2017 ANNUAL REPORT 

EDUCATE. LOVE. PROTECT

מסכמים את שנת 2017 

שומרים. מחנכים. אוהבים

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) was founded in 1953 by a small group of nature lovers and scientists who opposed the drainage of the Hula wetlands, foreseeing the future implications of this action on northern Israel’s unique landscape.
 
That campaign was defeated but proved prophetic in the long run. The drainage had devastating consequences; including the reduction of the water level and quality in the Sea of Galilee,  SPNI was partly vindicated in the early 90's when Israel re-flooded a portion of the former wetlands. Born amid that environmental struggle, SPNI continues to work to safeguard Israel’s nature more than 60 years later.
 
SPNI is an independent non-profit public organization, the largest and oldest environmental organization in Israel, one of the oldest in the world and a proud member of international conservation organizations such as IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) and Birdlife International.  SPNI is dedicated to protecting and preserving Israel’s natural resources, environment and unique landscapes through education, activism and creating a deep connection between man and nature.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SPNI
  • Works to protect open areas and biodiversity. 
  • Lobbies decision-makers in the government and Knesset to increase their awareness about environmental issues and urge them to advance legislation that will protect the environment.
  • Promotes eco-tourism and hiking within Israel, stemming from a belief that interacting with nature and the environment will lead to environmental activism.
  • Develops joint initiatives with and promotes cooperation between Israel’s environmental organizations and commercial and private organizations.
  • Maintains ideological independence, professionally and organizationally, which allows us to act towards fulfilling our purpose in an unrestricted and self-sufficient manner.
 
We believe that a true change in societal attitudes towards nature can only be achieved through an ongoing educational process that awakens a sense of wonder in response to it.  As such, we run environmental education programs in schools and kindergartens throughout the country, and in Israel's major cities we run events in all seasons for all ages and communities. 
 
We work tirelessly with policymakers and young people, in big cities and small towns across the country and in all sectors, to create a sustainable future for Israel, protecting and harnessing Israel’s natural resources for current and future generations.
 
Since our creation, it has been clear that our greatest strength emanates from the power our supporters who share our values, join our campaigns and enjoy nature alongside us.
 
In 2017, we were grateful for the support and participation of those who joined us in celebrating and protecting nature including:
 
  • 35,000 Israeli households who pay a monthly membership fee
  • 700,000 hikers who participated in one of our guided activities
  • 25,000 students who learned something new in one of our educational programs
  • 5,000 children who enjoyed our summer camps
  • 120,000 people who follow SPNI on social media
  • 130,000 readers who subscribe to SPNI’s monthly newsletter
 
SPNI has branches spread throughout Israel to ensure a local focus on local issues. Our urban communities in Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Modiin, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Hadera and Haifa focus on improving residents' quality of life. We empower residents to participate in city planning, create coalitions with likeminded and grassroots organizations, and lobby local decision-makers. Through these activities, in partnership with the public, we make Israel's cities better places to live. 
 
Our network of Eco-Community Center located in Israel's social and economic periphery play an integral part in these development towns' pedagogic framework (for example, in Kiryat Shmona, Maalot, Sachnin, Ein Al Asad, Hura, Ramle, Lod and Eilat).
 
In 1964, with its new educational and hostel facility at Ein Gedi, SPNI invented the concept of the Field School, a special place where man and nature can interact. Today, the concept has been copied throughout Israel and the world. Today, our Field Schools are located throughout the country, often in proximity to the Israel National Trail, on Mt.Hermon, in the Golan Heights in the lower Galilee, on the coastal plain, and the Negev, the Arava, and Eilat. These facilities, enable Israelis of all ages and backgrounds to get close to nature and to find their perfect trail.
We partner with numerous organizations to reach Arab-speaking populations, including the Druze and Bedouin,  and other minority communities from the north to the south. Our educational programs are run for children of all ages in formal and informal settings.  We also play an active role in the local community, running an array of unique activities for adults and senior citizens that are geared towards creating awareness and appreciation of nature. 
 
SPNI works 365 days a year to protect and preserve Israel’s nature and environment – but we don’t do it alone. Our supporters, across Israel and around the world, share our love of Israel's nature and desire to know it better.
 
We, together with our supporters and members, understand and appreciate Israel's need to develop, we advocate for a policy of sustainable development - balancing development with the need to protect our unique nature; a valuable resource in its own right. 
 
Thank you for your support. It is our participation in our activities and campaigns that enable us to celebrate the successes we have had over the past year!
 
 

!תודה! شُكْرًا Thank you very much!

 

Education

Learning through your Feet

 

We nurture young people's connection to their home own communities, heritage and their natural surroundings, thus raising a sentinel generation that will appreciate, love and protect Israel's natural treasures. Children's values are formed at an early age. Our programs, conducted with the support of the Ministry of Education, engaged tens of thousands of students nationwide, across all ages, in formal and informal education.

 

SPNI's Youth Movement - Orienteering, SPNI's youth movement, strengthens the connection of Israel's youth to the land, their heritage and to their communities by giving children the opportunity to explore Israel's wilderness In Hebrew, we call this education "derech haraglayim - דרך הרגליים" which translates as "the footpath." Practically, it means that there is no better way to learn than through first-hand experiences. Across Israel, Orienteering groups for children ages 7-18 meet weekly for outdoor activities in their local area and during the school holidays embark on numerous adventures across the country. Orienteering activities are designed to strengthen the child's sense of belonging and empowerment by overcoming physical and emotional challenges. 

 

Opening up Nature for Everyone - Hundreds of children and youth of all backgrounds, religious and secular, new immigrants, native Israelis, and youth from all economic statuses, take part in SPNI's Orienteering programs. While participation is often paid for by parents, SPNI, with the support of generous donors, provides scholarships for those in need. 

Developing a Generation of Leaders - With an eye to developing young leaders, the teen counselors (or 'madrichim-מדריכים') undergo rigorous training including leadership and survival skills, lessons in biology, geology, the environment, Israeli history and more. The madrichim lead activities for younger children, including, adopting archaeological and urban nature sites, guided nature tours, ecological events, recycling activities and other projects. 

 

Environmental Education in Schools - catering to a child's curious nature we have developed a rich variety of experiential programs for Grades 1-9 that encourage children to explore and discover nature's bounty and through them their history and heritage. One of our signature programs is the school-based garden integrating environmental studies into garden-based activities and providing an outdoor setting to explore other academic subjects like science and math.

Children Leading Change - Over 15,000 elementary and middle school children, from 500 classes, participate in our Children Leading Change educational series. This multi-year program promotes fundamental change in their relationship with the environment by raising awareness about environmental issues and encouraging community activism during these formative years. Throughout the year children participate in 15-30 field and classroom lessons covering topics such as recycling, gardening, reducing carbon footprints, sustainability and current environmental issues. SPNI helps schools tailor their curriculum and activities and help give classes too.

Working with the Ultra-Orthodox - Over the course of the year, we organized many programs with this fast-growing population, covering an array of subjects including biodiversity, recycling and balancing development. In order to engage the entire community, the activities took place in schools and community centers: 430 children took place in classes and another 230 through our activities in Community Centers.  We also organized 8 community events for families attended by a record 3,600 participants! In addition to our regular programming, we gave a tour of Jerusalem's Gazelle Valley to over 1,000 students exposing them to the principles of nature preservation.

Through our environmental education programs, we help children from kindergarten to high school fall in love with nature, understand the unique attributes of their local nature and learn how to care for it.

photo: Adi Fleishman, Dov Greenblat

Marine Environment

 

Protecting our Seas

This year, five years of hard work culminated with the passing of new laws concerning fishing ushering in a new, modern era of sustainable management of Israel's fish stocks. We've also launched a number of initiatives enabling the public to become key partners in protecting our seas. 

 

Key Features of the New Fishing Law :

  • A total ban to bottom trawling in Israel's most sensitive marine areas (about 1/3 of the Israeli Mediterranean). 

  • A total fishing ban during the breeding season

  • A total ban on trawling during the three month period where juvenile fish travel to join the main schools

  • An end to scuba fishing

  • A daily catch quota for sports fishermen.

  • An increase in the minimum length permitted for grouper fishing.

  • An upgrade to enforcement – 4 designated teams will be responsible for enforcing the fishing law

  • Protection of endangered species – 5 types of grouper and blue-fin tuna can no longer be caught

 

Sea Watch – SPNI created Sea Watch, a GPS-enabled app that empowers the public to improve the ecological state of Israel’s oceans and rivers by sending real-time reports on a variety of maritime environmental incidents and hazards straight to SPNI. In 2017, 350 these reports helped thwart illegal fishing activities, led to the removal of ghost fishing nets and rescued protected species. 

 

Searching for Urchins – We developed a platform enabling divers, sailors and the public to report sea urchin sightings in the Mediterranean. Sea urchins,  once a common sight on Israel's beaches have almost completely disappeared. Partnering with the Marine and Lake Research Institute we hope this information will help us understand the cause of their disappearance. 

 

Sea Patrol – We created a program to recruit and train volunteer divers to document waste on the seabed. These reports are passed onto authorities for clean up and to raise awareness of one of the greatest obstacles to a healthy marine environment. 
 

Celebrating World Ocean Day - For decades, we've worked with local communities to preserve Israel’s beaches. On World Ocean Day we assisted local initiatives by lending professional support, leading lectures,hikes and even guided snorkeling tours!In this way we connect local people with the sea first hand, learn about its natural bounty and understand how to protect it. 

 

Nature Defense Force - Navy commanders in the Red Sea have started a new project to rehabilitate and protect underwater habitats and Eilat's beaches.  Sailors relocated endangered creatures to safe areas and rescued injured seabirds from restricted areas. Additionally, we've begun working with the Navy to help them reduce their ecological footprint by adapting their infrastructure. 

 

A New Generation of Sea Guardians – Israel’s beaches attract throngs of people year-round especially over the summer. Youth in our orienteering programs campaigned in the heat of summer in support of a new law to keep our beaches open to everyone by preventing unnecessary construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To truly protect the marine environment we must set up Marine Reserves. Only 0.25% of Israel's territorial waters have environmental protection, and even these currently lack effective enforcement. To ensure we leave a healthy marine ecosystem of coral reefs, dolphins, turtles and other endangered species to our children we'll campaign to set up new Marine Reserves, properly protected and managed. 

Photo: Sara Ohayon, Tali Naaman, Iris Arbel, Sea Watch

Trails

 

A Proud History of Hiking

 

SPNI makes hiking safe and accessible by blazing, marking and maintaining hiking trails through inspiring landscapes and stunning nature. SPNI is responsible for over 10,000 km of hiking trails across Israel, including the iconic Israel National Trail. Our trails are the critical infrastructure to exploring Israel's wilderness. 

 

Marking the Trails – three stripes, two white and one colored - are a familiar part of every hiking experience, make it easy to take the right turn. Every trail in Israel is re-marked every three to four years. During this re-marking,the trail is checked to ensure it is still safe and any changes to the route are plotted. Due to popular demand, special attention has recently been given to creating longer trails and bike trails. 

The Israel National Trail - the Israel National Trail (INT), the country’s most impressive hiking trail. Beginning at Beit Ussishkin in Kibbutz Dan, stretching through mountains, forests, cities, villages, towns, rivers and springs, and running alongside roads and through nature reserves, historical and holy sites and unique natural phenomenon, before ending 1,100 km later at SPNI’s Eilat Field School. Over the years, the trail has become a symbol of natural values, heritage, tradition, multi-culturalism and a wondrous encounter with nature and Israeli society.  The INT is enjoyed and cherished by residents from varied backgrounds, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and many others, and hikers of all kinds: nature lovers, schoolchildren, youth movements, soldiers, families and tourists from around the world.

 

Marking the Israel National Trail Online - in 2015, to celebrate the INT’s 20th birthday and Google Israel’s 10th birthday, SPNI and Google embarked on a joint project to photograph the entire INT upload it to Google Street View. The process of filming the trail was the most extensive ever undertaken by Google and a herculean effort. Click here to view the Google Street View.

 

Trail Angels - The INT has also become a pivotal meeting point for initiatives that characterize Israeli culture and spirit. One such initiative is the “Trail Angels” project, in which residents who live along the route volunteer their time to assist in rescue missions, hand out water in problematic areas, host trekkers for a cup of coffee, help transport equipment and offer a strip of lawn for pitching a tent, or even hot showers and beds.

 

National Trail Day - In April 2017 to promote hiking and nature appreciation to new audiences we organized the first-ever Israel National Trail Day during which residents and tourists enjoyed free guided nature hikes, workshops and activities on popular routes across the country. It was a true celebration of nature that was attended by thousands of people throughout the country.

 

 

 

 

In 2018, we will continue to ensure that Israel's extensive trail network remains open, accessible and safe for all. SPNI plans to be there every step of the way working to protect and preserve it all. 

 

Photo: David Malka, lior Ronen, Meni Zuberi, Dov Greenblat, Michal Lavratovsky, Avner Avraham, liali Baron

Birds

 

Keeping the Flyway Clear

As a narrow land bridge between 3 continents, Israel lies at the heart of the African-Eurasian flyway. Twice a year over 500 million birds fly over our skies on their migration to and from their breeding grounds. SPNI's Israel Ornithological Center protects these birds by close observation and research, and by carrying out an array of cutting-edge projects.

 

Banning Quail Hunting – in August we successfully petitioned the High Court of justice to force the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to ban quail hunting and the use of “audio traps” (devices that mimic bird calls) until 2019, after which the impact of the ban will be assessed.

 

Fighting for Pelican Feeding Stations - After a brief but successful campaign, the Ministry of Agriculture quickly reversed their rash decision to stop feeding the 50,000 pelicans that migrate through Israel. These feeding sites in the Hula Valley and Emek Hefer, along with other non-harmful methods, keep the pelicans away from commercial fish farms mitigating conflict between the birds and farmers.

Champions of the Flyway – this year was the 4th Champions of the Flyway an international bird watching competition where 34 teams from Israel and around the world arrive in the Negev to compete to spot the most species of bird in 24 hours. Each year teams raise money for conversation projects along the African-Eurasian flyway. In 2017 a record $60,000 was raised to combat illegal hunting in Turkey. The joint winners were the from Finland and from Israel who each spotted an incredible 181 species in just 24 hours.

 

Updating the IUCN Red List – the newest update on the state of Israel’s birds was published in December. 65 of Israel’s 535 bird species are listed as endangered or worse compared to 38 species in 2002 when the list was first published. The main dangers facing these species include loss of habitat, collisions with overhead power-lines, poisoning and illegal hunting. However, 44 species, including birds of prey and waterfowl, are doing much better due to the impact of SPNI conservation projects. 

 

Nature Defense Force – a partnership between SPNI, the Israel Defense Forces and Nature and Parks Authority implemented many impactful projects to project birds. This year new projects included creating specially shaped nesting boxes from ammunition boxes for swifts at the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv and Lesser Kestrels in Nachshonim, and to provide clean water for black kites in the Negev after witnessing a 90% decrease in their population over the last two decades.

 

The Big Bird Count – our 12th annual big bird count took place between 20th January and 10th February. This citizen science project engaged schools, kindergartens, bird watching clubs and members of the general public. We received over 1,700 reports nearly double the number we received last year. The Hooded Crow was again the most commonly spotted bird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2018 we'll continue to protect Israel's endemic and visiting bird species through an array of innovative projects, across the country, involving the public, amateur and professional birdwatchers.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaner Energy

Photo: Eitan Kufman, Jonathan Meirav, Tomas Kromanker, Moshe Cohen

Shifting to a Carbon Neutral Economy

SPNI continues to develop sustainable energy policies that take into account climate change and Israel's rich biodiversity. Israel is aiming to produce 17% of energy from renewables by 2030. To achieve this we are advocating for a policy focusing on roof-based solar panels and using the recently discovered reservoirs of natural gas to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. 

 

Promoting Sustainable Solar Power

in October 2017, SPNI presented a report on Renewable Energy to the Knesset’s subcommittee for renewable energy. The report concludes that the best renewable energy solution for Israel lies in solar roof panels. According to the report's findings, nearly a third of Israel's electricity could be produced using this method by 2030 without sacrificing over 100,000 dunams of open spaces or posing a threat to avifauna. We believe that the quota for existing wind turbines should not increase nor additional space allocated to solar power plants. 

 

The Report becomes Reality 

several weeks after the report's publication, Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Minister for Energy,announced the government’s plans to promote solar rooftop energy.  The Electric Company will offer roof owners the opportunity to reduce their electricity costs and sell electricity back to the grid. 

 

Campaigning against Unwisely-placed Wind Turbines- After a brief campaign, the Northern Regional Council postponed the development of a wind farm at Ramat Menashe due to the dangers the turbines would pose to the population of endangered Lesser Kestrels that nest in the area and other avifauna. At the end of December, we also presented a petition of 5,000 signatures protesting wind turbines planned for Tel Peres which would have devastating consequences for the area's eagles. We believe that these areas are inappropriate for establishing wind farms due to the lack of wind and the damage they will pose to the region’s nature and landscapes. Instead, we are presenting alternatives that would be good for the environment and nature.

 

Campaigning for Environmental Protections for Off-Shore Drilling - Since the discovery of large gas deposits, no government action has been made to regulate them. The public discourse has focused primarily on the economic windfall. SPNI has been working tirelessly to include environmental factors in the debate. Most countries only consider the environmental impacts after a major disaster, such as the United States following the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In September 2017 we petitioned the High Court to force the government to conduct an environmental impact study on extracting gas from the “Karish” and “Tanin” undersea gas reserves, consider alternative locations and routes for pipelines and refinery and make the report transparent.  Our appeal also demands a separation of powers for the authorizing body for drilling and its operational supervisors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a signatory to the Paris Climate Accords Israel needs to begin transitioning its energy economy. SPNI will continue to campaign to ensure this transition is transparent and is good for both society, nature and the environment.  ​​​

Urban Nature

 

Building Sustainable Cities

2017 was a historic year for urban nature in Israel due to the launch of the National Policy on Urban Nature created in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection. This document will serve as a guide to

effectively manage and develop natural areas in the urban environment.

 

Citizen Science - Nature enthusiasts are intimately familiar with the bountiful nature found in our cities, however, most members of the public are incredulous when we talk about the subject. In response, we have been bridging the gap between the public and researchers by promoting several citizen science activities so the public can become active participants in conservation. 

 

  • We launched the “I Saw a Gazelle” reporting app passing reports of gazelle sightings directly to researchers

  • In partnership with the Association of Butterfly Lovers, we set up new butterfly counting groups in Hadera and Modiin

  • In Haifa, on rainy nights, groups, including the Greenheart Club and their volunteers, go out to count numbers of endangered salamanders. The data collected has shown that the salamander population is much larger than previously estimated allowing us to act more effectively going forward. 

 

Nature in the City - At the height of Spring over 18,000 people took part in one of 50 events held during our "Urban Nature Week" across the country. Ths year was also the official launch of the new “There’s Nature in the City” app allowing members of the public to support our work by reporting on any urban nature they encounter.

Managing Urban Nature Sites - this year we saw the opening of a new urban nature site in Rosh Tzippor in Tel Aviv. This artificial lake surrounding by unobtrusive hides gives Tel Aviv's 1.25 million residents the opportunity to see migrating birds from across Europe and Asia up close while giving the birds a safe respite in Israel's densest urban city. Rosh HaTzipur joins the Jerusalem Bird Observatory and Gazelle Valley as one of Israel's iconic urban nature sites.  

 

Forum for Responsible Planning - After the recent changes in Israel's planning policies, it's clear that nothing currently exists within the government to address the public's interests in the planning process. Within this vacuum, we created the “Forum for Responsible Planning” a wide-ranging coalition of civic, social and professional organizations in environmental and housing planning that works to create an independent and professional planning system focused on the public good together with effective checks and balances.

 

Tackling the Housing Crisis - In December 2017 we published a startling expose on the progress of the Planning and Construction Law. We revealed that not one of 95,000 approved residential units has been built! Additionally, while the National Planning and Construction Committee accepts 32% of government ministry complaints only 4% of public complaints are accepted with 84% rejected outright. The report also reveals that the Committee is ignoring planning regulations and democratic processes by authorizing tens of thousands of housing units on green belt and land zoned for agriculture purposes. Another key is the Committee’s focus on building residential units while neglecting key infrastructure including public transport and public buildings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To ensure our cities are truly sustainable we call on Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, responsible for Israel’s planning systems, to urgently review the Committee's work. We will also continue to carry out urban nature surveys and create an accurate knowledge base to protect the nature that lives in the city.

 

 

Photo: Yael Hartman, SPNI, Hila Nakash, Dov Greenblat, Hadas Yelnik

Rivers

 

Restoring Israel's Rivers

Desalination technology has effectively ended Israel's water shortages. These shortages devastated Israel's river systems. Desalination has created an opportunity to restore Israel's river basins and SPNI is fighting to ensure Israel does not miss this opportunity to ensure Israel's major rivers flow again. 

 

Creating a New Green Lung - the Kishon River Park was established at the mouth of the river where it meets the Mediterranean. This new natural area will serve as a Green Lung in the heart of Haifa's Bay and as a beacon of hope for the restoration of Israel's other major rivers. 

 

Legal compensation in the aftermath of the Ashalim River Disaster - The Ashalim River disaster shook us to the core.  After watching so many animals die following the acid leak from the Rotem Fertilizer's storage pool we were devastated to discover that no legal action could be taken to prevent future tragedies of this kind. Currently, it is impossible for the public to file lawsuits against the perpetrators. In response, we drafted a bill that would allow the public to file a civil suit for actions that “harm protected natural resources”, essentially taking them to task for the defilement of public property. Additionally, the bill would empower the court to insist upon compensation for environmental damage and direct these funds towards conservation projects. Dalia Dror, the Ministry of Environmental Protection's legal advisor supports this initiative which should prove decisive in seeing this bill become law. 

 

River Protectors - In partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Drainage Authorities our River Protectors educational program recruits dozens of student groups to look after different streches of rivers. We also support adult River Protectors working to restore Nahal Taninim and the Sharona Spring.

 

Advancing policies for restoring rivers and wet habitats in Israel - Current plans for restoring Israel’s rivers are centered upon restoring the flow of natural water sources into rivers, including spring water that was captured for agriculture. SPNI is calling on the government to implement a Master Plan to manage our freshwater sources and review and update the Water Law. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year ahead is rife with challenges. We will continue to raise awareness of river and spring restoration on the national and local levels, work towards formulating agreements for basin management of the rivers (eco-hydrological) and for turning drainage authorities into basin authorities, and reinstating the Ministry of Environmental Protection in its role as the overseer of river restoration as per the River Law, while retaining the drainage authorities as the dominant players in all related projects as per the Drainage Law.

 

Photo: Sivan Arbel, Yael Bar, Tali Naanman, Iris Arbel, Pazi Shaham

Ecosystems and Biodiversity

 

Planning for Nature

This year we focused on major campaigns surrounding the Sasgon Valley in the Arava desert, near Eilat, and the Great Dune in Ashdod, where constant threats of development forced us to remain vigilant and on our guard.

 

Emek Sasgon - The bitter struggle against construction in Emek Sasgon has been raging for more than a decade. In the summer of 2017, SPNI, in conjunction with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Municipality of Sderot, submitted an official appeal against the construction of the hotel in Emek Sasgon.  In early December, the Appeals Committee of the National Council rejected the appeal but agreed that the planned construction must proceed within certain specified guidelines, effectively canceling the current plans to build the hotel in Emek Sasgon.  For the time being, we are pleased with this decision, though we understand that this saga is far from over and plan to redouble our efforts.

 

The Great Dune  - The Great Dune in Ashdod is part of the disappearing chain of coastal dunes. The Great Dune is part of the last active ecosystem of dunes, as such these dunes are endangered habitats. As partners in the city’s new planning outline, we have been calling for a redirection of the city’s development towards the north and the east, within the “agricultural triangle”.  Meanwhile, we have been lobbying for the Great Dune to be declared a nature reserve, thereby taking plans for construction off the table for good.

 

Replacing Herzliya Airport - We are campaigning to have other locations considered, including using existing airports, for replacing Herzliya airport. The 3 current alternatives are homes to valuable nature, unique landscapes and picturesque hiking trails. If our alternatives are chosen they would have a considerably lessened impact on the environment while fulfilling the airport's commercial objectives.

 

Creating animal-friendly roads - among our most exciting initiatives was the launch of our roadkill reporting feature in partnership with Waze. In the first six months, we compiled data from more than 12,000 user-generated reports utilizing them to develop a detailed map of which of Israel's roads are most hazardous to animals. This data has led planners to build special passages for animals when constructing new roads or expanding and upgrading old roads. 

 

Business and Biodiversity - in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority we successfully completed projects integrating biodiversity considerations into the planning processes and daily operations of eight government ministries and leading Israeli companies, including:

 

  • Melach Ha’Aretz Ltd protecting birds in their salt pools

  • The Regional Planning and Construction Committee Southern Region are integrating biodiversity considerations and ecosystem services in planning

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is working to reduce conflict between sharks and fish farms

  • The Israel Electric Company is reducing clashes between birds and high-tension wires by installing signals

  • Oil and Energy Infrastructure Ltd. and Fuel Products Ltd are reducing air pollution and removing invasive species from the company’s facilities. They are also safeguarding biodiversity during oil and energy company installments, including preserving the rare plant “Allium Kolmanium,” which grows in one of the company’s facilities

  • Hansen Israel Ltd of the Heidelberg Cement Group is reducing damage by invasive plants and encouraging community involvement

  • Tavor Wineries Company has integrated biodiversity-friendly protocols in 85% of their vineyards and has produced Israels first “ecological wine” in Israel

  • The Mediterranean Coastal Cliffs Preservation Government Company Ltd is integrating biodiversity considerations in the coastal cliff preservation project.

 

Another six companies will receive funding of NIS 1.1 million in 2018 to implement similar projects to protect biodiversity. 

 

Nature Defense Force - the "Nature Defense Force" project, an ongoing partnership between the IDF, SPNI and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, produced a number of impressive initiatives this year to protect endangered species. They included projects to save the Golan Iris, the Atlantic Terebinth in the Shomron and the mapping and identification of unique nature and heritage sites in training areas. 

 

Saving Nahal Yitzar Nature Reserve - We opened 2017 with the National Planning and Building Council’s canceling plans to build a road through the Nahal Yitzhar Nature Reserve. The media summed it up by saying: “The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel won a victory in the Galilee”.

 

Resurrecting the Dead Sea - In August, we publicized a position paper concerning the future of the Dead Sea. The document encouraged debate regarding potential activities that could improve the Dead Sea’s current situation. The paper highlighted initiatives that have been successful and makes recommendations to slow the vanishing waters levels and to manage tourism.

 

Combatting Invasive Species - In early 2017, SPNI and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority proposed a bill for preventing and treating harmful invasive species. The bill focused on preventing invasive species from entering Israel becoming established and minimizing their spread. Drafted with particular attention to Israel’s responsibility vis-à-vis international treaties on biodiversity protection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the coming year, we will continue to work to preserve open areas by aiming to create statutory protection where possible and effectively managing spaces where not. We will do this in the spirit of transparency while raising awareness and working in partnership with the public.

Photo: Dov Greenblat, Yaara Regev, SPNI

  • White Facebook Icon