“One-third of the world population lives in dry, arid regions,” Brand concluded. “We in KKL-JNF Israel have knowledge on how to deal with such issues and we are very happy to share it with other organizations and institutions.”
Bolton-Laor noted that KKL-JNF has created a very strong bond with its supporters abroad
through tree planting, but now rather than to keep planting trees, the next challenge is to manage and maintain the forests that have already been created and make them accessible and appropriate for the country’s current needs.
On a field tour to Martyrs Forest
in the Jerusalem hills
, Hanoch Tzoref presented the implementation of Israel's new forest management policy in terms of goal-oriented forests and adaptive management. On a visit to Sataf, he presented issues of urban and periurban forestry at the Sataf community forest
, which is dedicated to the reconstruction of an ancient Roman agricultural village and its two springs.
“The heritage here belongs to everyone. There were lots of people who lived here during the Roman period,” he said. He noted that both Jews and Arabs regard the water from the Sataf springs as holy and come there for blessings to help in conceiving and during pregnancy.
He noted that almost between two to three million people visit KKL-JNF forests in the Jerusalem area alone every year.
“Fifteen years ago most of my work was planting and taking care of the trees,” he said. “Now there is a huge change and my work is mainly management.”
It is indeed time, the visitors agreed, to teach people how to become “stewards of the forest.”
“I have known from several sources of the development in Israel. The KKL-JNF afforestation
is very impressive. Israel is one of the few examples in dry lands where you have reforestation,” said Rojas. “It is important what they are doing with their knowledge. Many of the challenges present here are shared around the Mediterranean and it is always interesting to share experiences.”
Viewing the Kisalon valley and the modern day moshav of Kisalon
, Tzoref pointed out the ancient terraces on the north face of the slope, which is more protected from the sun and wind.
“There is a lot of history here and there,” he said. “This is where the ancient city of Kisalon was, which according to the Bible, was one of the resting places of the Ark of the Covenant. And it is also important from an ecological point of view. We have to decide what its main land designation is.”
KKL-JNF uses its years of accumulated knowledge on where people like to picnic
and where there is unique vegetation to determine which lands will be designated for leisure use and which will be designated for special vegetation, noted Brand.
“We used to think we have to manage every acre all the time, but now that we understand that the trees will manage by themselves, we don’t have to manage everything,” he said.
A visit to the KKL-JNF Beit Nehemia Seed Center provided the foresters with an opportunity to see some of the techniques the unit uses to harvest, sort, store, and pre-germinate seeds in order to meet the production demands of KKL-JNF’s three nurseries in the Northern, Central, and Southern regions.
They were met at the seed center by Hagay Yavlovich
, Director of KKL-JNF's Seeds and Nursery Division, and Aviv Eisenband
, KKL-JNF Director of Forestry and Professional Development.
Yavlovich said that his four-person team collects some 1-2 tons of seeds each year, extracting from them some 4-5 tons of fruits. Foresters also help in the collection of the seeds.
The seed center provides some 1 million seedlings per year. The team selects the “elite” trees that are less susceptible to disease or forest fires to harvest the seeds from, Yavlovich noted.
“Our main goal is the survival of the forest,” he concluded.
KKL-JNF policy of diverse landscape management is about sustainable
landscape management and knowing how to use landscapes for different functions, noted Walter as their first study day neared its conclusion.
“You need a strong support system to place a seed and generate strong reforestation. It can’t happen in one day,” said Walter, noting that the discussions they had had over the day were important for the sharing and exchanging of ideas. “We have seen so much on our first day here. With all the experience on the ground that KKL-JNF has had over the last 100 years, there is a huge opportunity to build on KKL-JNF’s experiences.”
Commenting on the efficiency with which KKL-JNF acts as forest administrator in every aspect from seed management to the recreational component, Parfondry noted that he was very impressed with what he had seen, including the work done to prevent forest fires.
“The forest here is multipurpose, and recreation plays an important role, so does tourism and the heritage and spiritual value of the forest. The forest here has a high significance compared to what I have seen in other countries,” he said.