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USDA Initiates Joint Middle East Monitoring Study of Watersheds in the Middle East Region

Israel, Jordan, Palestine Authority, Turkey, and the United States collaborate to foster cooperation, and the peace process, in the Middle East.

February 12, 2001 (Tucson, AZ)--The USDA Forest Service has initiated a joint Middle East study "Monitoring Evaluation of Watersheds in the Middle East Region". The Monitoring study, a collaborative effort between Israel, Jordan, Palestine Authority, Turkey, and the United States, was submitted by the Inventory and Monitoring Institute, USDA, Forest Service, and is intended to foster cooperation, and the peace process, in the Middle East. The study has a tiered, or hierarchical, sequence of objectives that begins with management goals specific to each individual country and extends to an assessment of monitoring techniques across all countries.

High erosion and sedimentation rates along with inefficient water use are all results of poor land use practices that represent a common problem throughout the Middle east and the United States. Acceptable intervention techniques are well known but, unfortunately, little has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of our ability to monitor the effect of these practices and, although the desired outcome is similar, the practices implemented vary between countries. The technical objectives of the proposal call for each of the participating countries to:

  • Implement and evaluate effective watershed management practices to prevent erosion and sedimentation and increase the efficiency of water use, in arid and semi-arid pilot watershed programs, while maintaining sustainable productivity.
  • Evaluate physical and biological measurements appropriate for evaluation of operational watershed management involving Forest and grassland management practices, in arid and semi-arid regions.
  • Demonstrate effective watershed management practices for Forest and grassland management using pilot watershed programs.

Each participating country located a suitable study site, defined the problems to be resolved, is currently selecting and implementing the most effective mitigation treatments, and instrumenting the site to obtain the metrics to be monitored in order to assess treatment effectiveness. The focal point, for collaboration resides in the establishment of an International Study Team, comprised of equal representation from each country that will oversee the design and evaluation of the effectiveness monitoring protocols used to assess treatment success. The International Study Team is a self directed, self governed, technical advisory group. Project success will be contingent upon successful communication, collaboration, and trust within and between members of the Team. Each participant must be willing to accept and follow the recommendations of the Team with respect to the design, implementation, and evaluation of the monitoring program in their country. The first meeting of the International Study Team was held in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel during July 2000. The purpose of the meeting was to design the suite of metrics that will be jointly monitored by all participants. Project strategy includes involvement of Graduate Research Assistants on in-country activities there by providing linkages with Academic Institutions as well as training future scientists and resource managers.

Funding for the study will be provided from the participating countries, The USDA Forest Service International Program Office, The US State Department, and the USAID MERC program. Total funding from these sources will be approximately 3.4 million dollars with approximately equal distribution of about 3 million dollars in each of the Middle East countries and approximately 0.5 million dollars to the US Forest Service.



The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions. IALC promotes cooperative research and practical application of new knowledge to develop sustainable ecological practices. The member institutions and their affiliates share a mission to enable people of arid lands to improve the quality of life for future generations. IALC members include the University of Arizona, Desert Research Institute-Nevada, the University of Illinois, Jewish National Fund, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the Higher Council for Science & Technology-Jordan. The Ministry of Agriculture & Land Reclamation-Egypt is an affiliate member.