted to pay attention to environmental issues.