KKL-JNF Granted Notable Award by Local Authorities Union

On Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, the Union of Local Authorities in Israel (ULAI) granted its annual prize for the "Notable of the Union of Local Authorities" (Ot Yakir Shilton Mekomi) to Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) this year for its "110 years of Zionist and environmental accomplishment and achievement for the Jewish people and the State of Israel".

The Notable of the Union of Local Authorities Award - read translated version. Photos: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The ceremony was covered extensively by the media.

see local authority as the body that governs the day to day life of the citizens of Israel,” said KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler in his greetings at the ceremony. “The aim is to create identification with the place of residence. The approach that guides the organization is to provide the municipalities and the regional councils with a high quality and supportive environment for which we work with them cooperatively on hundreds of different joint projects annually."

Since it was founded, KKL-JNF has planted around 240 million trees and is usually associated with its traditional role in forestry, in the maintenance and development of forests and in planting trees. KKL-JNF maintains more than a million dunams (1000 square kilometers) of forests and open spaces and plays an active role in combating wildfires. In recent years KKL-JNF has also launched the Tree for Every Resident project, in which it has made a commitment to plant more than seven million new trees in Israel. KKL-JNF promotes cycling and is developing bike trails all over Israel. The common denominator of all KKL-JNF projects is bringing the people closer to nature, and KKL-JNF has adopted advancing people and their environment as its goal.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler presents KKL-JNF's work. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

n the field of agriculture, KKL-JNF has initiated the construction of 250 reservoirs, which supply 50% of the water needed for irrigation. KKL-JNF also partially finances seven research and development stations that develop innovative methods for growing vegetables and fruits. Because of their locations, these R&D stations are an opportunity for KKL-JNF to undertake the expansion of existing communities in the Negev and in the Arava, and to take an active part in the establishment of new communities in these regions. The new Zionism of KKL-JNF is thus the development of the Negev and the Galilee, and the massive Beersheva River Park project is one of the ways this goal is being realized.

KKL-JNF also takes care of populations that are not Jewish. KKL-JNF built the Coexistence Trail, which connects Dalton and Gush Halav and is equipped with sports facilities. In the Bedouin city of Rahat in the Negev, KKL-JNF constructed a promenade and a new park. KKL-JNF has also prepared the infrastructure for a farm for ecological agriculture and tourism in cooperation with the Bedouin community in Wadi Atir.

On the international level, KKL-JNF develops and maintains extensive contacts with green organizations all over the world the world and shares its vast accumulated knowledge in various fields such as water and combating desertification, in which KKL-JNF experts are the most knowledgeable in the world.

KKL-JNF is active in the field of education through the MAOF program, which promotes educational involvement for all ages including teachers, counselors, schools, community centers and youth movements, with the aim of creating involvement and commitment on a comprehensive level in outlying communities, where the socio-economic gaps are pronounced.

Together with the local authorities, KKL-JNF is establishing ecological learning centers in different parts of Israel, with each center emphasizing an issue with local relevance. In Dimona, for example, the center will focus on the issue of desertification. The center planned for Lavi will be focusing on the issue of forests, trees and their environmental function. The center in Yokneam, which is next to Ramot Menashe, is to focus on the biosphere reserve.

In the next few years, KKL-JNF will be providing the local authorities with about 750 open classrooms in schoolyards for the encouragement of young leadership and for educational programs on environmental protection and ecological values.

Stenzler revealed a future KKL-JNF project; "to lead the process of building a canal from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, 110 miles [177 kilometers] long." The channel, which aims to replenish water in the Dead Sea, "will use the difference in height between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea and will provide clean and inexpensive electricity to its population. This project will require the collaboration of local authorities. With your assistance, we can make any necessary national project in Israel possible."

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