"Our father Abraham was the first person in the Bible to plant a tree, and he planted it right here, in Beersheba, so this site is the perfect choice for KKL-JNF's central Tu Bishvat tree planting ceremony." KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler was speaking on Wednesday, January 16, to an audience of over 1,200 schoolchildren and another 500 adult residents from Beersheba who came to plant trees near Beersheba's Ramot neighborhood. KKL-JNF personnel in attendance included Avi Dickstein, Executive Director of the KKL-JNF Resources, Development and PR Division, Ami Uliel, Director of KKL-JNF's Southern Region and Itzik Danino, a member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors.
The Beersheba tree planting ceremony marked the official opening of KKL-JNF's Tu Bishvat events, which include hundreds of tree planting ceremonies and Tu Bishvat seders that will be taking place throughout Israel during the month of Shvat. On January 20, the Israeli government will hold a special session in honor of Tu Bishvat, which is also the birthday of the Knesset.
"Planting a tree is a symbol of renewal," Stenzler continued, "but there is another important lesson to be learned on Tu Bishvat. Planting trees is also a way of protecting the environment, and we want Beersheba, which has been experiencing intensive growth and urban development, to also be known as a green city.
"This forest, which is next to the new neighborhood of Ramot, will be a part of the green belt that KKL-JNF and the Beersheba municipality are creating. There is a trail from here to Hatzerim, and it will eventually reach Beersheba River Park, which is being developed with the help of friends of KKL-JNF worldwide. I can assure you that KKL-JNF will continue to make certain that our shared vision for a green Beersheba will be promoted in coming years," Stenzler concluded.
The forest near the Ramot neighborhood where the tree planting took place is actually a part of Dudaim Forest, which grows in a semi-arid region, with no more than about 200 mms. annual precipitation. Various experts believed that no forest could ever succeed here, but KKL-JNF foresters proved that by innovative and more efficient methods of harvesting runoff water, such as limans, trees can grow even in the desert. In the future, KKL-JNF will be building a 60 kilometer scenic road that will begin in Dudai'm Forest and continue along Nahal Shikma until the Zikim beach.
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