Devira Forest - An Ecological Corridor to the Mediterranean Sea

Devira Forest is situated in the southern Judean foothills toward the Negev and is part of the Lahav Forest. Together, they form an ecological corridor that connects the Judean Hills and Hebron with the Mediterranean Sea. Devira Forest serves as a habitat for an abundance of wildlife and migratory birds.


Geographic location: Northern and western Negev
Access: Special (adapted for the disabled)

Identity Card


Anemones in Dvira Forest. Photo: Hagit Lavi


• Special Sites in the Forest: Migdalit and Zaak Antiquities, Nahal Shikma Scenic Road.
 
Facilities: Picinic area, Marked path, Archeological or Historic site, Active recreation area, Accessible site.
 
• Additional Sites in the Vicinity: Lahav Forest, Joe Alon Center and Museum for Bedouin Culture, Rimon Antiquities, Tel Khalif, Karel Lookout, Abu Hof Antiquities, Moran Forest, Eshkolot Forest, Kramim Forest, Zaak Ruins, Yatir Forest, Dudaim Forest, Meitar Forest, Pura Nature Reserve.

• How do you get there? From Highway 40 driving towards Beersheba, turn off to Highway 325 at about 2.5 km after Kama Junction, and drive toward Kibbutz Dvir and Kibbutz Lahav. About 2 km further, turn left (north). The entrance to Devira Forest is a little after Kibbutz Dvir and about 7 km east of Rahat.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
Devira Forest was created, restored and is maintained thanks to contributions of friends of KKL-JNF worldwide, including Israel.

About the Forest

Devira Forest, which is north of Lahav Forest, was mostly planted in the 1990s. The trees planted there are coniferous (pines), deciduous (terebinth, carob, acacia, eucalyptus) and orchard trees (olive, fig), and they were adapted for planting in the Negev with special methods suitable for arid climates.
 


Devira Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.

The tree planting method is called savannization, and it is based on harvesting desert floodwater. Terraces, furrows and ridges halt the rainwater and prevent it from running off. This method causes most of the water to be absorbed and stored in the earth, deep enough not to evaporate and close enough to the surface to be utilized by the vegetation.
 
The Lahav Forest bloc is an ecological corridor that connects the Judean Hills and Hebron with the Mediterranean Sea, and it serves as a habitat for an abundance of wildlife and migratory birds. The area is situated on a migration route and serves as a last chance for birds to receive food and energy for the continuation of their journey. The presence of fruit trees provides them with food and energy to proceed on their flight to the African continent. There are many animals in the area including hares, rodents, gazelles, jackals, foxes, porcupines, wolves and lizards.
 
Tree planting in arid regions contributes towards mitigating climate change, since trees are known for carbon sequestration in their trunks, and they thereby assist in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Teva Recreation Area


In the heart of Devira Forest, there is a picnic area that was developed thanks to a generous contribution from Teva, the Israeli pharmaceutical company. The company administration, workers and their families, together with the children from the Yesodot school, a school for special education in Beersheba, , worked together on developing the recreation area for visitors and planting new trees in the forest. The recreation area serves as a base for hikes, travelers on the Israel National Trail, as well as a rest stop for cyclers.

 

The recreation area has picnic tables, playground equipment (wooden beams for climbing and swings), water fountains, trash cans, barbecue facilities and a short footpath that leads to the Migdalit Antiquities, which is an archeological site. The recreation area has been adapted for the physically disabled, including the picnic tables, which are wheelchair accessible.

 


A recreation area in Devira Forest. Photo: David Greenspan

Sites in the Forest

The Migdalit and Zaak Antiquities

Ancient Devira caves. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo ArchiveAt the Migdalit site, there is a cave dwelling from the Byzantine Period, which contains foundations of  buildings, caves, a cistern and stones that were brought there for secondary use. The cave served as a permanent dwelling or a temporary dwelling during the grazing season. The cave complex is divided into places for human dwelling, animal dwelling and storage of tools and supplies. The site has a courtyard surrounded by a stone fence, where the herds were gathered and where other domestic chores were done, such as baking and laundering. The site also has a plastered pit for storing rainwater.
 
Visitors in the area have two options. One is to go from Nahal Shikma back to Highway 325 (Shoket Junction – Lehavim Junction) and end the excursion at the Lahav Forest lookout tower and the Joe Alon Center for Bedouin Culture. Another is to continue on the Devira Forest road another for 3km eastward to the Zaak Antiquities (preferably in an ATV). In the winter, when the anemones and the bee orchids are in bloom, it is recommended to continue along the road to the Zaak Antiquities until the Kenaz Well and Nahal Shomriya.
 
On the way to the Zaak ruins, along the roadside, there are new trees in protective sleeves such as olive, carob, jujube, terebinth, eucalyptus, pine and acacia, which were planted by KKL-JNF using the savannization method. There are many butterflies in the area, according to season, which are attracted to the acacia trees. Zaak is an ancient site from many periods and contains remnants from different eras, from the middle Bronze Age (4,000 years go) to the late Arab Period. There is a secret tunnel at the site and a winepress inside the cave.
 
Entrance to the site is free but must be arranged in advance. This place is suitable for families with children. After a visit to the Zaak Antiquities, one may continue to the adjacent Lahav Forest and enjoy the great view from the Foresters Watchtower, or have a picnic in one of the many recreation areas in the forest.

Nahal Shikma Scenic Road

Nahal Shikma is one of the largest streambeds of the coastal plain. It starts near Kibbutz Lahav and descends from there in a moderate channel toward the northwest, passes near Kibbutz Dvir and proceeds to the coastal plain. The watercourse continues northwest parallel to the Tel Aviv – Beersheba railroad. It crosses Highway 40 and passes through a nature reserve that has springs, lush vegetation and archeological sites.
 
Like other rivers in Israel, it is characterized by an irregular flow that appears with the winter rainfall. Its name is derived from the abundance of sycamore trees on its banks. In the early 1980s, when the streambed was restored, KKL-JNF planted a variety of trees on its banks, including eucalyptus, date palm, terebinth, jujube and carob, all which provide an ecological corridor for diverse wildlife and many birds typical to regions between the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.
 
The beauty of the area changes with the seasons. In the winter, there are green fields where clover, grain, legumes and wheat are cultivated, and in the summer, there is a lot of yellow. One can cycle along the length of the stream bank or drive along it by car, preferably an ATV. The Teva Recreation Area is at the eastern end of Nahal Shikma.
 

Devira Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.