More than 60 percent of Israel’s landmass in the country’s southern Negev desert and Arava Valley is arid and semi-arid, with an average annual precipitation ranging between 250 mm and less than 50mm. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in temperature and the rate of evaporation in the Negev.
In Israel, the concept of “making the desert bloom” was accepted long before anyone had coined the concept of “climate change.” As far back as the 1930's, David Ben-Gurion spoke of developing the Negev, and as time rolled on, it became a principal value of national importance. Research has shown that suitable ecological treatment in semi-arid areas can prevent soil erosion and stop desertification. This is demonstrated superbly in the Yatir Forest in the northern Negev, which is located on the edge of the desert in a semi-arid region, yet it has become the largest forest in Israel.
As a result of Israel’s cumulative experience in this field, many countries view Israel as a professional authority on central ecological issues, of which the primary ones are combating desertification and forest development. Researchers from around the world are very interested in the methods that Israel has developed for desert afforestation and agriculture, and KKL-JNF has held several international conferences on the subject in recent years.