Thursday, November 13, the fifth day of Hanukkah, was overcast with an occasional drizzle, but that didn't deter about twenty eager "Forester for a Day" volunteers from arriving at KKL-JNF's Foresters House in Ofer Forest, ready to get to work. The volunteers viewed a short movie clip that described the forest and the work they would be doing during the day. KKL-JNF's "Forester for a Day" program allows volunteer foresters to work alongside KKL-JNF foresters and carry out hands-on woodland-maintenance tasks.
The group included parents and children from all over Israel who chose this activity as a way of making their personal contribution to the upkeep and development of the forest. Volunteer foresters take part in a variety of tasks that are vital for forest care. These include pruning and cutting low branches, which prevent the acceleration of flames spreading in the event of a fire, blazing trails, which prevent the spread of a wildfire and also make the forest accessible to visitors, clearing cuttings and removing any flammable materials that may cause a fire, and assisting in the development of recreation areas for the benefit of the public.
After watching the movie, the group proceeded to the Hof HaCarmel (Carmel Beach) Forest, located on the southwestern slopes of the Carmel Mountain range, where they were greeted by luscious new winter vegetation, fresh woodland smells and the year's first narcissus flowers. Haim Katz, an experienced KKL-JNF guide, told the group that they would be clearing woodlands for a new recreation area. "The recreation area here, which was donated by friends of JNF Australia, is very popular," Haim said, "and not big enough for all the people who come here on holidays and weekends. So we need to prune the trees, get rid of the underbrush, and open this area up. This will also help in preventing future forest fires."
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