Our stunning EcoPark was established as a model for preserving ecologically important habitats within the Jordan Valley. It provides an incredible opportunity for communities in the Jordan Valley to come together in a manner that respects the natural environment and cultural heritage of the area, and serves to increase public awareness about sustainable development efforts in the Jordan Valley basin.
The EcoPark project is embedded in EcoPeace’s larger program of rehabilitating the Jordan River Valley. Part of rehabilitating the Jordan River is ensuring that the Lower Jordan River is no longer treated as a backyard dumping ground by tourists and residents.
The EcoPark was voted in the “TOP 100 GREEN DESTINATIONS” in both 2016 and 2017! The award celebrates the efforts of tourism destinations to maintain responsible and sustainable tourism initiatives.
Background, development and present aims of the EcoPark
In the early 2000s, after mapping the area and identifying environmental threats, we were given 11 hectares (110 donums) of land by the Jordan Valley Authority, which includes the Ziqlab Dam. Since then, the EcoPark, officially founded in 2004 as a pilot project, has undergone an extraordinary transformation, from a dusty plot of land in the hills of north-western Jordan, to a tree-filled, ecologically diverse habitat covering 216 donums of land.
The goals of the EcoPark are ambitious and varied, including: protecting the Jordan River Valley and its natural habitat, increasing knowledge and interest in the environment (locally, regionally and nationally), creating healthier living options, especially for the local community, and improving visitors’ spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing.
The EcoPark provides visitors and residents of the Jordan Valley access to the unique local ecosystem, biodiversity and native species of the region, while simultaneously addressing the environmental implications of development. The numbers of visitors are continually growing, reaching over 20,000 a year. With the development of ecotourism, and more groups coming to learn about the nature and environment, the local communities benefit from the EcoPark by selling services and goods, such as locally grown and made products like honey, pomegranates and olives. This synergy exemplifies sustainable business practices, which celebrate the rewards of continuous giving instead of just profit gain.
In keeping with the values of the Park, and for training purposes, the EcoPark utilises eco-facilities such as wooden eco-cabins, kitchens and toilets housed in recycled containers, grey water systems and water treatment. The outside areas are equipped with additional “learning stations”, each addressing aspects of the environment – water treatment and hygiene, wetland conservation, organic farming, composting and green buildings. These ecotourism facilities train and equip local residents to provide tourism services, generating job opportunities in the community and enhancing the financial sustainability of the EcoPark.
Using the EcoPark to conduct activities for participants of our education programs from Jordan, Palestine and Israel is a powerful way to introduce concepts of cooperation and peacebuilding. During our programs, participants enjoy activities as varied as workshops and activities such as hikes, bike and zip-line tours, camp fires and Bedouin lunches.