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Zumot (Re)Forestation Project
Zumot (Re)Forestation Project
Last updated:
Samah Sirhan, Mafraq Governorate, JO
Climate zone:

Anselm Ibing Bron(wyn) Elliott Carly Gillham Christian Douglas Crystelle Saleh Damian Lester Dan Smith Darlene Cavallara Del Benson Gaina Dunsire Hubert de Kalbermatten João Gonçalves Kathryn Weber Khadijah Lacina Lauren Salathiel Lilian Ricaud Mujahid  Abdallah Neal Spackman Nicholas Holmes Nicole Caran Noa Ericson Paul Tan Ryno le Grange Salah Hammad Sami email500@gmx.com Sarvesvara Dasa Shariyf Abdul Qabid Smilyan Pavlov Sven Horner Verity Bachmann ziad azar
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Zumot (Re)Forestation Project

Project Type

Rural, Demonstration

Project Summary

How to grow a forest in the desert with less than 150ml of rain a year? With little experience, but high motivation, three young permies set off to plant a 2.5 hectare forest in the desert on the Jordan/Syria border - with the help of dozens of volunteers.

Project Description

Having just completed our PDC in Jordan toward the end of 2010, Jo Blin, Dan Smith and me decided we wanted to apply some of what we had learned and followed the first of rule of applying Permaculture: "Learn on other people's land before you design your own."   :)

We were very lucky to meet Omar Zumot, a visionary in the Jordanian agricultural field, who decided to give us some of his land to do an experiment. He has over 600 hectares of vineyards, on which he grows a large variety of grapes completely organically (certified, now aiming for bio-dynamic) to produce award-winning wines. While not quite permaculture, he has carp in his irrigation ponds, pigeon towers dotted in the landscape, grows wild herbs in between his rows of grapes and has managed to settle a few buzzards around the vineyard. On top of that - and this is where we come in - he decided to grow forests with indigenous, draught-resistant pioneer trees around the edges of his land. He had already started doing so on a small, sloped piece of land, but rather randomly without any water-catchment or -harvesting, additional organic matter or mulch - simply irrigated.

So we set out with the idea to plant an area of 2.5 hectares (25 donums - the local units) with indigenous desert plants, both fruit and leguminous. Our plan included a series of swales along contour, to catch the scarce winter rain and to then be planted with fruit trees, long-term and medium-term legumes (trees & bushes) and leguminous and other ground-cover. We also incorporated some wind-break lines (cypress & pines) and a few date palms as an experiment. For all trees, we tried to find either the indigenous variety, or varieties that were flourishing in the country now. With support from the Ministry of Agriculture's Forestry Department we managed to secure a few thousand free trees of various varieties, which we supplemented with rarer, more specific varieties - I'll post a list of species at a later stage.

We planted above, inside and on the berm of the swales with the help of a few dozen volunteers over the course of four weekends. When the first rains came (mid-January, which is VERY late for Jordan), we caught HUUUUGE quantities of rain, but soon discovered a fatal mistake - nobody had told us that you can't measure out 800m of swales using an A-frame...  !!

Haha, apparently it's common knowledge - well, we didn't know - so our swales turned out to have some considerable dips in them, which obviously caused them to break in places, due to large water quantities - causing several hilarious rescue missions, mostly by myself, madly shoveling in the pouring rain, completely soaked, trying to fight the water masses, hastily building check-dams etc... and we handn't even finished planting all the swales.

On one of the last planting weekends, we were joined by our friend Christian Douglas, who is much more seasoned and experienced than us - and in a concluding comment he said: "It's quite a big project. Couldn't you have started a little smaller?"

Well, maybe we could have, but we were ambitious and learned a lot - and although it's far from a perfectly integrated system, we managed to plant between 1500 and 2000 trees on over 800m of swales in the desert. Mr. Zumot agreed to extend his irrigation pipes to our project for the first one or two summers, until the water harvesting system is stable and the trees are mature enough to manage.

There are plenty of images in the updates and within the next week, I'll do a check-up trip to the site to see how the trees are managing in the summer heat.

We will post some more info soon - for specific questions, suggestions or else, please write to [email protected]


Spring = growth!

April 2011 - pictures of fruit on the almond trees! And slow legumes...

Posted over 12 years ago (0 comments)


late Jan 2011 - pictures of the rain waters testing the swales - with great success - so great, some of them break :)

Posted over 12 years ago (1 comments)

Land, Swales and Planting

Jan and Feb 2011 - pictures of the land pre-project, the earthworks and the planting work parties.

Posted over 12 years ago (0 comments)
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