Report on World Wetlands Day 2000 in Israel

17/02/2000

israel.gif (1211 bytes)REPORT ON WORLD WETLAND DAY 2000 IN ISRAEL

On the week of January 21-29, 2000, Israel’s green organizations celebrated the country’s 38th National Nature Conservation Week. The week is celebrated in conjunction with the Jewish festival of Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees, which usually falls between mid-January and mid-February, according to the lunar calendar. Since World Wetland Day is celebrated on February 2, Israel has opted to join the two dates together this year.

Each year, a different ecological issue is selected as the central theme for Nature Conservation Week. Representatives of Israel’s green organizations choose the subject and provide the financial resources required to implement associated activities. A different green organization spearheads the activities each year. Last year, the theme focused on marine nature conservation.

Traditionally, the annual event includes a variety of activities on nature conservation including conferences and lectures on the chosen theme, largely free guided tours to national parks, nature reserves and open spaces, radio and television broadcasts, posters and jingles, and wide press coverage. Over the past few years, the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority has produced a special publication, distributed along with the weekend edition of Israel’s most widely read newspaper, which highlights the central theme of the week and presents an overview of planned tours and activities.

This year, following two years of drought, Israel’s green organizations decided to devote the week to the future of wetlands in Israel. As in previous years, programs and advertisements were broadcast on national and regional radio and television networks as well as in newspapers throughout the week in order to promote public participation. On the day of Tu Bishvat itself, and over both weekends, short public service announcements about planned activities were aired. A special radio-jingle was sounded throughout the week on all radio stations and a specially-designed poster on the subject was distributed among all schools and displayed on the walls of public and government buildings. Both the radio-jingle and the poster focused on the theme of the week and called for water conservation for the sake of nature.

In addition, two conferences were convened this year, in conjunction with scientific societies and universities. The first conference took place at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, at the Sede Boqer Campus, on January 22, 2000, and was devoted to "The Future of Water Policy in Israel as a Result of the Drought." The program saw the participation of lecturers from all of the country’s universities and experts from Israel’s water establishment. The second conference was held at Haifa University on January 27, 2000 on the topic of "The Greenhouse Effect and Regional Climate Changes - Israel and the Mediterranean Countries Towards the Future". Each of these meetings was attended by some 250 scientists and decision-makers.

During the course of the week, about 50 guided tours were conducted along the Jordan River and its main tributaries – the Dan, the Banias and the Hazbani Rivers, in the northern streams – Nahal El Al, Nahal Yehudiyya, Nahal Zavitan and Nahal Daliyyot, in the coastal streams – the Tanninim, Alexander and the Yarqon Rivers, and in various other sites. A special hike was organized in the Southern Dune Park near the infiltration fields that enrich the underground reservoirs with water. All of the tours highlighted the severity of the current water crisis in order to demonstrate to the public that nature too has a legitimate right to water.

This year, the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority spearheaded the activities of the week. A copy of the program is attached.

 Sincerely,  Dr. R. Ortal
Israel Scientific Focal Point to Ramsar Convention
Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority


Press Release

WATER AND STREAMS - CONSERVING NATURE IN ISRAEL AS A RESULT OF THE WATER CRISIS
First list of events to take place during Nature Conservation Week
January 21-29, 2000

The public is invited to participate in an abundance of activities and events marking Nature Conservation Week beginning on Friday, January 21, 2000 and continuing until Saturday, January 29, 2000. This week’s activities have been organized with the cooperation of the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Education, The Jewish National Fund, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority.

Nature Conservation Week and the events surrounding it, has been celebrated since a law was enacted in 1963 , as a result of pressure from green organizations, for the protection of natural assets and heritage and cultural values in nature reserves and national parks. It was decided that the week of Tu Bishvat, the New Year for trees, was the most significant time to address nature awareness and bring important current issues to public attention.

This year, as a result of the drought, the green organizations decided to concentrate on the subject of "water and streams" - showing the public that nature also has a legitimate right to water.

The damage to nature from the current lack of water is severe. Vegetation across the country has withered, and restored streams have dried up. Wildlife, in its natural environment is suffering greatly and, without significant concern, will shortly become extinct. In order to save animals from the drought, some have been returned to zoos. Even the significant rainfall that we experienced in the last week cannot fill sufficiently the dry reservoirs.

In order for nature in Israel to continue blossoming, it is vital that a minimal amount of water be allowed to flow in the streams and reserves: without this we cannot hope to save the green areas of Israel.

The following activities are provided for the public during Nature Conservation Week. They are suitable for families at a minimal cost or free of charge.

Saturday 22/1/2000

1. Tel Dan Nature Reserve - Hiking through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve with stunning views of water. These are opportunities for discussions about the water problem of the flora and fauna of the Reserve.
Tour Starts: 11:00 and 14:00
Length of tour: Two and a half hours
Further details: 06-6951579

2. The Golan - Hike by the large water reservoir in the Golan Nature Reserve and a look at the water problem in the El Al Stream (Nahal El Al).
Meeting Place: Eucalyptus Parking Area at Natur Junction
Tour Starts: 10:00
Length of tour: Three and a half hours
Further details: Yael Selah 06-6937069

3. Ein Afek Nature Reserve - Tour of the Ein Afek Reserve with an emphasis on the water crisis and a tour of the Nahal Na’aman estuary looking at the flow of the stream.
Tour Starts: 10:00 and 13:30
Length of tour: Three hours
Further details: 04-8779992

4. Nahal Tanninim Nature Reserve - Tour of the Reserve focusing on the stream’s flow and man’s influence on it in the past and present.
Tour Starts: 10:00 and 13:00
Length of tour: Two hours
Further details: Carmel Information Center 04-9841752/50

5. Yarkon National Park - View of the water sources of the Yarkon, tour of historical Tel Afek with an emphasis on man’s settlement near the water source.
Tour Starts: 11:00, 13:00. 15:00
Length of tour: One and a half hours
Further details: Noa 03-9348462

6. Yarkon National Park - Conservation, preservation and development around the stream.
Tour Starts: 11:00, 13:00. 15:00
Length of tour: One and a half hours
Further details: Noa 03-9348462

7. The Sand Park March 2000 - The route takes you from the beautiful Nitzanim beach, through the clear water pools, passing by the soft sand dunes, between the wormwood shrubs and the flowering furze (Rotem) and ending with a short walk along the shores of the Mediterranean.
Entry Fee: 20 NIS
Further details: Shif or Yaron 07-6727895
In case of rain, the trip will be postponed for a week.

Friday, January 28, 2000
Free tour of the Upper Qana Stream guided by the Central Tour Group Division of Kfar Batia. (Hugei HaSayarut Merkaz)
Tour Starts: 09:30 -10:30 from the Yakir Settlement (Yishuv Yakir)
Further details: Avi 03-6816829 or 053-689702

Saturday, January 29, 2000

1. Free tour of Jaffa Port - guided by the Central Tour Group division of Holon
Meeting Place: The clock tower in Jaffa
Tour Starts: 10:00
Length of tour: One hour
Subject of tour: Renewal of the port and new development projects.
Further details: Efi 03-6816829 or 053-689706

2. Free tour of the Yarkon and Qana Streams - guided by the Central Tour Group division from Petach Tikva.
Tour Leaves: 10:00/10:30 from Yarkon Junction
Further details: Efi 03-6816829 or 053-689706

3. Tel Dan Nature Reserve - Hiking through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve with stunning views of water. These are opportunities for discussion about the water problem of the flora and fauna of the Reserve.
Tour Starts: 11:00 and 14:00
Length of tour: Two and a half hours
Further details: 06-6951579

4. The Golan - Hike by the large water reservoir in the Golan Nature Reserve and a look at the water problem in the El Al Stream (Nahal El Al).
Meeting Place: Eucalyptus Parking Area at Natur Junction
Tour Starts: 10:00
Length of tour: Three and a half hours
Further details: Yael Selah 06-6937069

5. Ein Afeq Nature Reserve - Tour of the Ein Afeq Reserve with an emphasis on the water crisis and a tour of the Nahal Na’aman estuary looking at the flow of the stream.
Tour Starts: 10:00 and 13:30
Length of tour: Three hours
Further details: 04-8779992

6. Nahal Tanninim Nature Reserve - Tour of the Reserve focusing on the stream’s flow and man’s influence on it in the past and present.
Tour Starts: 10:00 and 13:00
Length of tour: Two hours
Further details: Carmel Information Center 04-9841752/50

7. Yarkon National Park - View of the water sources of the Yarkon, tour of historical Tel Afek with an emphasis on man’s settlement by the water source.
Tour Starts: 11:00, 13:00. 15:00
Length of tour: One and a half hours
Further details: No. 03-9348462

8. Yarkon National Park - Conservation, preservation and development around the stream.
Tour Starts: 11:00, 13:00. 15:00
Length of tour: One and a half hours
Further details: Noa 03-9348462

On Tuesday, January 25, 2000 between 10:45 and 13:00, Israel TV’s Educational Channel will broadcast a program on the subject of water. This program will focus on all aspects of water, including; sources around Israel, plans for these sources, the importance and the necessity of these sources for life. Emphasis will be placed on the state of water in Israel today - the shortage, the need to save and the various treatment processes available.

 Additional details on all the above mentioned activities can be found at the Transport Branch of the Voice of Israel (Kol Yisrael) radio station, 1-800-23456 or with Mazi Magnazi from the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority: 03-7762017.

Regards,

Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, Ministry of the Environment, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Keren Kayement LeIsrael (Jewish National Fund), Ministry of Education.

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