Hagit – The Israel Electric Corporation Customers’ Forest

Projects and Partners Worldwide

The site was developed with contributions from friends of KKL JNF worldwide including Israel.

Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik
Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

About the forest

To the north of the Menashe Hills (Ramat Menashe) lies a newly afforested area that has been named the Israel Electric Corporation Customers’ Forest. Situated to the north of Route 70, which runs alongside the Tut River (Nahal Tut), the forest sprawls over the hills that surround the Hagit Power Station. These trees were planted as an appreciatory gesture to Corporation customers who have opted to receive their bills by e-mail, in order to help save paper and conserve the environment. In early 2012 the Electric Corporation began to offer its consumers the option of electronic billing, and it has invested the money saved thereby in the creation of this new forest, which is dedicated to its customers.

Every two months, the Electric Corporation sends out around 2.5 million bills. So far over 200 thousand consumers have opted to get their bills by e-mail. This saves the company from having to send out every year some 1,200,000 paper bills weighing a total of around 24 tons, for which the destruction of 400 trees would be required. The Electric Corporation and KKL-JNF hope that additional customers will come to see the advantages of electronic billing and the environmental benefits this arrangement provides.

The Forest

Israel Electric Corporation Customers’ Forest was inaugurated in April 2012. The forest and power station are both named after the Hagit Spring (Ma‘yan Hagit), which rises slightly to the east of the power station on land cultivated by Tzabar Farm. In winter the waters of this small spring flow along Nahal Hagit (“Hagit River”), a section of which is diverted through a pipe on power station property. Archeological excavations near the spring have revealed the remains of a building from the Roman period. Another spring, Ein Katina, flows into a small pool close to the north-western corner of the power station. The quality of the water from these springs is monitored constantly, as it flows into the Nahal Tut Nature Reserve (Wadi Milh).

So far, KKL-JNF has planted new trees on some 900 dunam (approx 225 acres) out of an overall area of 3,000 dunam (750 acres) that has been earmarked for afforestation. Most of the trees in the forest, which includes small groves of older conifers, were transplanted from other areas where they were endangered. To help them settle in, the young trees are irrigated for the first few years after planting with some of the water otherwise used to provide steam for electricity production.

Hagit Power Station produces 1,400 megawatts of electricity using natural gas, an environmentally friendly fuel. The station is situated on the side of the hill, and thus concealed from the eyes of travelers passing by along Route 70. Innovative technologies for the collection of wastewater and industrial effluent ensure that the environment around the power station remains unpolluted; nighttime noise and light emissions are similarly limited and controlled.

Hagit Recreation Area

The Hagit Recreation Area is the ideal starting point for excursions both on foot and by bicycle. The site includes a parking lot, picnic tables and classrooms, all shaded by trees. Some of the tables will soon be made disabled accessible. The Israel Electric Corporation and KKL-JNF are now planning the construction of the Renewable Energies Trail, a short path that will branch off the recreation area and which will include signs explaining the technologies used for the production of “clean” electricity.

The walking trail

Length: Approximately 2.5 kilometers.
Character: Circular route; suitable for all the family.
Length of time required: Around one hour.
Recommended seasons: Autumn, winter and spring.

Our route begins at the recreation area’s parking lot near the large KKL-JNF sign at the entrance. The map on the sign provides details of the routes of both the cycle trails and the footpath. The footpath ascends to the upper section of the recreation area, which includes the future site of the Renewable Energies Trail, and continues directly northwards. In late February and early March, the batha (dwarf-shrub undergrowth characteristic of the Mediterranean region) is full of flowers: blue lupins (Lupinus pilosus), yellow asphodel (Asphodeline lutea), spiny broom (Calicotome villosa) and branched asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus). Small bushes of Syrian marjoram (Origanum syriacum) are also greatly in evidence. The undergrowth shows clear signs of having been grazed by cattle.

The path leads us up to the fence around the power station and almost doubles back on itself before turning eastwards through the rocks and batha. After another 800 meters we arrive at a copse of conifers, composed principally of Canadian pine and sandarac gum trees; this latter species is a scaly-leafed conifer native to north-west Africa. Here and there, concretions of flint can be seen. Such formations are characteristic of the layered friable chalk rock configurations of the Adulam formation of which these rocks are composed.

The path leads directly downwards to the riverbed of Nahal Tut (“Mulberry River”), which, at this point, flows through the nature reserve that bears its name. Most of the springs in the area flow only seasonally and in meager quantities, and this is also the case with Ein Tut (“Mulberry Spring”). The main reason for their low water output is the limited size of the catchment basin. Nahal Tut, on the other hand, flows all year round, allowing willows, oleanders, brambles and other types of riverside vegetation to grow and develop along its banks. The river water provides a habitat for watercress, a plant whose leaves have a refreshing taste reminiscent of that of radishes; please do not pick them, however, as picking leaves or flowers within the nature reserve is prohibited. The stream water is also home to the Yarkon bleak (Acanthobrama telavivensis; also known as the Yarkon bream), a silvery fish around ten centimeters in length that lives exclusively in streams that flow down to the Israeli coast; it is found nowhere else in the world.

The path continues alongside Nahal Tut for around 300 meters, passing close by an abandoned loquat orchard. Here, we have to watch out for a silver-colored gate in a cattle fence before the olive grove. Having found the gate, we pass through it and walk on between two fences as we make our way back downhill to the recreation area.

For cyclists – The Hagit single track

The Hagit single-track bike trail is marked all the way along its length. The track is built in the shape of a figure 8, consisting of two interlocking circles of different sizes. The eastern circle (the Hagit Loop) is around seven kilometers in length, while the western circle, which goes all the way to Bat Shlomo, is fifteen kilometers long. This trail allows cyclists to link up with trails at Har Horshan and Mount Carmel Forest.

The two Hagit bicycle paths meet at a junction point some 500 meters north of the access road to the Hagit Power Station.

The Hagit Forest scenic lookout

The Hagit Forest scenic lookout provides a view of the woodland and the power station from the top of the hill located to the east of the forest, close to the fence that surrounds the Elyakim army base.

How to get there:

From the roundabout at the Elyakim Interchange, continue for about 200 meters in the direction of Daliyat al-Carmel, then turn left along the paved road that leads to the Elyakim army base. Before the gate into the base, at the start of a dirt road that turns off to the left, stands a KKL-JNF sign indicating the entrance to Hagit Forest. Follow this dirt road for about 400 meters, then turn off to the right on to another dirt road that leads up to the scenic lookout.