|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem|
Stenzler tells ‘Post’ about ‘green diplomacy’
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
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
“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
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.
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
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
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.