Bringing Life Back to the Forest after the November Fires.
About 2,050 acres of planted forests went up in flames during the fires that raged in November of last year. More than 300 KKL-JNF foresters and firefighters fought the fires for over a week at 64 conflagrations throughout Israel. KKL-JNF teams also took part in putting out fires in an additional 3,800 acres of areas not under the organization's management.
“This was a war to save the forests, the houses around them, and the lives of the local residents,” said Gilad Mastai, KKL-JNF Coast and Plain Regional Director.
Unfortunately, KKL-JNF foresters are already used to dealing with fires. They are active in preventing fires by creating firebreaks, which prevent the spreading of the flames, and paving road breaks that allow recue forces to arrive at the scene. They also thin out the trees in order to prevent the spread of the flames, and encourage grazing in forests and open spaces in order to lessen the amount of flammable vegetation.
In spite of all the efforts, many forests are damaged yearly by fires, due to weather conditions, the negligence of visitors, and arson. In these instances, the foresters and the skilled and well-equipped firefighting teams that KKL-JNF sets in action join the fight against the conflagrations alongside the fire department.
Of course, KKL-JNF’s job is not over when the fire is extinguished, and now, its mission is to lead the forests' rehabilitation. Towards this end, professional surveys are being conducted by foresters and ecologists, in order to ascertain damage and determine methods of action.
“Right after a fire, we immediately start thinking about the day after,” Mastai notes. “Wherever possible, we encourage the forest’s natural renewal processes by thinning and intensive care. This is a long and expensive process. Areas that don’t have natural seeding processes are replanted with seedlings from KKL-JNF nurseries. Recreation sites are renovated and mature trees are planted in them, in order to get the situation back to normal as quickly as possible. Additional work that is often necessary is repairing roads that were damaged and creating runoff traps to prevent erosion. All this is done so that the forest can go back to welcoming visitors.”
Read more about forest rehabilitation efforts and watch video