Limans in the Negev

The Negev is characterized by a remarkable landscape feature known as “limans,” which are mainly to be found adjacent to roads and railway tracks. These earthen constructions collect floodwater by damming a gully or streambed. The dam slows the flow of the accumulated runoff water, causing it to permeate the soil and thus allow small groves of trees to flourish in areas with meager rainfall.

What is a Liman?

What is a Liman?

A liman is an earthwork that collects floodwater by means of a dam in a gully or riverbed. Trees are planted in the flooded area of the dam.  An overflow channel regulates the level of water accumulated and allows the excess to escape.

A Landscape for Tourism and Holidaymaking: Limans as a Designed Landscape

A Landscape for Tourism and Holidaymaking: Limans as a Designed Landscape

From Kiryat Gat southwards, limans accompany the traveler and stand out as green oases amid the surrounding desert landscape.

Limans in existing or potential tourist / holiday areas

Limans in existing or potential tourist / holiday areas

Limans can be found in various tourist and holiday areas. Here is a list of those areas, where you can feast your eyes with this unique phenomenon

Environmental and ecological aspects of limans in a desert environment

Environmental and ecological aspects of limans in a desert environment

Limans not only help to combat desertification, but also encourage biological diversity, contribute to the carbon cycle and more

The word liman comes from Greek, and means “port.” It appears in the Yoma tractate of the Jerusalem Talmud: “Until he reached the liman of Jaffa.”
 
Limans are notable for their location and the way trees are planted in them and acclimated to the arid climate with the help of ancient agricultural techniques once widely used in this region. Since the 1960s KKL-JNF has had a mandate for the creation and maintenance of limans, as an extension of the activities of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Land Conservation Division, which until then had been responsible for forestry.
 
Some 420 limans can be found throughout the Negev, most of them adjacent to Route 40 (from Beersheba to Mitzpe Ramon), Route 25 (Dimona / Beersheba / Netivot) and Route 31 (Arad / Shoket / Lehavim / Eshel HaNasi).
 
These limans make a unique contribution to the arid expanses of the Negev, and enhance tourism by providing a place to stop, rest and listen to explanations in the shade. Ecologically speaking, they promote the conservation of water, flora and fauna, benefit the trees and improve grazing for the flocks of local Bedouin.
 
The limans are now under threat from the increased pace of intensive development underway in the Negev: the expansion of a variety of infrastructures (future railroad tracks, road widening, etc.), construction close to or on top of the limans (mainly as a result of the transfer of IDF military bases to the Negev) and overgrazing are the principal factors endangering the continued existence of this feature of the Negev landscape.
 
In consequence, KKL-JNF has decided to adopt several courses of action in order to conserve the limans as part of the man-made landscape of the Negev.