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Stenzler tells ‘Post’ about ‘green diplomacy’
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
13/12/2012
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler offers proof of his right to describe himself as a diplomat.
 
Florists around the world suggest that the best way to express affection or appreciation is with flowers. Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel- Jewish National Fund would rather say it with trees or shrubs, which would explain why so many of the participants in The Jerusalem Post’s inaugural Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday went home carrying souvenir potted plants and shrubs that will flourish into trees and large bushes.

KKL-JNF was a sponsor of the conference – which took place at the Daniel Hotel in Herzliya Pituah – as were Israel Discount Bank, Bank Leumi USA, Assuta, and The Ambassadors’ Club of Israel. KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler offered proof of his right to describe himself as a diplomat, since his organization – aside from its transformation of arid areas of the country into lush forests – practices green diplomacy.

“We have forged partnerships with top environmental agencies from around the world such as the US Forest Service, as well as professional agencies in developing nations,” he said.

“We take every opportunity to share our knowledge with others and to learn from our international partnerships.”

An example of the knowledge the organization has been sharing is its expertise in planting forests in semi-arid areas. This knowledge is particularly important because the new forests will absorb greenhouse gases and curb the rate of global warming, said Stenzler.

KKL-JNF is responsible for implementing the most advanced methods of desert agriculture as well as rehabilitating desertified areas, he continued, explaining that desertification harms agronomic and economic production abilities of agricultural fields, grasslands and forests.

The organization has also developed expertise in the country’s water infrastructure and has built 241 reservoirs, which supply two-thirds of the water used in Israeli agriculture.

Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt was gratified to hear that KKL-JNF had established a partnership with the Canadian province of Manitoba, which has more than 100,000 lakes and is interested in maintaining them in the most effective way possible.

When water management experts from Manitoba came to Israel and saw the way Israel managed Lake Kinneret, which provides a quarter of the nation’s water, Manitoba Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick initiated a partnership that embraces the sharing of knowledge and research.

Israel also has valuable experience in developing irrigation solutions, new species of plants and produce and new production methods. Stenzler cited the Arava as a prime example.

KKL-JNF also constructs reservoirs, infrastructure for agriculture, tourism sites and municipal parks, and plans to attract 100,000 new residents to the Negev. In addition, it works in Beduin towns and villages, including the Wadi Atir project, which JNF USA helped found in the village of Hura.

Stenzler was particularly proud that his organization had joined forces with a UNESCO initiative promoting the cultivation of olive trees in Mediterranean countries. The idea behind the project is to preserve the cultural landscapes of olive groves and thereby promote ecological tourism. In the context of this project, KKL-JNF has created an olive path throughout the country, at the initiative of Ambassadors’ Club of Israel founder and president Yitzhak Eldan.

Now that cycling has become so trendy in the country, KKL-JNF is in the process of establishing the infrastructure for thousands of kilometers of bicycle tracks and scenic road in forests, Stenzler added, indicating that his 111-year-old organization was ready to meet any new challenge.
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