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The Historical Context for Land Resource Surveys in Jordan

JordanBakar (2001) reports how soil mapping and classification started in Jordan in the 1950s at a scale of 1:1,000,000, using the US soil classification system of 1938 with twelve great soil groups being recognized, the most common of which being grey desert soils, alluvial soils developed under desert climate, yellow soils developed under steppe conditions, and yellow and red Mediterranean soils developed where annual rainfall exceeds 250mm.

During the 1960s, West (1970) mapped the Soils of Baqa’a Valley at a scale of (10,000) using the U S Soil Taxonomy (7th Approximation). The area covered by this study was about 6,700 ha. The dominant taxonomic units encountered were Xerochrepts and Chromoxerets.

Usually these soils were located on gentle slopes and flat topography. Xerorthents were also identified in that area. However, their distribution was limited and they only occurred on the eroded slopes. This work was extended during the 1970s to Irbid and Karak regions. A detailed survey was carried out for 2,500 ha, and a semidetailed survey for 70,000 ha in Irbid region. Similar soil studies were conducted also in different parts of the country. An estimated area of 80,000 ha was mapped at a scale of 1:50,000 in Balqa.

Land Regions for Jordan were defined by Mitchell (1975) and interpretation of 1:250,000 scale LANDSAT MSS imagery to refine these units provided the basis for the soil mapping programme of the National Soil Map and Land Use Project (NSM&LUP) 1989-95. This study, conducted on behalf of the Jordanian Ministry of Agricuture by Hunting Technical Services Ltd. (UK) in association with Cranfield University’s Soil Survey and Land Research Centre (UK) led to the production of a national soil map and land use database for Jordan.

The National Soil Map and Land Use Project (NSM&LUP) was identified by staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Soil Survey Section in 1986 and processed through the Ministry of Planning with funding being identified in 1988 through the Commission of the European Communities. A contract (Project Number SEM/03/628/005) was signed between the Consultants and Client on the 2nd July 1989.

The study was carried out by a combined team of expatriate consultants and Jordanian staff and commenced on 2nd July 1989 with the formal signing of the contract and the arrival of the Project Manager. Other consultant staff, equipment and transport arrived by December 1989 allowing technical work to commence. A Computer Expert from Soil Survey and Land Research Centre (SSLRC), Cranfield University, UK, arrived in November and began the set-up of the DBMS and GIS systems. Jordanian staff were appointed at this time.

The Level 1 soil survey, a broad reconnaissance of the soils of the whole Kingdom with mapping at 1:250,000 scale, was the first part of a three level study: Level 2 involved semi-detailed soil survey and production of soil, land use and land suitability maps of 9000 km2 at 1:50,000 scale. Level 3 presents soil, land cover and land suitability maps at 1:10,000 scale of about 800 km2 based on a detailed soil survey.

Soils, Land Suitability and Land Cover were mapped at 1:10,000 scale, as 35 sheets on a base map prepared from existing published topographic maps of 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 scale. Albums of these maps are held at Cranfield in the WOSSAC collection together with paper-based copies of all the associated reports.

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