Post-Forest Fire Rehabilitation: After the Megafires in the Jerusalem Hills

The wisdom of waiting
Israeli newsite YNET recently documented wildlife returning to the burnt forests of the Jerusalem hills. In YNET's accompanying article, Amir Balaban from the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) stresses the importance of letting nature heal itself. In concurrencce with this approach, KKL-JNF's forestry policy ensures the natural regeneration and natural succession (process by which forests regrow in stages) of burnt forests.

Translated and edited by: Anna Reizel (September, 2021)
Video by: Amir Balaban, Society for the Protection of Nature, for YNET, Wildlife Channel


From the original YNET article (Hebrew):

So soon after the virulent wildfires, snake eagles have returned and migratory birds have found insects to feed on. Larger animals, such as gazelles and fallow deer, are also expected to return to the burnt forests in the coming weeks.

Almost one month has passed [since the Jerusalem Hills megafire] and the wildlife that survived is reappearing in the burnt Jerusalem hills. The fires in Nahal Kisalon and Har Hataysim (the Pilots' Mountain) severely damaged the Mediterranean vegetation. While thousands of acres went up in flames, large numbers of wildlife, particularly those small, were burned in the conflagration. Recently, however, wildlife has begun to emerge, returning to the forests.

With the promise of continued and new life, the article goes on to warn against initiating any planting for years to come and explains the wisdom of the policy of natural regeneration.

As the planters and stewards of Israel's forests, KKL-JNF concurs with the course of action as described by SPNI. KKL-JNF's forestry policy ensures the natural regeneration and natural succession (process by which forests regrow in stages) of burnt forests.

Taking the factor of climate crisis into consideration, KKL-JNF's forest management policy is currently being updated as regards post-fire forest rehabilitation, comprising part of a comprehensive forestry policy document.

Click on image below for more wildlife photos on YNET

Photos by: Amir Balaban, Society for the protection of Nature, 2021

Click to view this photo and more on YNET

According to Gilad Ostrovsky, Chief KKL-JNF Forester and Director of the Forestry Department, the three main components of rehabilitation include:

  1. Immediate operations to ensure safety along roads and picnic and recreation sites, felling burnt trees and clearing burnt material.
  2. Gathering information and preparing a long-term rehabilitation program.
  3. Surveying the type and extent of damage to infrastructure and forest vegetation, during and after the wet winter season, and planning their restoration. Deciding to implement supplementary plantings will be made only after at least two years, on condition that desired growth does not occur naturally.

Now, following the High Holiday season, the KKL-JNF Forestry Department is organizing a work team and holding discussions and study sessions to better understand the megafire event, which involved ~3,700 acres of forest, and defining directions for improving fire prevention and management.

Click to learn more: KKL-JNF Principles and Guidelines for the Rehabilitation of Burnt Areas