Many underutilized species are particularly beneficial as food and medicine,
especially in marginal areas such as Jordan, where they have been selected to
withstand stress conditions and contribute to sustainable production with
low-cost inputs. Unfortunately, these species have been neglected by researchers
in the past and, consequently, the information available regarding their
agronomy, yield improvement potential and quality is insufficient. We should
recognize the vital role to be played by a diversity of wild, semi-domesticated
and underdeveloped species in food and livelihood security and the
potential of such species for further development and wider use. The main objectives of this study are to identify gaps in existing policy and legislation and suggest appropriate options to facilitate the sustainable use of Jordan’s underutilized plant species through introducing and testing in-situ and on-farm mechanisms and techniques to ensure their conservation and sustainable use.
Jordan has formulated several measures aimed at protecting, assessing, utilizing and benefiting from the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in plant genetic resources, including a number of significant measures to prevent pollution and habitat damage and to protect wildlife. These efforts in biodiversity and genetic resource conservation are divided between various sectors and institutions. A priority need will be that of developing national knowledge management capacity for biodiversity and upgrading laws and legislation related to improving the enabling environment for underutilized species conservation and use.
The major difficulties in assessing the importance of underutilized species and developing a strategy for their conservation and sustainable use are insufficient knowledge concerning their use and distribution, how they are collected or harvested, and the species under cultivation (by location). The current institutional structure and policies do not provide the opportunity for traditional exchange of genetic resources. Moreover, farmers’ opinions are not taken into consideration when drawing up biodiversity or plant genetic resource policies.
This study is intended as a useful tool for policy makers, and local community institutions and researchers to advocate for modifications in national legislation and policy aimed at facilitating the sustainable use of underutilized plant species for the improvement of local community livelihoods, combating desertification, and sharing the benefits of biodiversity as well as other sustainable development principles.
In order to achieve these objectives, several steps were taken, including the identification of the problem and the objectives of the research, and reviewing and analyzing Jordan’s current policies and legislation related to biodiversity conservation and utilization. The outcome of the review process has resulted in the identification of gaps in current
legislation and policies, and the putting together of recommendations to obviate these gaps.
The analysis indicated a need for additional effort to effectively implement existing legislation/regulations as well as to adopt new regulations and policy directed at the conservation and sustainable use of indigenous plant genetic resources, including underutilized species.
There is also a need to enhance collaboration and cooperation among government institutions, the private sector, NGOs, and local community institutions regarding the long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity. Information dissemination and management systems should be developed to support decision-making and legislative development.
The survey concluded that conservation and sustainable utilization can be achieved through the development of appropriate legislation and laws to improve local community participation in decision-making, regulating access and utilization of rangelands, increasing research and extension, regulating access to credit and the distribution of incentives in a fair and equitable manner and guaranteeing local community property rights. In addition, information and dissemination systems, and cooperation and coordination mechanisms should be established among national institutions.
The study has provided a clearer vision and recommendations to researchers and policy makers with regard to underutilized species and the importance of exploiting the potential of same in the future.