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Damascus Environmental Park: a link between fragrance of the past and perfumed bouquets of the present

The idea of founding an environmental park was initiated by members of the Syrian Association for Environment in collaboration with national and international organization in 2003, but the idea only saw light in 2005,  when a stone wall was built around both tributaries of Barada river where work continued for three years until the park accomplishment. Environment park Damascus is sited on Barada Riverbank near Damascus Castle, few meters away from the famous Umayyad Mosque, Azm Palace, Hamidiya souk and Mausoleum of Saladin. The park is a living testament to the bond between human and its renewable and natural resources.

The park is designed as various plants assortment from the Damascene house,  Damascus Ghouta, Barada valley and mountains surrounding. In the rosaries are cultivated flowerbeds of florae such as lily, jasmine, basil, Damascene roses. of Vegetable patches made of beans, peas and tomatoes rows, are grown between the orchards of bearers like olive trees, citrus trees, cherries and berries trees, alongside with non-edible kinds as willows and Mediterranean trees. Amid trees parterres of parsley, hibiscus, chard and wheat are planted.

The environmental park was established to raise awareness especially among new generations to the necessity of environmental care and protect. in addition to link education with environment to spread knowledge about biodiversity prevailing Damascus and its basin.

All natural park visitors assure that it is the first of its kind in Syria, perfumed with fragrances from past mixed with present;  in a place with no room for synthetic materials as only natural materials are used to create the various components of the park. There wood is used in the manufacture of kiosks, larches and birdhouses;  and all lanes are paved with natural stone besides only vegetation that bear the region climate were planted in the botanical garden.

The park area is about a thousand square meters, whereas the café area is about 170 square meters having a terrace divided into 12 islands, each island contains a collection of plants and has an identification card for each plant to recognize names of cultivated plants such as aromatic plants, wild, ornamental, and medicinal and lemon trees and.

Inside the park stands out a teashop with a damascene design architecture,  from which the aroma of freshly grinded coffee mixed with roses fragrance encounter  newcomers. The café is an essential part of the project as it is used to hold environment seminars and conferences by the environment society. As well as a guide to identify  Syrian national botany and plants diversity that entered Syria and adapted to the region climate.

The beginning of spring and summer is a new season for nature admirers from Damascus, provinces and Arab and foreign countries; who find a green haven as a serene refuge of the city hustle to enjoy the park splendor divided into multi-island including fruit trees, aromatic plants, and medicinal plants etc…

“I come to this park for of its impressive landscape and to enjoy the charming overlook of Damascus castle;  besides I come to write in an atmosphere of tranquility” said one visitor, reflecting the people's awareness of such places importance.

Rowan a university student, is keen on constantly visiting the park with her friends because it is a unique place in Damascus.  She considers as well that not allowing smoking is a wonderful gesture from staff in charge,  as well as a contribution to raise people awareness especially youth and children,  toward environmental issues.

 

Haifaa Mafalani           

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