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The Royal Scientific Society’s Impact on Wetlands

The Royal Scientific Society’s Impact on Wetlands

Our El Hassan Research Chair in Sustainability, in tandem with the Biosafety and Biosecurity Centre and Science for Society department, stands united in a collective endeavor to forge a lasting impact on wetland reserves in Jordan and the wider MENA region. Recognizing the critical importance of these delicate ecosystems, our collaborative efforts transcend geographical boundaries. From revitalizing oases facing environmental crises to studying migratory bird patterns in the Azraq Wetland Reserve, our mission is to safeguard not only the biodiversity but also the cultural richness of these regions.

In a world grappling with climate change, these initiatives underscore the urgency of creating sustainable solutions and nurturing resilient communities for the preservation of our shared natural heritage. World Wetlands Day reminds us of the global movement towards wetland conservation, highlighting the crucial role these ecosystems play in maintaining biodiversity, supporting climate adaptation and mitigation, and ensuring water security. As we join the world in commemorating this significant day, we reiterate our commitment to the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands across the Jordan and the broader MENA region, aligning our efforts with international objectives to protect these vital ecosystems for future generations.


El Hassan bin Talal Research Chair in Sustainability

Professor Iain Stewart, El Hassan Research Chair for Sustainability, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, tells a tale of two desert oases, Al Azraq in Jordan and Layla in Saudi Arabia.

The Azraq and Layla oases, once lush and vibrant hubs of biodiversity and cultural richness in Jordan’s north eastern Badia region, are now stark examples of the environmental and cultural crises gripping the MENA region, facing extreme drought in the past years. Click here to read the article in The Geographer magazine:

As part of an RSS and British Academy project titled, “Restorifiying Azraq”, Prof Iain is also working with a UK-Jordan team of earth and climate scientists to empower a diverse group of communities on the frontline of dramatic environmental and climate change to map their local natural surroundings and capture and cultivate stories of their disappearing cultural heritage.


Science for Society Centre develops a report on Oasis ecosystem conversation

The MENA region is characterized by its dry climate, coupled with a lack of freshwater resources and high temperatures. This makes the region vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change such as droughts, floods, and desertification.

The West Asia North Africa (WANA) Office at the Royal Scientific Society developed a report on Oasis ecosystem conversation, titled: “Conservation of Oasis Ecosystems in the MENA Region under Water Stress”. The report explores the challenges faced by oasis ecosystems in the MENA region due to climate change and unsustainable practices, and provides different recommendations that aim to support the ecosystem conservation from policy, technical, social, and economic aspects.

Read more about it here:


RSS researchers at the Bio-Safety and Bio-Security Centre conducted a research project in a Natural Wetland Area of Jordan, Azraq Wetland Reserve

In the midst of Jordan’s eastern desert, the Azraq Wetland Reserve offers a crucial layover for migratory birds flying from Europe across the Middle East to Africa, providing them with a place to rest and refuel for their continued journey. The Azraq Wetland Reserve, featuring six lagoons and a remarkable landscape, attracts thousands of both resident and migratory birds during the spring and fall migration seasons. Over 400 species of migratory birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, and land birds, have been recorded in the wetland.

Researchers from the Royal Scientific Society, as part of an international collaboration, have launched a research project focused on the transboundary determinants of avian zoonotic infectious diseases in migratory birds. The RSS Bio-Safety and Bio-Security Centre has chosen Azraq as the primary site for capturing migratory birds and collecting non-lethal samples to analyze for avian zoonotic diseases, such as Influenza.

Efforts have also been made to build capacity for the sustainable monitoring of migratory birds and disease surveillance in Jordan, through:

– Developing the capability to capture birds in Jordan, a country previously without long-term monitoring, necessitating perseverance and adaptability to local habitat conditions.

– Facilitating knowledge exchange with countries newly establishing wild bird monitoring and pathogen surveillance, crucial for building a multidisciplinary team from diverse biological backgrounds.

– Emphasizing the importance of learning new techniques and gaining research experience in a new field, fostering team growth and strengthening the avian disease monitoring program.

RSS extends its gratitude to the Azraq Wetland Reserve team (Royal Society for Conservation of Nature) for their dedicated efforts to conserve this invaluable and magnificent site.