Dana is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering some 320 square kilometers of spectacular mountains and wadis along the face of the Great Rift Valley. From scorching sand dunes in the west to cool mountain tops in the east, the Dana Biosphere Reserve is home to a great variety of wildlife. There are plants and animals characteristic of true desert, of Mediterranean forests and of the dry plains of Russia. In fact, Dana is really a melting pot of species from three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. Such a combination of natural communities in a single area is unique in Jordan and many of Dana’s animals and plants are very rare. So far, a total of 700 plant species, 190 bird species, 37 mammal species and 36 reptile species have been recorded in the Reserve, of which 25 are known to be endangered, including the Sand Cat, the Syrian Wolf, the Lesser Kestrel and the Spiny Tailed Lizard. Without special care, some of these could disappear from Earth forever, which makes the Dana Biosphere Reserve a place of global importance.
The Dana Village area, overlooking the scenic Wadi Dana, has been occupied since about 4,000 BC. Archaeological evidence indicates that Paleolithic, Egyptian, Nabatean, and Roman civilizations have been drawn to the area by the fertile soil, water springs, and strategic location. Today, Dana Village is inhabited mostly by clans of the “Al Ata’ata” tribe, which settled in the area during the Ottoman period, about four hundred years ago, and built the present village. Over the years, many of the families in Dana Village have moved to the nearby village of Qadissiya, in search of better jobs, schools, and housing. The crumbling Dana Village was nearly abandoned, but thanks to the fund-raising efforts of Friends of Dana, a dynamic women’s group in Amman, over 70 of the traditional stone houses have been restored, enabling some families to remain in the village.
The spectacular landscape of the Feynan area and the communities that live within it, host an extraordinary history. While research is still in progress, it can be said Feynan has one of the longest sequences of human settlement in the world. Feynan is home to some of humanity’s first communities and is one of the oldest and most important centres of sustained copper exploitation in the ancient world, and one of the best preserved due to the lack of modern mining.