Israel’s first urban nature reserve to open in capital

Gazelle Valley Urban Wildlife Park to feature streams, ponds, man-made island, walking and bike paths, exotic birds and roaming gazelles.

March 24, 2015 17:29
1 minute read.

Gazelles.. (photo credit: CHARLES J. SHARP/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Following an acrimonious 20-year legal battle against private developers over a sought after piece of land in the capital’s southwest, the Jerusalem Municipality announced on Tuesday that it will inaugurate the country’s first urban nature park next week.

Gazelle Valley Urban Wildlife Park, located at the foot of Route 50 and Pat junction, will feature five ponds, two streams, bird-watching areas, a man-made island accessible by wooden bridges, and dozens of wild gazelles roaming free, the municipality said.

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According to city hall, the park, spread out over 25 hectares, was built at a cost of NIS 90 million, including NIS 22m.

from the municipality’s coffers, with the remainder coming from donations raised by the Jerusalem Foundation.

“The new city park represents an innovative urban approach of open spaces located in the heart of the city, such as Central Park in New York, Hampstead Heath in London, and Parc St. Jacques in France,” a municipal spokeswoman said.

“This approach, applied nowhere else in Israel, stresses the importance of creating a green lung composed of natural greenery and hosting a variety of animals and birds capable of living in the heart of an urban environment, to be enjoyed by city residents, as well as visitors from Israel and abroad.”

Slated to open on Monday at 4 p.m., the municipality described Gazelle Valley Urban Wildlife Park as an unprecedented “nature reserve in the middle of the city.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat lauded the park as “revolutionary” for an urban space.

“Gazelle Valley is one of the biggest and most important Jerusalem projects in recent years, representing, above all, community involvement in the city and the power of joint brainstorming and planning by city hall and residents,” he said.

Barkat described the completion of the park as an unparalleled victory for the municipality and the public over “the real estate tycoons” who sought to build high-rises on the land.

Built in coordination with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem Foundation, Gazelle Park will be open to the public seven days a week at no cost.

The park also will offer guided group tours to nature lovers, who also will be able to borrow binoculars, mats and deck chairs, the municipality said.

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