Home / News, Videos & Publications / News / Negev Development & Community Programs /

Israel’s Remarkable Reforestation

Israel’s Remarkable Reforestation

January 15, 2014

Negev Development & Community Programs

BGU Prof. Alon Tal, a noted Israeli environment Researchal activist, outlines the dramatic reforestation of the Holy Land that was fraught with political, national and environment Researchal implications from the beginning of the British Mandate in 1918 until today in his newest book, All the Trees of the Forest: Israel’s Woodlands from the Bible to the Present.

Prof. Tal of the Bona Terra Department of Man in the Desert at BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research is spending the year as a visiting scholar at Stanford University. This week, he made two presentations for Americans for Ben-Gurion University’s Northwest Region in Berkeley and Carmel.

“In 1948,” he writes, “forests covered two percent of Israel’s territory. Today, trees cover eight and a half percent of the land — approximately 247,000 acres — in a country that is 97 percent drylands, making Israel’s forestry experience very relevant to the half of the planet where water is scarce.”

The wide array of benefits from reforestation was not uppermost in the minds of British foresters in the early 20th century, who planted trees during the Mandate period primarily to halt soil erosion. Nor were they prioritized by the early Zionists, who sought to plant as many trees as possible, as quickly as possible. That led to the densely planted pine forests that have been much maligned, not always fairly, says Tal.

“We tend to forget that the environment Researchal agenda is also a social agenda,” says Tal.

Read more on the J Weekly website >>