The National Master Plan for Forests and Afforestation

The National Master Plan for Forests and Afforestation (NOP 22) is a policy document broadly reviewing afforestation plans in the sphere of planning and action in Israel, especially its effect on planning at the national and local levels. The importance of the issue comes to light as this document broadly reviews approaches of sustainable forestry around the world and ways to adopt and apply them in Israel.

About the National Master Plan for Forests and Afforestation


A lookout from the Gilboa. Photo: Ilan Lorentzi, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

In the framework of the concept of sustainable development, this document broaches the idea of afforestation in the "spirit of place"; i.e., afforestation that suits the assets and attributes of each individual site, fits in with and enhances its natural resources and contributes to its uniqueness and identity. NOP 22 effected essential change in the land uses of Israel's open spaces.

The document presents a thorough review of the major master plans drawn up and approved in the period since the original time of approval of NOP 22, and the latter's place in these new plans. In gist and word, NOP 22 has apparently been assimilated by all the plans: Primarily by NOP 35, the integrated national master plan by a series of regional master plans submitted and partially approved in this period and by hundreds of local plans all over the country. Moreover, the new plans did not subtract from the lands of NOP 22; on the contrary, many added to them, thereby increasing the area of forests and woodlands protected in Israel.


A walk in Baraam Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

In the years since NOP 22's approval, sustainable development became a key concept for planners in Israel and around the world. This approach was weighed with respect to the forestry system and amplified. To adopt and foster approaches of sustainable afforestation means: "Managing and utilizing forests in a manner and to a degree that protect and sustain the biological diversity productivity, regeneration, vitality, and potential of forests to fill ecological, economic and social functions without causing harm to other ecosystems."

The plan created a system of efficient protection for forests, natural woodlands and open spaces that have both value and the potential for afforestation and regeneration; these lands, unprotected by other frameworks, faced the risk of being allocated for development and construction. Since its ratification, it already serves as the basis for regional planning and drafting programs of leisure and recreation in forests and natural woodlands.

The document broadly reviews the activities related to NOP 22 in KKL-JNF's Planning Division, particularly the large-scale project of preparing local plans for every tract of forest and woodland falling within NOP 22. About 180 plans were produced in this period. Some have reached the stage of approval others are still under discussion in planning committees.

The project's completion will lead to a precise definition of the limits and expansibility of NOP 22. The Planning Division is now working on ways to have the changes adopted by the national planning system.