Oman- Four years ago, architect Dima Assaf has been seeking to restore the forests of forest trees to the capital Amman and Jordanian cities, after those forests were removed and replaced with deaf concrete buildings, devoid of beautiful diverse environmental life, far from the chirping of birds and the melodies of birds.
Dima started her project to create authentic urban forests within cities and between residential neighborhoods in 2018, with the aim of improving the environment, protecting nature, reducing noise, and alleviating environmental pollution in cities, especially the pollution of the air we breathe as a result of car exhaust, factory fumes, and others.
In her project, architect Dima Assaf adopted the Accelerated Vegetation Recovery Methodology, a methodology known as the Miyawaki Methodology after the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who developed and applied it for more than 50 years.
Assaf named her project “Studio Tayoun”, and she says – to Al Jazeera Net – that she cooperated with the “Midoriization of Nochi Motoharu” project, the first pilot project in Jordan in 2018, which is a small forest that does not exceed an area of 107 square meters located on private property west of Amman, and it is the first Miyawaki Forest in Jordan and the Arab world.
According to Assaf, the idea of the project is based on exploiting small spaces between residential buildings and planting them with various forest trees, in addition to investing in empty spaces in public parks, roadsides and central islands, within the “Civilized Lungs” project.
Seeds and seedlings
Dima Assaf graduated in 2007 with a major in architecture, and worked in the same field for 10 years, during which she participated in projects to restore heritage buildings and environmentally friendly architectural designs, then devote herself to her own project.
She received specialized courses in sustainable agriculture and forestry, and volunteers cooperate with her in collecting plant seeds from forests and multiplying them in specialized agricultural nurseries, who believed in the idea of the project.
The project focuses on the propagation of indigenous forest trees that have existed in Jordan hundreds or thousands of years ago – according to Dima Assaf – such as oak trees and mallow, which is the national tree of Jordan, trees of Atlantic and Palestinian paw, wild pear, arbuts, hawthorn, acacia, heglig and others.
Assaf and her Japanese colleague Motoharu organize workshops for volunteers to collect, sort and clean seeds, in preparation for planting, transplanting and multiplying them.
Assaf named her project “Studio Tayoun”, after the Tayun plant, which is considered one of the pioneering plants, and one of the first plants that nature uses to change barren lands into rich ecosystems, or what is known as “the beginning of ecological succession”.
Despite the small geographical area of Jordan, it enjoys 4 different ecosystems, which allows for a large biodiversity in a small area, especially since the forests preserve the topsoil, bring rain and enhance groundwater storage.
A project was implemented in private ownership, and two projects in public spaces belonging to the Amman Municipality in the Jordanian capital.
The first forest project was established in 2018 as a small forest on a plot of land with an area of 107 meters, a house garden in which 380 trees of 23 types of indigenous forest trees were planted, and it celebrates at the end of November its third year.
There are projects that have been implemented in cooperation with the Amman Municipality and the Ministry of Environment, east of the capital, Amman, in public parks of different sizes.
Ahmed Abu Ghazaleh believed in the idea of the project and presented an area of his home garden, west of the capital, Amman, to establish an authentic woodland forest, in a small area, but it has become a diverse forest with indigenous forest trees in Jordan.
Abu Ghazaleh told Al Jazeera Net that forest trees “purify the air of cities, which is exposed to pollution as a result of car exhaust, so the important role of trees comes to purifying and cleaning the air.”
Forest trees are distinguished from plants, flowers and fruit trees in that their need for water is low, and they do not need to be sprayed with chemical pesticides and the use of fertilizers.
Abu-Ghazaleh says, “We travel to sit in the lap of nature and among the forests… While through this project, the forests are now in each of our homes that we can enjoy at all times, and are safe for children to play and roam in.”
oak and maple
Aboud Jardaneh, owner of the Al-Tuneeb nursery, south of the Jordanian capital, Amman, says that the seeds and seedlings of forest trees are crowding out annual flowers and fruit trees, as thousands of seeds have been planted from forest trees, especially those threatened with extinction.
He adds to Al Jazeera Net, “We are planting the seeds of all kinds of perennial oak family trees, maple, terebinth and others, and they have become demanded by the nursery pioneers, even some seedlings are planted in special agricultural basins on the balconies of apartments.”
The residential buildings have changed the face of the capital Amman – says Jardaneh – and unfortunately the forest trees are removed for housing, and the original forest trees are replaced with imported trees that are alien to the Jordanian environment.