The Negev is characterized by a remarkable landscape feature known as “limans,” which are mainly to be found adjacent to roads and railway tracks. These earthen constructions collect floodwater by damming a gully or streambed. The dam slows the flow of the accumulated runoff water, causing it to permeate the soil and thus allow small groves of trees to flourish in areas with meager rainfall.
The word liman comes from Greek, and means “port.” It appears in the Yoma tractate of the Jerusalem Talmud: “Until he reached the liman of Jaffa.”
Limans are notable for their location and the way trees are planted in them and acclimated to the arid climate with the help of ancient agricultural techniques once widely used in this region. Since the 1960s KKL-JNF has had a mandate for the creation and maintenance of limans, as an extension of the activities of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Land Conservation Division, which until then had been responsible for forestry.
Some 420 limans can be found throughout the Negev, most of them adjacent to Route 40 (from Beersheba to Mitzpe Ramon), Route 25 (Dimona / Beersheba / Netivot) and Route 31 (Arad / Shoket / Lehavim / Eshel HaNasi).
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