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September 29, 1989 - Image 106

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-29

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A JNF land reclamation project in the southern Arava.

Israel Sets Ecological
Example For The World


Special to The Jewish News




Uptown • Lathrup Village, Southfield at 11 1/2 Mile • Phone 559 3900
Big & Tall • Lathrup Village, Southfield at 10 1/2 Mile • Phone 569 6930





ecent years have seen
the world's forests
dwindling, ag-
gravating such serious ecolo-
gical problems as the "green-
house effect," desertification
and soil erosion. In contrast to
international trends, however,
Israel's afforestation agency,
the Jewish National Fund,
last year planted more trees
than ever before.
Of these environmental
issues, the greenhouse effect
is causing the most concern.
Harmful gases, such as car-
bon monoxide exhaust fumes
from cars and carbon dioxide,
produced by burning other
fossil fuels, are accumulating
in the lower part of the at-
mosphere and preventing ac-
cumulated heat from escap-
ing. This has resulted in a
warming of our atmosphere
by an estimated average of
three degrees centigrade over
the past 50 years. Trees can
alleviate the situation by ab-
sorbing some of these harm-
ful gases and producing ox-
ygen through photosynthesis.
Dr. Menachem Sachs, chief
scientist of the JNF and head
of its southern afforestation
division, warns that trees
alone cannot remedy the
greenhouse effect. But, "If
man stops chopping down ex-
isting forests and increases
the planting of new ones," he
says, "this will make a signifi-
cant difference. What is par-
ticularly important from
Israel's point of view is that
in 100 years time, the semi-
arid conditions prevailing in
Beersheva and the northern
Negev will not have spread
upward to the Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem areas."
For Israel the problem is
considerably less acute than

elsewhere, because JNF
technology and techniques
have resulted in impressive
innovative agricultural and
afforestation achievements in
semi-arid climates, checking
such negative ecological
phenomena as desertification
and soil erosion. While many
countries, especially in the
developing world, are daily
losing land and valuable soil
to the desert, Israel is actual-
ly succeeding in rolling back
the desert.
Many of the record 3.5
million saplings planted last

'Nowhere in the
world do such
large forests
flourish on such
meager rainfall."

year are located in areas of 12
inches of annual rainfall or
less. "The Yatir and Lahav
forests, for example, each
some 7,000 acres in size," ex-
plains Dr. Sachs, "are unique.
Nowhere in the world do such
large forests flourish on such
meager rainfall. And, with
our new methods if
harvesting runoff waters, we
can grow trees in areas where
there is even less rainfall."
For example, JNF has made
great strides in developing a
green belt around Beersheva,
where it employed many of
the techniques it has
developed for nurturing
desert vegetation. By
building a ridge here, digging
a furrow there or constructing
strategic terraces, water can
be directed where it is need-
ed — either to nurture a new
cluster of trees, or to replinish
underground water tables.
This green belt has provided
new leisure and recreational
possibilities for the residents
of the Negev capital.

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